WARNER ROBINS -- Joy King knows what it’s like.
King leads the Parents of Prodigal Children ministry at Shirley Hills Baptist Church.
She said she and her husband, Danny, have lived with their daughter’s drug addiction and the havoc it caused in her life and their family since her early teens.
King said their daughter, in her 30s now, is “doing better.”
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Three years ago, King visited a ministry in Marietta for parents working through the heartache and turmoil of having at-home, grown children facing addictions and other destructive life issues. She decided a local group was needed and approached Shirley Hills pastor the Rev. Andy Cook.
“I went to Brother Andy, and he said, ‘Of course, we’d love to have a group like that. Go for it!’’’ King said.
Now she and friends in the Parents of Prodigal Children group reach out to help others. She said they don’t promise automatic, easy answers but do promise to walk through storms with other parents and help them cope and look for answers to their situation.
“Obviously, we’re here for support,” King said. “That’s number one. Emotional support is crucial for parents going through this no matter what the exact problem. They need to know they’re not the only ones going through the agony and questions and bewilderment. They need to know even though no one is perfect and there aren’t any perfect parents, it’s not all their fault.”
King said all are welcome, from those making no claim to Christianity to those who have raised their children in church and have seen them go astray.
“It can be any situation that children have sort of left the teachings their parents tried to instill, the sense of right and wrong,” King said. “Their children may be young or grown or physically in the home or not. Probably 99 percent involve drugs, but drugs lead to crime and an assortment of problems that lead grown children to return home. You don’t want them on the streets, but then where do you draw the line? You don’t want to enable their addiction either.”
King said a primary dilemma among parents of prodigals is where to draw the line between helping and enabling.
“It’s different in every case and it’s not easy to decide,” she said. “It’s hard to kick your child out of the house, but sometimes you just have to. It’s necessary for them and others in the home.”
That’s why King said the group’s second priority is providing information, hard facts and access to resources -- to finding what she called “the right help.”
“We’re a place for resources,” she said. “We have information from our own experience and we bring in resources and speakers who can address problems professionally. Our meetings vary between simply talking together and having speakers.”
King said the group is informal and participants may “sit in the back and say nothing at all” or take opportunities to share. It’s their choice.
She said parents are welcome to come unannounced or contact her ahead of time. They meet each month except June, July, November and December. The next meeting is Aug. 18. She said those coming should park in the church’s right parking at the rear building. She puts a sign outside and the meeting is in room 107.
“I know there are more parents out there who are suffering though this,” King said. “They really don’t need to do it alone. They need another perspective and others to lean on, to pray with. It’s a sensitive situation and we know that. We just want to help.”
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.