How Do I Relate to My Daughter Who Moved in with Her Boyfriend?

Question from a reader:

How do I relate to my daughter when I see her now that she has chosen to move in with her boyfriend instead of abiding by our house rules?

Answer from Kathy Norquist, EPM Board member:

My heart goes out to you and the pain you are experiencing. You're grieving a loss right now and Im sure you have many mixed emotions. There's no better answer than to wait on the Lord and be immersed in His word and His promises to you.

It would be good if you could sit down with your daughter and her boyfriend and lay everything out on the table. Let them know of the difficulty you are faced with: how do you communicate love and keep the communication lines open without condoning their sinful lifestyle? I think it would be good for them to see the effect their decision has on others and the awkwardness it brings to many situations. But at least youve spoken about it, and they will know you are going to do your best to honor God in this. Of course, let them know of your love and care for them.

Im reminded of Jesus and the woman at the well. He loved her even though He knew all about her sin. What your daughter needs to experience from you is the Lords love in 1 Cor. 13.

Putting into perspective our own sin is helpful, too.

Do everything you can to encourage your relationship with her and keep the doors of communication open. Your home is always open to her. You didnt kick her out. She chose to leave, and she is always welcome to return if she chooses to give up her sinful lifestyle, which is hurting her significantly, although she may not realize it now. You would not be a loving parent if you didnt set this kind of boundary with her.

Give energy to cultivating and maximizing your relationship with both of them while not doing anything that would encourage their cohabitation. Of course, you would never invite them to spend the night at your home or go on vacation together, etc. In fact, she may sense a loss at certain times when you dont invite her boyfriend along on an overnight trip that she would normally be going on with her family. She will miss out on some special times and thats part of the consequences of her decision. Let natural consequences take place that will speak to her heart without needing to use words. If she asks you the why of something, then you can speak. But I would let your words be few and your love be big and your actions speak for themselves.

The very best thing you can do is to pray for her and trust in Gods sovereignty. He is still in control and He works the nightshift.

Following are several articles that might be of help. See also Randy's book The Grace and Truth Paradox.

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment [1]

By Jon Bloom, Desiring God Ministries 

The insults fell on her like blows. Shame on you, Whore!

Imagine it. She was married, but not to the man whose arms shed been in. Suddenly the door burst open. Angry men dragged her—and her secret sin—out into the street.

Adulteress! Adulteress! The words pierced her like arrows. A gathering crowd gawked at her with scorn. Her life was undone in a moment by her own doing.

And it was about to be crushed. They were talking about stoning! O my God, theyre going to stone me! God have mercy! But Gods verdict on her case seemed clear:

If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. (Deuteronomy 22:22)

Both shall die! She was going to die! But where was he? No time to think. She was half pushed and half dragged through Jerusalem. She was despised and rejected; as one from whom men hide their faces.

Why are we entering the temple? Suddenly she was thrust in the face of a young man.

Someone behind her said, Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?

The teacher looked at her, then at her accusers, and bent down. Why was he writing in the dirt? Impatient prosecutors demanded a ruling. He stood back up. She held her breath, eyes on her feet.

Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.

The crowd hushed. Confused, she glanced at him. He was writing in the dirt again. She heard mumbling and disgusted grunts from behind. Then shuffling. People were leaving! No one grabbed her. It took some courage to look around. Her accusers were gone! She turned to the teacher. He was standing, staring at her.

Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?

She said, No one, Lord.

And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more.

Forget for the moment the self-righteousness of the accusers and the apparent injustice of the adulterous mans absence. Did you hear what Jesus said? This womans guilt was real. She committed the crime of adultery. God, through Moses, commanded her death.

But God the Son simply said, Neither do I condemn you.

How could he possibly say that? If God violates his own commandment, we have a huge problem. Is God unjust?

Absolutely not. God fully intended for this sin of adultery to be punished to the full extent of his law. But she would not bear her punishment. She would go free. This young teacher would be punished for her.

Might he have written these words from Isaiah in the dirt?

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6-5).

Here, in this story (John 8:1-11), God clearly speaks to us the good news that he wants us to hear. Every single one of us is that woman.

Our sins—the dark lusts, destructive tongues, murderous hatred, corrupting greed, treachery—stand exposed before God as clearly as the womans sins in that temple courtyard. Our shameful guilt is obvious and our condemnation is justified.

And yet from the Son of God come these stunning words: Neither do I condemn you. Why? Because he has been condemned in our place!

Jesus was the only one in the crowd that day who could, in perfect righteousness, require the womans death. And he was the only one who could, in perfect righteousness, pardon her. Mercy triumphed over judgment. And the same is true for us.

A 20-year-old friend of mine has been cohabiting with her boyfriend for many months. This friend was raised in a Godly home and still attends our church. She wants to maintain our close friendship, though she knows that her family, our church, my husband, and I all disapprove of her ungodly lifestyle. I love her very, very much, and I very much like her boyfriend as well. What should be my demeanor, level of contact, and level of friendship with her while she is living a blatantly disobedient Christian life? [2]

Answered by

You ask a tough, but fairly common question. The circumstances tend to change, but many Christians ask about how to handle relationships with other Christians who understand Biblical principles, but decide to blatantly ignore them anyway. In the case of your friend, the first thing to do is to consider whether or not you really believe she is a Christ-follower. Remember, just because she has grown up in a Christian environment and attends church doesnt necessarily mean she is one. If there is no broad evidence in her life of being a Christian, than she might not be one —and this would be a reason why she struggles with moral issues. In other words, you might be expecting her to live up to a standard that she has no inner motivation—or changed heart to enable her—to live up to.

The Scriptures address issues of church discipline which specifically apply to fellow-Christians—who flagrantly sin. There are some other Scripture passages that refer to handling relationships that would also apply in these types of situations. I dont think there are any formulaic answers because every situation is unique. We talk a lot today about hating the sin, but loving the sinner—and there is truth to that, but so much of this depends on the spiritual maturity and attitudes of the individuals involved and whether or not they are professing believers. For instance, you might very well treat situations differently if the one you describe involving your 20-year-old friend, instead involved a 55 year-old, long-time elder in your church.

So, regarding this situation, consider some of the Biblical pieces below, pray about it—and make the best decision you know how to make—in regard to how you believe God wants you to respond.

Matthew 18:15-17 (how to handle sins against one another within the church; but regarding v. 17, ask yourself, How are Christians supposed to treat pagans or tax collectors? How did Jesus treat them?

1 Corinthians 5 (specifically refers to church discipline , but has some application for personal relationships).

1 Corinthians 15:33 (Bad company corrupts good character.)

1 Peter 4:8 (Love covers a multitude of sins.)

Jude 22,23 (Be merciful, snatch some from the fire.)

Galatians 6:1 (Gently restore one who sins.)

1 Timothy 5:20 (Elders who sin to be rebuked publicly as warning; note a higher standard for elders.)

Our 20-year-old daughter has lied to us about living with her boyfriend, she moved back in with us in. They both started going to church and were engaged, but we see more lies and do not believe they should be married. What can we do as parents? [3]

Answered by

Our 20-year-old daughter, has lied to us about living with her boyfriend, she moved back in with us and both started going to church and were engaged and we see more lies, we do not believe they should be married. Boyfriend cussed my husband out. How involved should we be? Allow them over? They are lying about living together now. Our daughter has been a Christian since childhood. Boyfriend has anger issues, hitting himself, pornography, what do we do?

Thank you for contacting us. Parenting adult children who are making decisions that you can see have potentially negative outcomes can be one of the hardest stages of parenting. It requires honest communication, a tremendous amount of unconditional love and acceptance, and the willingness to accept her regardless of the final decision that she makes.

There are some positives in your situation that I see:

1. She is somewhat open with you about her relationship. Use that openness to talk honestly about marriage and the commitment she will be making and that that commitment is for life.

2. She is going to church or has gone in the past. She has a foundation of faith and God has not forgotten her. Pray diligently for her and let her know that you pray for her daily…not in a way that makes her feel bad or guilty, just in a way that lets her know you love her enough to pray for her AND him.

Here are some ways you can carefully intervene. Keep in mind that unless your advice is requested it can be very difficult if not impossible to be heard. Tread carefully and prayerfully.

1. Find some resources to give your daughter about marriage and preparation for marriage. Not just wedding prep but resources that share the real life of real marriages. Introduce her to someone who has been married for 40 or 50 years. Find out their secret and what they consider the red flags of a relationship.

2. Find a way to tactfully share with her the stats about couples who live together prior to marriage. Focus on the Family has a great resource called Why the piece of paper is important and it shares stats about cohabitation and the rate of divorce, less satisfying intimacy, etc. Its very interesting!

I do have concern about the boyfriends use of pornography, especially mixed with anger issues. Your daughter may ignore it now, but remind her that if this is how he behaves while hes courting her, it will only get worse after he marries her. Again, you must tread carefully in these conversations or she will turn a deaf ear.

I hope this gives you somewhere to begin. God bless you as you parent.

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Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Kathy Norquist was Randy Alcorn’s Executive Assistant from 1997-2015, then worked in Ministry Development up until September 2018 when she retired.  Kathy remains on the EPM Board of Directors.