Perhaps the Parable of the Prodigal Son gives us some insight into this question.
The younger son asked his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ And he divided his wealth between them. “The younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country.” Luke 15:12
Here we have an estranged son.
The first point of notice is that the Father let his son go.
This is difficult. As parents it is hard to let go. But the Father let his son make his choices.
“And there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be in need.” This young Jewish man was desperate, and he found work feeding swine. He wanted to eat the pods that he fed to these animals. Luke 15:14-16
‘No one gave him anything. And then he came to his senses.’ Luke 15:16-17
It was when the son felt the full consequences of his decisions that made him ready to turn his life around. Again, the Father let his son experience natural consequences.
Then the son then made a different decision, a decision to go back to his father and to admit his mistakes. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
Here is a beautiful lesson. Though the Father let his son go, he did not let go of his love for his son. These words suggest that the Father watched for his son’s return, he longed to be reunited with him once again. His love for his son weathered the times of rebellion and rejection. His love for his child weathered the distance and the differences between them. He was ready to forgive and receive him back. In fact, the father immediately arranged for a celebration, “for this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” Luke 15:22-24
This Parable illustrates the heart of God as the Father of Israel and all mankind. He longs for the healing of his relationship with the nation of Israel. He longs for the healing of his relationship with the whole human family. He makes provision for this healing, he waits patiently while the difficult lessons of rebellion are learned, and He is ready to accept the change of heart when it happens. This change of heart means so much to Him; He celebrates. John 3:16; Romans 8:19-21; Zechariah 3:17
This parable shows us a parent’s mature love for their child. We can be sure that the Father provided a foundation of Godly instruction, love and respect in the growing up years. But at the proper time he let his son go. We can do the same out of respect for the growing process that we all experience. But as a parent we never need let go of our love. As a parent we must let our grown children live their lives and experience consequences. But we can keep a bridge of love alive in our hearts. We can watch for the opportunity to run toward them, and lessen the distance between us. And we can celebrate any degree of healing that unfolds.