At different times, parents may feel fearful or even bewildered about their children's health, attitude, and well-being. They may seek guidance from a variety of sources. There are, for example, many books being published about parenting. A great many of them emphasize problems facing parents during the child-rearing years. In fact, some books could be described as "parental survival kits." Wide-ranging topics, such as how to establish a better schedule for a crying baby, how to have discipline without shouting, and how to overcome worry, conflict, and stress when there is a teenager in the home, are discussed.
Yet even with these aids parents may continue to feel weighed down with a burdened sense of responsibility. When human techniques, methodologies, and psychological approaches fail to comfort or heal, where can one turn?
Many parents have found that the spiritual truths learned through the study of Christian Science have proved invaluable in the care and raising of children.
The key to better, more successful parenting is the recognition that God is in fact our true Father and Mother—the Father-Mother of all. As Mrs. Eddy explains in Science and Health, "Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation." This realization helps us, as parents, overcome a personal sense of overresponsibility. Parental fears, burdens, and anxieties lessen as we learn to lean on God's fatherhood and motherhood.
Let's take a moment and consider God as our Father-Mother. If we come from a traditional religious background, we can probably easily think of God as fatherly and being caring, benevolent, protective, and powerful. Christian Science helps us expand our concept of Deity and reveals Him as equally motherly, too. God is infinite Love and thus is nurturing, loving, sheltering, and gentle. He is the divine, ever-present Parent we can always turn to. He loves us. He helps us.
A burdened, personal sense of love can be replaced by a confident assurance of true parenthood being of God.
As we gain a better spiritual understanding of God as Father-Mother, we also gain a better spiritual understanding of the true identities of our children and ourselves. The Bible tells us that God is Spirit. It indicates that His children are made in His image and likeness. Since we are created by Spirit, God, our real selfhood must be spiritual, not material as the physical senses report. Since God is infinite good, His children can experience good because man expresses, by reflection, what God is. Since God maintains His harmony, which being eternal has to be perfect, He maintains the harmony and perfection of His children.
The knowledge of this and other spiritual facts enables us to reason with spiritual conviction when we are faced with the material evidence of discordant conditions. We see that if something isn't good, God didn't make it and it doesn't belong to His children. Therefore we can prayerfully confront things like poor health, mental deficiency, as well as any traits of selfishness, stubbornness, dishonesty, or poor judgment associated with our children. Simultaneously, we can reject and overcome our own reactions or overprotectiveness, fear, impatience, unreceptiveness, or anger. In proportion as we understand and stick with the spiritual truth that God is the one Father-Mother and that each of us is in fact the child of God, healing can occur. And we'll learn step by step what practical and effective decisions to make to provide the care that is necessary.
The Biblical account of Christ Jesus' healing of the nobleman's son provides insights about parenting with spiritual conviction. The nobleman didn't have much spiritual conviction at first, because he was weighed down with concern, fear, and preconceived ideas about how things should be done.
The nobleman came to Jesus and implored him to come to his house to heal his son, who was close to death with a high fever. The nobleman had some faith that a healing would occur, as both his coming to Jesus and his request showed. But in order that the healing might be successful, he apparently felt it had to be accomplished in the way that he himself had outlined. Jesus tested the nobleman's faith. He bluntly replied, "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." The nobleman, not realizing that he needed increased trust in God's ever-present care and that he could believe because of Jesus' word alone, again urgently asked Jesus to come with him. He still limited the power of God and linked help with the bodily presence of Jesus.
By choosing not to go in this case, Jesus enlarged the nobleman's faith to a fuller understanding of Christ, which is the presence of the power of God and the power of the presence of God. Jesus confidently assured him, "Go thy way; thy son liveth." The nobleman believed Jesus' word and returned home expecting to find his son healed. He now had spiritual conviction. Not only was the nobleman's son healed at the same hour when Jesus had spoken the words of Truth, but also the father was healed of his lack of faith in God's healing love and power.
Just as the awakened spiritual awareness of the Father-Mother God's ever-presence helped the nobleman realize that his son was always in God's care, it can help us apprehend this divine fact about our children too. When you think about it, isn't the cause of many of our fearful worries that we think of our children as "ours" and feel that we are personally responsible for them?
Naturally, we love and take care of our children and cannot ignore our important parental responsibilities. But a burdened, personal sense of love can be replaced by a confident assurance of true parenthood being of God. We can sense the ever-presence of God, Love. We can be calm even when faced with challenging circumstances. We can perceive that our responsibility is to bear witness to God's ability to govern. As Paul writes in Philippians, "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." As we draw close to God, He will not only tenderly care for our children but also show us what is wise and loving in parenting them.
A Christian Scientist couple were fearful when they witnessed their young toddler accidentally fall onto the edge of a metal bed frame and severely cut her head. As the mother cradled the crying child in her arms and tended to the deep wound, the father called a Christian Science practitioner for prayerful support. She offered comforting words about God's uninterrupted love and care for His children and took up prayer for the child.
The bleeding, although it had initially been profuse, stopped. After consulting with a Christian Science nurse, the parents cleansed and bandaged the wound. The child continued to play. There was no pain or side effects. In a few days, the wound was completely closed, and she was healed.
One might ask, "How does a healing like this happen?" Perhaps these parents' example will help. After they had given their daughter lots of hugs and kisses and provided care for the wound, they found themselves in a mental battle, replaying the event in their thoughts and struggling with concerns and fears about their daughter. They also felt guilty that the accident had happened, even though it was clearly no one's fault. The parents realized they needed to have a more spiritual approach to parenthood. As students of Christian Science, they had learned from their study and other healings in their lives that their fears were really based on a misconception of man, who is the flawless, spiritual reflection of an unchanging, perfect God. Perceiving this divine fact, they could be peaceful and confident in God's healing power.
Fear has its false foundation in the belief that there is some place where God is not in control and that there is a presence apart from God, good, which could be more powerful than Him. But this could never be true. There is no Biblical support for this erroneous belief. Isaiah records this deific command: "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else."
The parents knew that their daughter could not be deprived of her spiritual heritage, which is not confined or defined by the bodily evidence. As God's child and the object of His loving care, man is forever the perfect, spiritual reflection of the perfect creator. And this can be proved for each one of us—adult or child.
The certainty of the allness, goodness, and unchangeableness of God, of the perfection of man, His idea, and of the consequent nothingness of evil in any form, is the basis of spiritual healing. Holding in thought to the divine facts with spiritual conviction, the parents and the practitioner found inspiration, comfort, and healing.
When we are faced with parental challenges, we too can trust in God. We can let go of our burdened and anxious concerns of parenting and recognize that the infinite resources of divine Father-Mother God are there to help us.