I have often found raising our son a challenge. When trying to talk to him or discipline him, I would frequently end up asking his father to do it because he seemed to be able to get through to him a lot better than I. Our son was getting into adolescent behavior where he would test boundaries. I didn’t know what I would do if I ever had to raise my son by myself, without my husband around.
Then one day, our family very suddenly had to leave where we were living because of political unrest. My husband had to stay behind because of his work, and I was temporarily left to raise our two kids alone.
This sudden change made matters with my son even worse, and he began acting out more frequently. One day I caught my son looking at a pornographic website. I was so upset! Before talking to him, I called friends and a Christian Science practitioner to ask how I could address this.
The practitioner helped me calm my thoughts, and we worked together for about a week. He helped me to refocus so that I wasn’t seeing my child as a sinner, but as a child of God. As I was thinking through all kinds of ways to fix the problem, the questions came to me: “What is our son really asking for? What are his real needs?”
I could sense that our son didn’t believe he was a “good kid.” Probably, in the past, my son had heard me say repeatedly what not to do, and I’d made him feel like a constantly misbehaving child.
I had never really prayed before about how to heal sin. I didn’t know where to start. So instead of starting with how I, as a parent, had “failed” at raising my son and how society had negatively influenced him, I started my prayers with how God created man.
The Bible, in Genesis 1, starts with the idea that God made man in His image and likeness. Christian Science teaches that Genesis 1 is the true account of creation, rather than the Genesis 2 account, which presents man as a sinner. Because God is good and man reflects His goodness, man is inherently good.
From this point of view, it was only natural for my son to behave and yearn to be a good child. I realized that the inappropriate Internet surfing, and the often disrespectful attitude, were unlike my son and could not mar or damage his spiritual identity as a child of God. God had written the law of goodness in his heart. “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide” (Psalms 37:31).
Spirituality alone can satisfy the human craving for something higher and more permanent.
Christ Jesus understood and beheld the perfect man, and this enabled him to heal sickness and sin (see Matthew 5:48 and Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 476–477). So I needed to behold the perfect man when I thought about or interacted with my son. What image was I holding of him? Daily, I prayed to see the good that God was seeing.
The thought came that every night before my son went to bed, he needed to hear what a good child he was. I sensed that even bringing up the small good things would help. For example: “I liked how you said, ‘Please.’ And I liked how you were sharing.”
I did this every day for a couple of weeks. I began to see progress in our son’s behavior, but one day we both got angry with each other and said some nasty things. We were both in tears. We tried to call his dad, but we couldn’t get hold of him.
I tried emailing some friends for ideas on how to deal with my son’s behavior, but I didn’t find what I was looking for. I even checked out about ten parenting books from the library. I was looking for answers everywhere.
It seemed as if no matter what I did, my son was unhappy. At my lowest moment in the middle of all this chaos, a spiritual intuition came to me: “... divine Love alone governs man; ...” (Mary Baker Eddy, Manual of The Mother Church, p. 40). This is from “A Rule for Motives and Acts” (Art. VIII, Sect. 1), so I’d heard it read many times in church.
What stood out to me this time was the word alone. Divine Love “alone” governed my son. Love didn’t need my help to make my son happy or to meet his needs. As parents, we want to give so much to our children, but sometimes no matter what we do, our children don’t appear to be satisfied. We can give them gifts, set up playdates, etc., hash out details by verbally communicating what needs to be fixed, but those things are temporary fixes. Spirituality alone can satisfy the human craving for something higher and more permanent.
God is the parent Mind, and man is God’s spiritual offspring.
—Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 336
As Science and Health states, “Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more readily attained and would be more secure in our keeping, if sought in Soul” (p. 60). And how good to know that my son had never been deprived of God, divine Soul.
I also realized that although it felt as if I did not know what my son needed, Love did. Love was giving him what he needed every moment. The answer or the solution didn’t have to come from his father, friends, books, places, or things. I began to feel assured that divine Love would meet our son’s every human need, and that necessary adjustments would take place. Love was governing my son, and I needed to fully trust the law of Love.
As a result of this prayer and listening, my husband and I came up with a creative idea—a point system that rewarded good behavior and would encourage our son to make progress in demonstrating his real selfhood as God’s perfect man. Our son responded to this. But it really was divine Love’s work that nurtured the change. No point system could make such a drastic change.
I saw that my son began acting like not only a better son but a better brother and student. Over the course of a few weeks, his character softened, and he became pleasant to be around. At one point I thought this would be just a temporary fix, especially since my husband would come to visit us for the holidays and then have to leave again. But I really felt confident that we’d had a healing when that message had come to me again, even more clearly, that Love was governing this situation.
From the material perspective it might have looked as if my son was often lacking a father figure, and there was nothing I could do about it. However, from a spiritual perspective, his Father-Mother God had never left him. My son was always complete. Love was keeping my son in perfect peace.
It wasn’t up to me to find peace for our son. And his dad didn’t take my son’s peace away with him when he left for long stretches of time. My son included all right ideas; he had everything he needed. Man is “the compound idea of God, including all right ideas; …” (Science and Health, p. 475).
Love was governing my son, and I needed to fully trust the law of Love.
I am happy to say that when my husband did leave again to return to his work abroad, my son’s progress continued, clear evidence to me that God’s law was governing my son, as it always truly had been. It has been more than a year since these events, and my son and I have continued to have a loving relationship. Neither one of us, when disagreeing on something, has gotten out of control. As I kept holding on to the perfect idea of man, I made sure that I wasn’t holding on to a negative material picture of our son—a child with a personality that could change with human circumstances or events. I needed to hold on to my son’s spiritual identity because that could never change. My son could never be separated from his true spiritual identity because he could never be separated from Spirit, God, as Spirit’s expression.
I’ve learned to be more patient. When behavior issues begin to arise, I am quickly reminded to rely on divine Love for parental guidance, and the “shadow” of misbehavior disappears, replaced by the light of peace. Love continues to shine in our household. I’m so grateful for Christian Science and the divine laws of Love, which reveal to us exactly what is true about God and man.
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