When our daughter was fourteen she went out on her first date alone with a boy. We had agreed on a deadline for her to be home, and precisely to the minute his car pulled up to the curb in front of the house.
They sat in the car and talked. And talked. And talked.
I was in the living room waiting, and wondering why she didn't come in. After fussing for what seemed like an hour, I said to my wife, ''Do I have to go out and drag her in?'' She replied, ''There's a better way.''
This completely changed my standpoint of thinking. We were both Christian Scientists, and I knew that my wife was gently telling me I should turn my thought to God in prayer, which I did.
As soon as I replaced disturbed, mortal thinking with an acknowledgment that God alone governs man, I immediately saw results. My daughter said good night to her friend and hurried into the house. I hadn't tried to control her thinking; I just knew that God - Principle - governs her always.
Some years later when my daughter was out on a date I had gone to bed and slept soundly for a number of hours. I woke up and realized she had not come home and that it was long past midnight, the time I had expected her to be home. This time I didn't wait before starting to pray.
Through prayer I gradually replaced the false view of my daughter as a mortal who could be hurt or in danger, with the realization that as the spiritual image of God she could not truly be touched by evil. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, ''The divine Mind that made man maintains His own image and likeness.'' n1
n1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 151.
My thought became flooded with a sense of God's all-presence. I knew He was with her and that she could turn to Him and receive the guidance she needed. She was under God's control, under His protection.
We are assured by the Psalmist, ''The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.'' n2 We can't be with our children all the time, but God is. We need not, then, follow them physically or mentally with fearful thoughts. As we learn to identify our children as God's offspring, under His care, we are freed from fears for their safety.
n2 Psalms 121:8.
Reassured by the Bible promise, I returned to bed. Within a few minutes I heard her open the front door. As she went past our door she said quietly, ''I'm sorry I'm late, but everything is all right. I'll explain in the morning.'' My prayers had been answered; fear had been defeated.
As parents we naturally take steps to see that our children are wise in their actions and relationships. Trusting God doesn't imply any lessening of parental responsibility. We always found out where our daughter was going when she went out. We discussed the time she expected to be back. By the time she left for college she had proved herself to be sensible and thoughtful. She had prayed for herself many times and seen how God governs His offspring.
Children canm turn to God in every need. He is always with them. They can learn to listen for His guidance, and this is much better than even the best human advice we can offer. By encouraging them to trust in Him, we give them the most precious gift available.
Whatever challenge may face our children - whether it involves smoking, drinking, drugs, sex - they need not be victimized. In truth, man belongs to God , who is always present to help. Perhaps our most important job as parents is to realize that fact and to know they willm be guided rightly, that He will see them safely home. DAILY BIBLE VERSE In thee, O Lord, dal put my trust. Psalms 31:1