Our children need not be helpless

RECENTLY a heart-rending article appeared in our local newspaper. The writer was a columnist and parent, lamenting about the safety of children. Every stranger becomes suspect around them, and parents are torn between being ``worried on the one hand about perverts, concerned on the other about smothering children in an overly protective web.'' 1 The columnist saw no answer to the problem, and it made him angry. As every parent knows, these concerns and fears appear very threatening at times. The newspaper column brought back memories of my own concern when our children were small. But we are not, as the writer suggests, helpless before these anguished thoughts. There are answers that can comfort the parent and all those who love and cherish children, answers that show us our children need not be helpless before evil. These answers lie in developing an awareness of God's omnipotent power and loving presence in the child's thought as well as in the parents'. This consciousness of good is a powerful tool in facing the despotism of evil. In the Bible can be found many comforting verses that show God's ever-presence. As a child I was encouraged to memorize them and think of them often. Verses such as ``He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways,'' 2 and ``The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.'' 3 Also, ``Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?'' 4 As a student in the Christian Science Sunday School I vividly remember learning this statement of absolute truth from the textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by Mary Baker Eddy5: ``God is everywhere, and nothing apart from Him is present or has power.'' 6 This truth is not only very comforting; it's a practical, powerful force for good in one's life. Developing a child's spiritual sense and intuition, and his understanding of God's great goodness, power, and love for man, is the greatest protection a parent can give. Because evil cannot stand before the power of good, a perception of this fact enables one to progressively overcome evil. Mrs. Eddy writes: ``Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited.'' 7 When my sister and I were quite young we were allowed to walk down a country road to our grandparents' home. It was a lovely walk, and we did it often. One day a car came alongside us and a man asked if he could give us a ride. We shook our heads ``no,'' but he continued to urge us to get into the car. I remember looking at the man and realizing intuitively that his motives were not good. As he continued to call to us, my sister and I began to skip and run down the road, praying as we went. When he saw that we were firm in our denial, he drove off. When we reached our grandmother's house, we told her all about the encounter. She wrapped us in her arms and reminded us of the truths we had been learning in Sunday School about God and how He loves everyone. We were also learning that we must see through the evil to the true man that God made, and then we would always be safe. Although my sister and I continued to do things by ourselves after that incident, our parents made sure that we were in Sunday School every Sunday, and reminded us often to listen intently for God's thoughts and to obey them. As our own children grew to be teen-agers, my husband and I continued to educate them spiritually. However, I also realized how important it is for the parent actively to pray daily in the child's defense. Each morning I would set aside time to embrace each child in my thought with the spiritual truths I had been learning in the study of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook. Our safety as well as our children's lies in an active realization of these truths. Daily developing a child's spiritual sense could well be the greatest gift a parent can give him. 1 Reprinted in The Orange County Register, September 12, 1984. 2 Psalms 91:11. 3 Psalms 121:8. 4 Psalms 139:7. 5 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 6 Science and Health, p. 473. 7 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 210.{et

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