IN the summer children are out of school, so it's time for special plans. The formal educational phase ends and gives way to a recreational phase. But there is an education parents can help bring to their children that never ends -- spiritual education. And this is essential, because ultimately the progress and well-being of us all relate directly to our understanding and worship of the one God.
The Scriptures urge parents to teach their children vital lessons about God's love for man and the children's responsibility to live in harmony with divine law. The book of Proverbs says, ``Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.''1
``Wait a minute!'' a parent says. ``This is the age of video games and MTV! Do you really expect a child to be interested in spiritual education?''
Spiritual hunger and inquisitiveness are natural to children. When Jesus' parents lost track of him on the way home from Jerusalem, they returned to the city and found him -- age twelve, at the time -- in the temple, discussing spiritual matters with the teachers. His parents were surprised, but Jesus said: ``How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?''2
While, of course, Jesus is the Way-shower for mankind, this account can still point to the naturalness of children's receptivity to spirituality, to being about the Father's business. And parents can help children to know who ``the Father'' is.
The concept of a god who is nothing but a superhuman parent can be strong in a child's thought unless he is taught otherwise. Even a superhuman parent would have failings. So parents need to present the idea of God as infinite Spirit to children. Jesus taught that God is Spirit.3 And because Spirit is always present and is all-powerful, it doesn't fail, ever. Since God is ever-present Love, He is always listening, always ``paying attention.'' Children can always gain ``God's ear'' through prayer. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says: ``The `divine ear' is not an auditory nerve. It is the all-hearing and all-knowing Mind, to whom each need of man is always known and by whom it will be supplied.''4
The Bible is full of illustrations of God's loving care for His children. An important aspect of this love is that God makes demands on man. But His demands are not arbitrary or oppressive. They express His nature as Love. They're the outgrowth of divine law. The divine demand is that we express goodness and purity, because this is the only true basis of health. We need to make goodness the foundation of our thinking and living in order to be in harmony with the spiritual reality of life, which is totally good -- in order to be in harmony with our true selfhood.
Though each parent's way of teaching will be different, still a child must hear that God demands good thinking and acting. Mrs. Eddy writes, ``The entire education of children should be such as to form habits of obedience to the moral and spiritual law, with which the child can meet and master the belief in so-called physical laws, a belief which breeds disease.''5
This spiritual education is -- happily -- a journey that grows better and better. In a sense, God is the only real teacher here. Yet parents can aid greatly in the task. And they will be forming a bond of love with their children that won't be broken.
1Proverbs 22:6. 2Luke 2:49. 3See John 4:24. 4Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 7. 5Ibid., p. 62.