What delight a new baby can bring to the family circle! Yet in some homes a new babe can bring out the worst in parents. Individuals who were abused or neglected as children often find themselves treating their own offspring abusively.
Can parents cultivate the essentials of good parenting even if they lacked proper care themselves?
No matter what our human history, we can find the help we need in God, our true Parent, who is forever cherishing us. All of us are truly children of God, Spirit. Though it appears that we're merely finite, material beings, the offspring of two mortals, our actual selfhood is the outcome of Spirit, of divine Love, as we can learn from the Scriptures.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, elaborates on this point. She writes: ''In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry.'' And she continues further along, ''Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father , and Life is the law of his being.'' n1
n1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.63.
God has created us to express His perfect nature, to be witnesses of His infinite goodness. Our divine Father-Mother is ever-present Love; and since Deity fills all space and is infinitely powerful, we can never really lack His tender care.
Love seems to be absent at times because of our ignorance of God's nearness and power. Too often we look to other people for the constant, dependable, perfect love that can only be found in God. When family members or friends disappoint us, we're likely to react with anger or fear instead of finding our peace and security in Love.
When we look beyond the shortcomings of others to the omnipotence of divine Love, we begin to awake to the ever-presence of God's care. We feel loved, even if we've been abused in the past or if those around us are now behaving in an abusive manner. And this feeling of Love's presence enables us to express the calmness and love of the divine nature; to heal feelings of frustration, anger, even hatred. The Bible promises, ''Thus saith the Lord . . . . As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.'' n2
n2 Isaih 66:12, 13.
To truly feel and express God's love, we need to turn to our Father-Mother with humility and steadfast faith. We need to ''see'' God with our spiritual sense, our spiritual intuition, since Spirit and its beneficence can only be discerned spiritually.
I can recall a period of months where a friend was repeatedly abusive - often verbally, but occasionally physically. There was one particular time when I was slapped in the face rather forcefully.
My ammunition was simply an abiding trust in the example of forgiveness set by the master Christian, Christ Jesus. Again and again I thought of his response when facing persecution. Secure in the understanding of his unity with divine Love, Jesus could say of his crucifiers, ''Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.'' n3 This profound Christian love gave Jesus the victory over hate and revenge - even over death itself. His supreme example was my staff and rod when faced with abuse. It enabled me to respond with compassion and forgiveness.
n3 Luke 23:34
My friend's behavior turned me more forcefully than ever to my Father-Mother. I felt I had no choice but to lean trustingly on God's care and protection. In time, I was totally freed from that destructive relationship. But more, I was released from a sense of emotional upheaval. There was a peace within that kept me unscathed.
Certainly, those learning the art of good parenting can find this same peace. They can see beyond abuse in their past or present to the truth of Love's uninterrupted presence and of everyone's actual unity with Love. Through prayer they can feel Love's tender embrace impelling them to be patient, gentle, and wise in handling their children, even at times of crisis.
We need only turn to our divine Father-Mother - humbly, trustingly, spiritually - to discern the good that is ever at hand. Leaning on Love, we'll know how to raise our children in the haven of love. DAILY BIBLE VERSE God is love. 1John 4:16