Unburdened parenting

TWO young fathers were discussing their children. ``My four-year-old son is a wonder!'' exclaimed one father, adding earnestly, ``But every day I realize more and more what a huge responsibility it is to be a parent.'' Along with the acknowledged joys and blessings of having children comes a feeling of burden for many parents, often based on an acute sense of responsibility. There's no question that parenting carries with it major responsibilities. But a feeling of burden can lift as we come to realize that God is the one Parent of all. He is Father-Mother, and man is His image. This image is who each of us really is--it's our actual selfhood. In truth, then, each of us reflects the divine qualities of love, wisdom, understanding, intelligence, peace, grace, and joy. And so we can know the right thing to do at each moment for a child. The one Parent is infinitely able and willing to care for every child of His creating. Although human parents may fall short of perfection, God, the unerring Mind, is perfect. He is unchanging Principle, Love, which is always right. The Bible represents God as saying of an agent of His will, ``I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways.'' 1 Turning to God in prayer, parents can find spiritually inspired answers regarding child rearing. They can be inspired with right ideas and led to take appropriate steps. They will be humble enough to listen to others but wise enough to recognize that all-knowing Mind, God, is the supreme intelligence. ``The opinions of men,'' observes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, ``cannot be substituted for God's revelation.'' 2 Mrs. Eddy has also written, ``Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.'' 3 The understanding and acceptance of this spiritual truth is a great burden-lifter for parents everywhere. Whether the need involves finances, discipline, or the healing of a physical trouble, parents can turn to divine Love, the source of all good, and strive to express that Love which removes fear and heals. As a young mother visiting in my parents' home one summer, I experienced a double proof of God's unfailing parental care. While doing some laundry in the basement, I inadvertently caught my hand in the old-fashioned wringer, and my arm was pulled through to the elbow. In pain and unable to locate the release lever, I called out for my mother, who hurried downstairs to my aid, leaving the cellar door open. She scarcely had time to release my arm before a small body came hurtling down the steep steps and onto the concrete floor. My little daughter, at the toddling stage, had found the open door. My own pain forgotten, I picked the child up and carried her upstairs where mother began reading to us both from that week's Lesson-Sermon,4 which was on the subject ``God the Preserver of Man.'' Thought was at once lifted to the infinite Father-Mother God, our ever-present help and comfort. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy gives the spiritual sense of certain Biblical terms. Her definition of Japhet, one of Noah's son's, was especially helpful to us: ``A type of spiritual peace, flowing from the understanding that God is the divine Principle of all existence, and that man is His idea, the child of His care.'' 5 In a few moments the child's

crying had ceased. Shortly after, she resumed her play. By the time the rest of the family returned home that evening, only a slight scratch was visible on her head, and no mark at all remained on my arm. In his true nature, man, as God's spiritual idea, is safe in Mind, and is never really subject to accident, heredity, contagion, disease, temperament. He is under the perpetual law of Love; of safety, perfection, purity, and peace. It's our privilege to prove this, to prove that no one, in his or her true selfhood, is a helpless little mortal or a fearful big mortal, an irresponsible youth or burdened-with-responsibility adult. In truth all are God's spiritual offspring, under the care of the one Father , who is responsible for and eternally maintains each beloved child. How freeing it is to understand that in the final analysis God is the governor of man. This in no way lessens the legal and moral demands made on us as accountable parents; but it points to the possibility of better, more effective mothering and fathering without burdensome fear, self-depreciation, doubt, guilt, and so forth. It holds the promise of joy and satisfaction, of unburdened parenting! 1 Isaiah 45:13. 2 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 92. 3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 494. 4 Outlined in the Christian Science Quarterly. 5 Science and Health, p. 589.

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