WHAT parent hasn't come face to face with the challenge of helping his or her child feel individual worth? Teachers and counselors recognize this need. Yet all of us sometimes feel frustrated by our apparent inability to help. Maybe the student who so obviously needs to accept his worth seems almost stubborn in an unwillingness to do so. Parental encouragement alone or even professional counseling frequently falls short of the mark. The parent loves the child and sees the good in him. Why, asks a father or mother, isn't that enough? Then a parent may start to accuse himself or herself of inadequacies: ``Maybe I disciplined the child too hard, or maybe I was too soft. Have I been a failure as a parent? Or is it just a case like Uncle Frank? Did my child inherit a trait of failure? Was my child just born to be a loser?''
But none of this speculation is going to help the child. What can help?
This message from the Bible can be a start: ``Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.''1 Although this verse from Mark refers specifically to Christ Jesus, an essential message of Jesus is that we all can claim our sonship with God and feel His love. Throughout the Bible we learn that man is the offspring of God, His beloved.
Now, to be sure, there are some requirements we have to fulfill in order to see that this designation truly belongs to us. We have to differentiate clearly between what characterizes the sons of God and what characterizes the children of mortals. We come to see, through prayer, that it is the spiritual nature of man, which is everyone's true selfhood, that is to be known as the child of God.
In the first chapter of John we read of the coming of Christ and learn that ``as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.''2 If we are to prove in our own lives the Biblical message of sonship with God, it's apparent that we need to accept the fact that the spiritual nature of man is actually what God created. And we're required to open our thought to the possibility of accepting our sonship with God.
So let's get back to that son or daughter who seems so unwilling to accept his or her worth. Are we accepting that as true about our child? Are we accepting it as true about ourselves and our parenting? Are we accepting it as true about Uncle Frank?
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, makes this arresting statement: ``Asserting a selfhood apart from God, is a denial of man's spiritual sonship; for it claims another father. As many as do receive a knowledge of God through Science, will have power to reflect His power, in proof of man's `dominion over all the earth.' He is bravely brave who dares at this date refute the evidence of material sense with the facts of Science, and will arrive at the true status of man because of it.''3
So any parent can look deeper than what the material senses tell him about his child, himself, or Uncle Frank! As a matter of fact, it is imperative to do this in order to worship God rightly as well as to correct the human situation. When we insist in prayer that the good in our children and in us is the real, that we're worthwhile because we're actually the creation of God, we're not turning away from reality but turning toward it. This recognition is a genuine and lasting help to the child who is trapped by a sense of being unworthy.
A useful approach to this can be for parents to make note mentally or even on paper of the good qualities they recognize in their son or daughter. Then they can consider the good qualities they'd like to see. Does the child of God's creating lack any good qualities? No. Then the parents can start accepting the spiritual, scientific fact that their child already includes all good attributes in his spiritual nature. The more parents realize this truth for their child and for themselves, the more they'll see it evidenced. We've proved this in our family, and so have many others.
This statement of Mrs. Eddy's has been a great comfort to us: ``Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness: conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing else can.''4
1Mark 1:11. 2John 1:12. 3Miscellaneous Writings, p. 183. 4Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 17. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Beloved, now are we the sons of God. I John 3:2