NOT an easy question to answer in these times. Sometimes, though, we don't seem to have a choice as to whether we want to be a parent. With my children grown, I can look backward and forward and truthfully say, ``I am glad I was and am a parent.'' It wasn't always easy! My first challenge came when I learned that I was to be a father. I had looked forward to having children; I just wasn't sure that right then was the time. Up to that time there were many ways I had benefited from prayer. But it was the prospect of becoming a parent that made prayer very real to me. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, helps us to understand the spiritual sense of the Lord's Prayer. Her interpretation begins:
``Our Father which art in heaven,
Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious....''1
As I learned more clearly that God was my children's Father-Mother, as well as my own, I was able to approach parenthood with a more balanced sense of responsibility. I had to put this understanding to the test right away. Late in my wife's pregnancy, the child's position indicated that the birth could be very difficult. We had been praying, but now we turned even more earnestly to God. The baby turned in the final stages of labor and was born normally.
As the children grew, I thought of the verse from Proverbs, ``Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.''2 And, of course, I always knew just how to ``train up'' my children -- or so I thought. I had lots to learn about caring for children! The most important lesson I learned was to turn to God for direction at every crossroads. Being a parent has helped me learn that since God is omnipotent and omnipresent, and since man is His image and likeness, then as we and our children express this love, order, intelligence, our lives are happy and progressive.
But you may say: ``Wait a minute. What about all the evil that my children are exposed to?'' Well, what about drugs, premarital sex, violence, and the hosts of other problems that face both parents and children? Don't these come from the carnal mind, which tries mightily to obscure the spiritual truth that undergirds each individual's relationship with God? But the pure and harmonious picture is the real, because it is of God.
Such reasoning might seem far-fetched at first. But we can prove it for ourselves by obeying the Biblical admonition ``Be still, and know that I am God.''3 Then both children and parents are guided by God to do what will bless the family, the community, and mankind. It isn't just reading the Bible that turns the tide; it is actually living the Biblical qualities of humility, patience, selflessness, and grace that lets us see God's power in our lives.
This was not always easy for me. In fact my children were adults before I learned some of the lessons -- and I'm still learning. But there were very tangible rewards to approaching parenthood this way. For instance, there was the time our five-year-old son shared spiritual truths that healed me of severe stomach cramps.
There are many challenges to being a parent, but it can be a happy experience when you turn to God for direction. He is not only your children's Father-Mother but yours too, and He loves and directs us all when we listen to Him.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 16. 2Proverbs 22:6. 3Psalms 46:10.