CHILDREN in single-parent households are often faced with adult responsibilities. This can lead to confusion over where the authority in the family lies and can undermine the harmony of a home. In such situations many single parents and their children are hard put to find ways to share responsibility and, at the same time, maintain rightful parental authority. But there is a way to establish respect and obedience at home. It stems from the prayerful reliance of both parent and child on God's authority. When we realize that man as the child of God, who is divine Principle, is always obedient to divine authority, clashes of wills diminish, and we find that our home is more peaceful because we are obeying the law of God. Conflicts in the home over rules, responsibilities, opinions, can be more easily corrected when we realize that each individual is responsive to divine leadings. As the Bible reassures us in Philippians, ``It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.''
When I was a teenager, my father's death was difficult for my family. As the eldest child living at home, I had many new responsibilities to live up to. And I was often upset that I didn't have the authority to go along with them. My efforts to assert myself about how the household should be run were disputed by my mother and younger brother. Unfortunately, my dissatisfaction often led to bitter arguments that I knew our family could not endure. I realized that we all needed God's help.
I began earnestly to study the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. I was struck one day by Mrs. Eddy's statement ``Science is a divine demand, not a human. Always right, its divine Principle never repents, but maintains the claim of Truth by quenching error.'' I saw then that conflicting beliefs about what was right or wrong didn't have the power to disturb the harmony of our home that I believed they had. Divine Principle, God, was the one authority for every decision and would always be right. God would govern our home.
I prayed to listen for the direction of divine Principle. And I began to appreciate divine Principle as the universal law of Love that was demonstrated by Christ Jesus. Science and Health points out: ``Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.'' The divine message which Jesus expressed so completely was not speaking just to me. I was not struggling alone for harmony. Prayer, inspired by Christ, embraced every member of my family with the love that comes from God, divine Love.
I felt more love than ever before. Instead of family agreement and cooperation being undermined by new responsibilities, our family began to grow as a result of them. Kind, considerate words came more often into our home. Mother was able to provide for our family financially and have a rewarding career. My younger brother became more independent. I became more tolerant and caring as I turned more readily to God's authority. This lasting change for the better taught me that it is God, divine Principle, who enables a family to live in obedience to the law of Love.
Respect for parents is essential. However, to obey fully the commandment ``Honour thy father and thy mother,'' both parents and children must cultivate a desire to honor and obey God, good, in daily life. In this way, differences can be met and mastered under the authority of one infinite, all-wise God.