Grown children and parents
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
A woman burst into her mother's house and said, "Mother, I'm so sorry. You are a square peg and I have been trying to fit you into a round hole." A loving conversation followed, and the daughter expressed her newly-realized appreciation and support for her mother, especially of her right to make her own decisions about friends, where to live, and what kind of social life to have.
This event did not come as an accident. The mother had been troubled about her daughter's perception of her, and she was praying to recover her confidence in her own capacity to think clearly and make right decisions for herself. Her prayers were underpinned by knowing that God is the only Mind, and therefore is the Mind that governs her and everyone. God, divine Love, gives each of us intelligence, wisdom, self-knowledge, and self-government.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love" ("Pulpit and Press," pg. 3). The mother had been praying with this truth and felt comforted by it. She also believed that her daughter's change of heart was a result of those prayers about her relation to God.
Too often, adult children think they know what is best for their grown parents. They believe that their familial relationship gives them special insight and authority to dictate their parents' decisions and actions. This misplaced sense of love often breaks the Golden Rule of doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.
It's not that children cannot advise and enlighten their parents or care about them. There are occasions when parents may ask their children to care for them in a time of need. But for children to willfully impose a course of action when there is no need for it is to deny the parents' capacity to listen for God's direction and follow their highest understanding of what is the right thing to do. We feel loved when we are trusted.
Perhaps the better course is to trust one's parents to God's loving and tender care to know that God is responsible for every one of His children, regardless of age. Parents are not excluded from access to Mind's wisdom and direction. Age, living alone, change of career, economic adjustments, and social downsizing do not impact an individual's ability to know what is right.
The caring adult child can also challenge misconceptions about aging parents. Memory loss, indecision, stubbornness, and poor judgment are not part of God or of His creation. Questioning these misconceptions will enable the child to respect and appreciate a parent's dignity and worth. Not only will this enable the child to trust the parent, but it will help the child understand everyone's right to freedom from these misconceptions.
Jesus' care for his mother shows how he trusted her to God's care. There is no evidence that he interfered with her life or her decisions. But this did not stop him from caring for her. While he was on the cross, he instructed his disciple John to look after his mother.
The Bible records this tender and infinitely compassionate event: "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home" (John 19:26, 27).
The daughter who gained a fresher insight into her mother's God-given capacity "to think and act rightly" didn't ignore her mother and walk away. Their love for each other was strengthened by this healing. And why not, since both mother and daughter felt more of God's care, which brought them closer together.
Honour thy father and
thy mother: that thy days
may be long upon the land
which the Lord thy
God giveth thee.