My husband and I entered parenthood knowing almost nothing about raising kids, having grown up basically as “only” children. We did read some parenting books, but their theories often seemed less than helpful. It wasn’t long before we decided the most practical, day-by-day parenting approach for us was prayer.
Even though my husband and I were then members of different faiths, we both naturally gravitated to the Bible as a parenting handbook. We read the Scriptures together as a family every day, even when our son and daughter were infants, believing that if we gave them a strong moral and spiritual education, everything else would turn out all right. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Over the years, my husband’s confidence gradually grew in the book I usually studied alongside the Bible, Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” These two books helped us grasp this fundamental point about parenting: that God is the infinitely caring and omnipotent Father and Mother of all of us. Jesus began his famous prayer with these comforting words: “Our Father which art in heaven.” Science and Health gives this sense of that line: “Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious” (p. 16).
What a relief to realize that our children’s real Father and Mother (and ours) is forever and harmoniously in charge of His-Her creation. There is a higher authority we – parents and children – can humbly ask for answers to the many questions that arise in a family. In fact, the greatest treasure we can give our children is to teach them to look to God for everything they need.
But we also learned we couldn’t preach to our kids about turning to God. We had to “walk the walk,” not just talk about it. The Christian Science Sunday School taught our children Moses’ Ten Commandments, as well as Jesus’ Lord’s Prayer and Sermon on the Mount. But as parents, we needed to practice those great teachings. And if we didn’t, believe me, our kids noticed!
Something else those books taught us is how much we can learn from children. Jesus loved the purity and innocence of children. “You will never get into God’s kingdom unless you enter it like a child!” he told his followers (Luke 18:17, Contemporary English Version). Science and Health describes children as “The spiritual thoughts and representatives of Life, Truth, and Love” (p. 582). Keeping company with such “representatives” is parenting at its best.
My husband and I now enjoy watching our grown children turn to the Bible and Science and Health for help in raising their children. Our granddaughter Emma, for instance, recently awakened during the night feeling sick to her stomach, and asked her mother to pray with her. Together, they read aloud some pages from Science and Health that highlighted the spirituality and perfection of God’s children, made in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27). In about 20 minutes, Emma felt well again, and went back to bed for the rest of the night.
Instant response, reliable guidance, reliable healing – that’s what our two favorite parenting books offer humanity.