Reliable parenting books

A Christian Science perspective.

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’sScience 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.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.