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Healing parent-child relationships

When our son was in college, he became extremely hostile toward his father and me. He accused his father of being too strict, and he accused me of being over-protective. Worst of all, our son blamed us as the cause of all his problems.

This accusation cut me to the quick, because I dearly love my son and wouldn't intentionally have done anything to hurt him. I suffered a great deal from the burden of thinking he might be right. I mentally reviewed events of the past to try to figure out how I might have caused his problems.

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One day, in deep anguish, I confided to a friend my concern about my son. The friend, a Christian Science practitioner, smiled compassionately and said: ''But you are not a cause. God is the only cause, and He causes only good.'' A surge of relief flooded through me. The heavy sense of unhappiness and guilt I had carried with me for weeks began to lift.

I was reminded of a statement made by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, which to me emphasizes the fact that God's creation is wholly spiritual. ''Divine Mind is the only cause or Principle of existence. Cause does not exist in matter, in mortal mind, or in physical forms.''n1

n1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 262.

It became clear to me that I needed to elevate, or spiritualize, my sense of parenthood. If I thought of myself merely as a human parent, subject to human error, then, in effect, I would be denying my son's and my own spiritual origin. I endeavored to identify us both as God's offspring, as His spiritual ideas. I affirmed that no alienation or separation could exist among God's harmonious ideas.

The story of Jacob and Esau illustrates the importance of spiritualizing our concept of family members. After a long separation Jacob was afraid to face his brother, Esau, whom he had cheated. He struggled all one night to overcome his fear of their confrontation. By morning, his concept of his brother -- and evidently of himself -- was so elevated that when he saw Esau he could exclaim, ''I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me."n2

n2 Genesis 33:10.

It wasn't easy at first, but gradually I was able to look through my son's accusing and suspicious glare and catch fleeting glimpses of God's pure, loving child. I tried to love him as his divine Parent loved him -- unconditionally, impartially, tenderly -- following the example of Christ Jesus. I made a conscious effort not to react to anything shocking he might say. The more I was able to impersonalize the accusations, the less they hurt.

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There was no sudden transformation on the part of our son. But as we continued to identify him as God's spiritual child, his attitude toward us gradually softened, and the accusations became less frequent and less hostile. Now he is openly affectionate to us, and we enjoy his fun-loving nature once more.

We parents are often called upon to make decisions regarding the welfare of our children. When we pray for divine guidance, we can expect to make wise decisions. If the way to go is not clear to us, however, we can do what seems nearest right at the time. Looking back, we may wish we'd done things differently. But our mistakes in raising our children don't need to come back to haunt us. We can learn better and rise above them through the power of the healing Christ, and they can be forgotten by both parent and child.

If we believed everything we read these days about parent-child relationships , we might think it's normal to go through periods of strained relations with our children. But Christian Science shows us that harmony among family members is natural and that relationships supported by prayer and spiritual discernment can be expected to deepen and grow over the years. DAILY BIBLE VERSE As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Romans 8:14-16

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