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RAISING a family can be quite a challenge. Whether the children are very young, are teenagers, or are off on their own, a parent's sense of responsibility never ends. We can do a better job, however, as we learn more of man's relationship to God, and learn to trust our children--and ourselves--to His care.

God's care for man is the model after which we can fashion our parent-child relationships. God's fatherhood provides for and protects His child; God's motherhood nourishes and cherishes us. We provide for, protect, nourish, and cherish our children more responsibly as we reflect God's love more fully. Man, God's child, is His image and likeness, and that man--our true individuality-- is the direct reflection of the infinite Mind, God.

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When one of our daughters was quite small, she was sitting at the end of a couch. I turned around just in time to see her as she leaned over to pick up a toy and fell headfirst onto the floor. I immediately picked her up. And because I'm a student of Christian Science, it was natural for me to talk to her tenderly of God's ever-presence. I reminded her of God's goodness, power, and dominion. Soon, she stopped crying and went on playing happily without any discomfort whatsoever.

Every time I closed my eyes, however, I would mentally see her fall again! It took considerable prayer to erase this mental picture and overcome my fear for her. I prayed to understand that God's child is never out of His embrace. I knew God doesn't create or allow evil. And I prayed to understand my daughter's freedom, and my freedom, from any inharmonious experience. I knew that because God governed our household, only His goodness could be manifested. I also reminded myself that my daughter was God's child, made in His image and likeness, and that God was directly responsible for her and for her well-being. As a result of this prayer, it wasn't long before I was free from the haunting image.

Learning that God is directly responsible for each of His ideas, for us, we find a misplaced fearful sense of responsibility for our children fading away. This doesn't mean that we stop caring for them, but that we learn to care for them better while we trust them to God's permanent care and protection. God naturally and easily takes care of all His ideas--he governs, protects, guides, and loves each one of us. Man innately reflects God's government and guidance; man innately reflects the fatherhood and motherhood of God; he is not a victim of accident or incident.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Accidents are unknown to God, or immortal Mind, and we must leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind, in order to change the notion of chance to the proper sense of God's unerring direction and thus bring out harmony." Whether we're dealing with an accident, sickness, or sin, we can prayerfully turn to God for guidance and protection. Uniting with God a nd His laws establishes our life on a spiritual basis--and it's this basis that becomes our haven.

Christ Jesus taught, ``Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." We can choose to take his counsel and begin to understand that God is the Father of all. He is the grand creator, and man is His creation. Thus we can look to Him, as we raise our family, for guidance, protection, peace, nourishment, care. And through reflection we can find His goodness expressed in our lives.

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