Right parenthood: what it is, what it takes
Apart from the demands of time, money, and personal sacrifice, parenthood requires visionm . True Christian parenthood means keeping the ideal of spiritual freedom in the foreground of everything one does and says in connection with his or her children. It means commitment to following as far as possible the life of Christ Jesus. His life gives us the standard. It shows what qualities are always present in that original man whom God made in His image n1 -- qualities manifested humanly as genuineness of character, deep honesty, resolute openness to divine direction.
n1 See Genesis 1:26;
These qualities express spiritual identity. We are all given such an identity, and we can show it to our children in so many ways. Mary Baker Eddy, Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, expresses the practicality of this ideal. She says, "Holding the rightm idea of man in my mind, I can improve my own, and other people's individuality, health, and morals . . . ."n2 Surely one of the most beneficent influences parents can bestow on their children is their own vision -- and their own living out -- of the Christ nature.
n1Miscellaneous Writings, p. 62;
An incident between a father and his three-year-old son illustrates how this mutual spiritual nurturing can work. As the two were playing together in a public park, the father announced that it was time to go home. The boy grimaced and screamed, stiffening his body in tantrum- like opposition. At first the father felt his own adrenalin rising with the equally ferocious conviction of his own authority. But he was also angered at what he felt was a manifestation of his own worst temperamental traits, adopted now by his son.
In the preceding days, the father had been deeply contemplating the healing qualities of the Saviour, trying to feel more acutely just what these qualities were. It suddenly came to him what Jesus was actually doing when he beheld the deranged man n3 he must have been feeling an intense gladness in knowing that God had not made man to be "out of his mind." This -- as the father saw it -- was a specifically rejoicing gladness, one of supremacy and victory over a mistaken view of man.
n3 See Mark 5:1-15;
The parent realized that in his situation, too, emotional upset (a lesser but still definite kind of "derangement") could not maintain a convincing show when held in the light of such glad spiritual recognition. And this profound gladness, felt now by the parent in contemplation of the Christ, resulted in the boy's immediate return to his characteristic serenity. In the meantime the father had had a moment of truth concerning himself. He had shed the light of the Christ, Truth, on his own temperamental conditioning. And this gave new impetus to his growth in spiritual freedom.
To nurture young ones in the realization of their true nature as God's representatives, we as parents should feel a definite momentum in our own Christian growth. We should feel an increasing willingness to conform our lives to the Christly nature Jesus himself embodied and to accept its loving, regenerative influence. We should let the quiet, inner urgings of purified motives become more prominent, less dominated by the demands of human reason and personality.
To awaken ourselves and our children to the giving, healing Christ nature to which all of us are called may require patience and persistence. But once our desire to realize this capacity is awakened, the joy of spiritual growth is irresistible. A child growing up with parents who are impelled to their own spiritual growth is helped in knowing what path to follow.
"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." n4 The Christ is the way. And love for the Christ should be our basic, motivating thrust in rearing children. The salvation of the world largely depends on how keenly and fully this motive impels us as the parents of coming generations.
n4 Proverbs 22:6.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE Children are an heritag e of the Lord. Psalms 127:3