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How can I best incorporate God into my parenting?

Parenting can be looked at in three ways. The first is rather biological, seeing parenthood as the begetting of offspring. The second is more nurturing, seeing a parent as one who brings up and cares for another being. The third is more encompassing, seeing the parent as the source from which something is derived.

In the Christian tradition, our view of God is influenced by our personal experience of the divine, what the Bible tells us about how God acts in the world, and by what our religious traditions tells us about the nature of God. Scripture and tradition inform us that God is not only the source and the sustainer of all things, but that God is primarily the encompassing source in which we live, and move, and have our being.

A good way of incorporating God into parenting is to remember three important lessons. The first is that we are stewards of our children—indeed we are stewards of all of God's creation. We have our children "on loan;"they are not really ours, but God's. They are precious in God's sight, and we are responsible to God to do the best we can to nurture and care for them.

Second is to remember that despite the misunderstandings or frank rebellion of God's people, God was always faithful to them. God never abandoned God's chosen people; God did not abandon Jesus to the worldly powers. As parents, we are sometimes tempted to become vindictive and to seek retribution for the misdoings of our children. That is a temptation we need to avoid so that we can emulate to our children the loving and caring attributes of God. Correction of misdoings is
clearly proper and necessary as a parent, but such correctives need to be applied with love and care.

Third, we need to emulate the important God-like quality and listen to our offspring. We need to truly hear them— perhaps changing our all ready made up parental mind. Scripture informs us that the person of God is not static, immovable, and adamant. When God was convinced that the Israelite sojourners under Moses needed to be severely punished, Moses spoke to God, and convinced God to change God's mind (Exodus 32).

Perhaps one way to sum up how we might best incorporate God into our work as parents is to remember that it is our responsibility to honor and respect the dignity of all persons. This is part of our Baptismal covenant. When we honor and respect our children, we will be teaching them the greatest lessons of all. By emulation and example, we will show them how to love God with all their hearts, and with all their souls, and with all their minds, and to love their neighbors as themselves.

The Rev. Canon William Stroop, Ph.D.



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