Updated: Nov 6, 2019
*NEW Blog for Parenting Youth + Teens
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. -1 John 4:16 NLT
We say, "Only God is perfect." However, when we fully comprehend the design for men and women in God's concept of creation, we will understand that perfection is within our grasp. In God's ideal of creation we were designed as temples of God, temples of the spirit of God, where God is master. "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's spirit dwells in you?" -I Corinthians 3:16
We were designed to be God's temples. When we attain this status, we shall cease to possess a will that is corruptible. Boundaries and laws will no longer be necessary, for His will is our will. With His spirit dwelling in us completely we shall move only as He guides us. We shall then be perfect because the force that is guiding and directing us is the perfect force. When we achieve this ultimate goal we are in perfect union with God. We are no longer living on the human level alone, but on the divine level. We take on God's qualities because the Spirit dwells in and possesses us as a perfect temple; we reflect God's virtue and power. Thus we can be as perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect. This was the original pattern which God intended for humankind through Adam and Eve. - Rev. Sun Myung Moon, God’s Warning to the World- Jesus’ Standard of Goodness
Parents around the world universally desire for their children to be happy, healthy, confident and able to make good choices which lead to success in all areas of their lives. From the moment we look into the eyes of our newborn babies, we know deep down that this is our greatest responsibility, whether we feel confident to do so or not. As our children grow we do our best to keep them safe, well-nourished, stimulated and loved; physically, intellectually and emotionally.
Additionally, and possibly most importantly, parents have the privilege to guide our children to knowing who their Heavenly Parent is, to nurture a sense of belonging, secure attachment and confidence in their relationship with God, that God is theirs and that they hold a unique place in God’s heart. This will look different for every family and depends on many factors such as how much the children already innately feel a connection to God, how deep our own relationship and that of our spouse is with God, what traditions our families value and keep in our lives of faith. Wherever we feel we are currently in our journey of faith, exploring our relationships with God and each other will most likely bring up a myriad of thoughts and feelings in us. This is not surprising as what we think about God and what our relationship with our Heavenly Parent looks like informs our views on everything that is truly important in our lives; our identity, relationships with others, what we believe the purpose of life is, our understanding of morality, and where we choose to place our focus and invest our time and efforts. You could say that our family culture depends on what our relationship with God is like.
Thinking back on our own lives, we may have been raised in a family who loved and served God and yet there were challenges which caused our relationship with God to suffer. Some may be at the very beginning of getting to know God and building a relationship with our Creator, while others feel relatively uninhibited to share the love they have for God with their children. Parenting our own children bring the most important topics into focus as we navigate the ups and downs of life, needing to respond to difficult situations and tough questions every child will inevitably ask.
As our children enter adolescence, it becomes particularly important for them to see authenticity and integrity in adults around them. Our growing relationship with God serves as an inspiration to our children, to see us humbled, challenged and strengthened, loved and fulfilled by the ultimate source of unconditional love. Our children yearn to see what fulfilled human potential looks like and to see adults around them genuinely striving to be their best selves can only serve as an example to them.
How then do we guide our children in their spiritual growth, in knowing our Heavenly Parent and in giving and receiving love with God? The answer, of course, is in first investing in our own growth in this area, in nourishing our own spirituality, our connection with the Divine within us and without. As we do this we will be in a much better position to love ourselves, our spouse and children the way God does and wants us to. Our growth and development is a living testimony to the awesome love of our Creator and connects us to each other in bonds of true love. Having a living and breathing relationship with God sharpens our conscience and awareness of what is right and what is wrong, even and especially when situations are ambiguous.
In parenting our children we face making many decisions for our children, then gradually include them and finally trust them to make decisions for themselves. We model an authentic life of faith to our children and guide them to discover their own, unique way of relating with their Heavenly Parent. As they grow, we encourage them to create healthy habits that will build their life of faith, such as talking naturally and frequently with God, studying His Word, reflecting on their life and setting goals which help them to live with more purpose.
Knowing and feeling God’s viewpoint and heart places us and our children in a stronger, more confident position to make difficult decisions, especially when those decisions are counter-cultural. No matter what the situation, with our hearts and minds in tune with God’s, we can surmount any challenge and not lose ourselves along the way. Most importantly, we fulfill the very purpose for which the entire Universe exists - so that God can hold us as his dearest creation and we find our deepest meaning and joy in sharing in a personal relationship with our Heavenly Parent.
Thank God for being able to be a Parent, to have this awesome and growing experience of building our family which is part of His cosmic family.
Come closer to God within myself and be able to demonstrate living God’s principles to my children.
Be a channel of God’s love to my children. Ask God how He wants me to guide the children He has placed in my care.
PRAYER TIME - Set aside time daily or weekly for family prayer and study. Experiment with different styles and ways of doing this. Find the best time for your family and use a variety of scripture study and character education materials.
NATURE - Spend as much time in nature as possible to be inspired by its beauty and provide space for contemplation and heightened awareness of our mind, body and spirit self.
HONESTY - Be honest with your children about the ups and downs you have experienced in your walk with God thus far. Testify to the times you have had close experiences with God.
RELATIONSHIP - Spend one-on-one time with your child. Go on a dessert date and discuss topics on God and what is on their heart and mind. Let them know how unconditionally they are loved and cherished by God.
RESOURCES with clickable links
Spiritual Style Quiz by Focus on the Family
The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Dr. Kara. E Powell
The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman
PREPARING FOR THE CONVERSATION WITH YOUR YOUTH/TEEN: