Communicating God As Father to children

By | June 16, 2011

From Living with Teenagers magazine by Shera Thiele

“Though there is no adequate way to compare God, our heavenly Father, to our earthly dads, there is biblical evidence that God as Father signifies a close relationship of security, warmth, grace, and attachment. Biblical scholars, in their transliteration of “abba,” find significance in looking at the intimate relationship between God and His Son, Jesus. This model helps us understood not only who God is, but also who men were created to be as earthly fathers”

“Research had identified several key factors related to the importance of father-child relationships in God image development:

  • Fathers who want their children to see God as nurturing should identify way to express nurture and tenderness in their relationship with their child.
  • Children who perceive their parents as punishing and judging-with low level of nurture-tend to maintain an image of God as punishing and judging
  • Fathers who don’t want to be seen as hostile, indifferent, or rejecting are less likely to see God as present and accepting
  • Communicating warmth in relationship with your child in highly related to your child understanding God as a stable presence, an accpeting diety, and a challenging higher power
  • Demonstrating care in the father-teen relationship is a rich predictor of certain characteristics in an adolescent’s God image.

Relational experiences that occur during the developmental stages of of childhood and adolescence leave indelible marks in our stories. What do you remember about your relationship with your own father? Evaluating how you related to your own father will help you develop compassion, understanding, and empathy for the way your teen relates with you. It’s not too late to influence the development of your teen’s God image.”

Practicals:

  1. Grace: Tell your child that they are enough for you even with all their flaws.
  2. Attachment: Practice one-on-one time and undivided attention with your child
  3. Intimacy: Discuss your child’s interests to understand their perceptions and desires.
  4. Forgiveness: Acknowledge when you hurt your child and ask forgiveness
  5. Warmth and Care: Make eye contact and smile at your child everyday

Discussion starters:

  1. Read 1 Chronicles 17:11-14. What did it mean to the ancient Israelites to see God as their Father? Why is it important for you to know Him as Father?
  2. Read Galatians 4:4-7. Why do you think Paul used the image of adoption to describe our relationship with God? In what was has God adopted us?
  3. Think about your friends and other peers. How do you think their fathers have influenced their understanding of God-for good or bad?
  4. How do you think your understanding of God has been shaped by what you see in my life? What are some areas where you see God in me? What are some areas of my life that seem to contradict what you know about God?

Knowing God & Parenting: Another Blogger’s Perspective

By | June 6, 2011

by Ali Hooper

I love stumbling upon blogs that make me step back and think about the big picture of my life. I Take Joy by Sally Clarkson is one of those blogs. Recently I read her post, Parenting: It all starts with your view of God, and I absolutely love what she wrote.

Two things in particular really stuck with me:

1) Clarkson emphasizes the importance of spending time with God – in His Word – as a foundational element to who we are as parents. She writes, And so, when it comes to child training, if people have not had the opportunity to think Biblically or to study the word of God, and about what God is like, they will look to others for “truth.”
This is an area where I am learning. The Holy Spirit has been teaching me WHY quiet time is important – how it will better my life. It’s not simply a discipline for discipline’s sake. No. Not at all. It’s truly a gift to spend time with God (and I’d argue that it’s a necessity), and by better understanding Him and His Word, I will become a mother who shows Jesus to my children, as opposed to a mother who follows the trends of my surrounding society.

2) I have never been a rule or formula follower when it comes to parenting (or much else in my life). I’ve never read a single parenting book in its entirety, and of the resources I have read or skimmed, there’s always an element here and there that doesn’t jive with me. I love that Clarkson reminds us that as Christians we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and through Him we will have the tools and resources that we need to be Godly parents. Are books helpful? Absolutely! But are they to be followed to a t? Unless it’s the Bible, I think we have to be very careful what we follow religiously.

Clarkson expands on this idea, saying, In the Christian life, even in parenting, God gave us a brain to think, a conscience to nudge our hearts, the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us to guide us. All He asks is that we live by faith in him dependence on Him. And yes, I think through this process, God has given a mom intuition and a mom’s instinct for what is best for her child. God always loves to lead us and work through us by faith in relationship to Him and what He is impressing us to do, within the beautiful design of our femininity and womanhood. That is why it is crucial that we are spending time in His presence and seeking to build a foundation of conviction on scripture and knowledge of God.

I so appreciate Clarkson because she reminded me that through seeking God, I will have all the tools that I need to parent my children. It’s not about a specific method or researched system, it’s about pursuing God in every aspect of my life. As Clarkson puts it, My own parenting of my four very different children was a process of seeking wisdom, studying scripture, listening to God, following other wise people. It was a process of relationship and love with Him, not following the formulas that it seemed most of my peers were following. We went against the grain of the culture we were surrounded by, and yet found the wonderful presence of God in our home as we sought Him.

I pray that as I lean into God, I find His wonderful Presence alive in my home, filling my children with the love that only God can show them. And ultimately filling me with what I need, minute by minute, to guide, protect, encourage and parent my two very different yet equally precious children.

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