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.”
- Grace: Tell your child that they are enough for you even with all their flaws.
- Attachment: Practice one-on-one time and undivided attention with your child
- Intimacy: Discuss your child’s interests to understand their perceptions and desires.
- Forgiveness: Acknowledge when you hurt your child and ask forgiveness
- Warmth and Care: Make eye contact and smile at your child everyday
- 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?
- 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?
- Think about your friends and other peers. How do you think their fathers have influenced their understanding of God-for good or bad?
- 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?