William Makepeace Thackeray once said, “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.” When replacing the name of Mother for God, maybe what Thackeray was saying was that the relationship we as parents have with our children can help them understand their relationship with God. If this is true, then the way we teach our children and the way we interact with them as earthly parents can teach them valuable lessons about their Heavenly Father. Here are six lessons that we should be teaching them.
God is approachable
God is easy to talk to and wants to hear from his children often. This is something we as parents should model for our children. It is important that our children know that they can come to us when they have a problem and we will listen to them — even if their opinion is different from our own. In this way, we teach our children that just as we are willing to counsel with them, so will God be there to listen and share his wisdom.
In our home, my husband and I value our children's opinions and emphasize the importance of personal prayer and finding things out for yourself. On one particular occasion when our oldest son was struggling with a decision we had made. He came to me with his concerns and I explained that it was what we felt God wanted us to do. I asked him to pray and ask God for himself. If he received a different answer then we did, we would talk about it as a family. I have to admit that while he was praying for his answer, I was saying my own prayer that God would not let me down and would answer him.
When my son came out of his room, he had a smile on his face and light in his eyes. He said that God had answered his prayer. While he was on his knees, he felt warmth, as if God's arms were around him telling him it was the right decision and that everything was going to be okay. Both of us learned a valuable lesson that day. My son learned that God is approachable and that he will answer his prayers and be with him in his time of need. I learned that God not only speaks to me, but he speaks to my children, for they are his children too.
God is Love
God loves his children unconditionally, and so should we. The first taste of God’s love a child will receive comes from his parents. When a mother holds her newborn babe to her heart and whispers, “I love you,” or when a father carries his child to bed at night and kisses her on the forehead, a child feels loved and begins to trust. Make sure your home is full of love, your children know God loves them, and they can feel his love through you. In this way your children learn the value of love and never doubt they have it.
It is important children learn God is a fair God. He created all men as equals and he shows no favoritism. Parents can reflect this by not choosing one child over another, and loving all children wholeheartedly. It is also important children understand that for every action, whether good or bad, there is a consequence attached to it. According to the justice of God, good actions generally bring about good consequences and bad actions generally bring about bad consequences. It is necessary that parents implement consequences to poor choices so children learn the value of making good choices. In this way, our children learn obedience is important both in your house and in God’s house.
God is Merciful
Although God is just, he is also merciful and forgiving. This is a very important lesson we as parents can teach our children through our actions. It is important we understand there are times when justice is important, but there are also times when we need to be merciful. We should always be forgiving, even if we must follow through with a punishment. We are not perfect and we should not expect our children to be perfect either. Our children are so forgiving of our mistakes as we learn the role of parenthood and we should give them the same forgiveness as they walk the path of a child — just as God is forgiving of all of us. Our children will learn that just as we are forgiving towards them, God will also be forgiving.
God is Kind
The way we speak to our children can teach them how God communicates with them. God does not yell at his children, and neither should we. His is a soft voice, a calm voice, often a whisper. As we speak to our children in such a voice, even in times of frustration or discipline, our children will learn that we do not allow our emotions to dictate our actions. We can speak to them from a place of peace and love, just as God would if they were to go to him in times of trouble. In addition, we should never physically or emotionally try to harm our child, always disciplining from a place of calm stillness and absolute love for them. Our children will learn the role of a parent, and God, is one of gentle persuasion and not excessive force.
God is our father
As children look to their parents, they will learn much about God who is their heavenly father. Just as a father and mother provide for the needs of their children, so God provides for the needs of his children. Attentive earthly parents are interested in every aspect of their children’s lives. They listen to their concerns, give counsel and encouragement, and make themselves available when their children are in need of help — just as God would do for his children.
Through a parent's relationship with her child, each child knows God’s love through the arms of his earthly parents. In this way, children learn that God is their father, and just like their earthly parents, God wants nothing more than to one day see each child face to face and embrace him in the arms of his love.