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I don't have all the answers -- but God does

    I got the messages at my office a couple hours too late that Friday afternoon. From a high school friend's cell phone, my sophomore daughter asked, "Mom, can I go with some friends to the mall?" Then a second message from home. "Well, I couldn't get through to you, so I didn't go."

    Back then, when I worked away from home, our family had a standing rule that the kids couldn't go anywhere without clearing it with Mom first. But now, my daughter had missed out on something she would've enjoyed just because she couldn't get through to me in time. Maybe it was time to take stock.

    In our single-parent family, my word was law�and I don't like surprises. So whenever my daughter wanted to do something, she had to run it by me. I didn't want her in cars with drivers I didn't know. I didn't want her going to Websites I wasn't familiar with. I didn't want her reading books, watching movies, channel surfing, doing anything, really, unless I'd been there first and vetted it.

    I suppose you could call me strict. For many reasons, both my kids have been proud of that, because they can see it shows how much I care about them. Also, because I explained the reasons behind my rules, this approach helped them gain some savvy about the adult world. But there have been many times when a rule would cramp my daughter's style or she got into trouble for going ahead and doing something anyway�without my permission. Now, with her missed trip to the mall, I began to see that she deserved better than either of those outcomes.

    That afternoon, it occurred to me that my rules were based on the assumption that I knew better than my daughter what was right for her. This worked well enough when she was younger. But now that she was moving through adolescence, did it still make sense?

    I've also based my child rearing on another assumption, which to me is absolute truth. It's the idea that every individual is created not by human parents, but by the divine Parent. I believe all people have their origin in Spirit, divine Life, and since Spirit is perfect, whatever it originates is perfect, as well. As a human parent, it's my job to witness the emergence and growth of Spirit's children�not form them myself. (My concept of Spirit is one I've learned from reading Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.)

    So how did this fundamental truth jibe with the assumption that I knew better than she did? The answer is, it didn't. My daughter has a spiritual connection with her divine Parent that supersedes my influence over her. In terms of the spiritual facts, I'm outranked. I'm not the one with all the answers. Spirit is. And she can hear divine direction just as clearly as I can.

    This was a stunning discovery for me. Sure, my darling daughter needed my guidance, but did she need me to do her thinking for her? Actually, no. What she needed now was for me to acknowledge her own foundational relationship with the divine Father-Mother and trust her ability to listen to its direction.

    I also realized that this particular child already had a lot of experience in turning to the Father-Mother when she needed help. She had taken to spiritual ideas from her earliest years, including the idea that her divine Parent is right there with her all the time even when I couldn't be. Time and again she had shown her ability to rely on this Presence for guidance or help in getting out of a tough spot. In fact, the very daughter who needed my permission to go to the mall was so comfortable in her relationship with Spirit that she freely shared the inspiration that came out of it with many of her friends at high school whenever they needed encouragement.

    Maybe it was time to back off a little. After all, if my rules were no longer keeping her safe but were instead inhibiting her development, the rules were no longer helpful. So I had to start letting them go.

    And one by one, I did, starting that afternoon. Rather than laying down the law whenever a question came up, I began to ask my daughter to help me reevaluate our family policies together. Although some rules would always be nonnegotiable, others could be reshaped into something more age appropriate. Still others could be dropped altogether. My daughter and I started working more as a team. Surprise�this new approach allowed me to see her decision-making skills develop right before my eyes.

    Since then, my daughter has indeed shown her ability to make appropriate choices. She took the reins a few years later in deciding which college to go to, what major to focus on, even how to finance it. She doesn't always do what I would've done, but she does what's right for her.

    And I've been treated to books, movies, Websites, and new friends that I never would have found on my own. She shares her discoveries with me, and my own world has grown wider. With both of us listening spiritually, our relationship is evolving naturally into a lifelong friendship blessed by our common Father-Mother�for I�m just a child, too.

    � Laura Matthews

    Laura is a spiritual healer and writer located in Framingham, Massachusetts. Read her daily inspirational Weblog at www.lbmatthews.com