A child is first introduced to the concept of authority by his parents. They are the first ones to enforce discipline in a child’s life. Later, when the child learns about God, he transfers his previous experiential knowledge regarding authority to his relationship with his Creator. In essence, a child’s service of God mirrors his relationship with his parents. Therefore, the child raised by overly strict parents will view God as a strict JUDGE while one trained by loving parents will perceive God as a compassionate FATHER.
Parents exemplifying family harmony teach the child that the parents are united together with one message. While parenting methods differ from time to time, still the parents live in harmony. The child learns the message that his parents have one voice, even when their opinions differ. The child then translates this message subconsciously to his relationship with God. The child learns that while we perceive many different character traits of God, there is only One Divine Will, one standard of behavior. In contrast, when parents disagree, the child observes two conflicting wills and may not internalize God’s Supreme Oneness.
It has been identified that there is a vast difference between a child nurtured in a home of harmony as opposed to a child raised in an environment of discord.
When a child is nurtured in a loving, harmonious environment, he thrives. When he sees his parents respect each other, he perceives them as respectable people. Then, the child can respect his parents and their values. He will grow and blossom emotionally, spiritually, and socially. He is truly fortunate.
In contrast, when a child is not blessed with parents who model a good relationship, the child suffers. A strife-filled home is a destructive environment. The child lives in a tense state, not knowing when the next eruption of arguments will take place, The pain ensued from all this can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Some children will act out; some will act in, withdrawing into themselves, taking the blame for this tumultous life and closing themselves up to the world around them. When parents fight, it is disconcerting and frightening to the child. He loses his security and feels vulnerable and confused. The child also learns to play one parent against the other. The child may deviate from family values and spiral downwards to moral decay. This painful experience may impel him to lose respect for his parents, take revenge by causing the parents pain, or even rebelling against them. This child revolts against both parents, because a hurting child holds both parents accountable for his pain.
The good news is that when parents recognize the magnitude of the message they are imparting to their children, they can change the situation for the better. With proper guidance, we can all give our children the gift of one harmonious message.