Parents as gods

Being a parent is hard work. Being a dad has its own unique challenges. I have no doubt that it will be one of my greatest challenges.

Two of my favorite quotes, one about being a mother and the other of being a father, come from quite unlikely sources, two different satires: Fight Club and Vanity Fair.

“Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children…” – Vanity Fair 

He says, “What you have to understand, is your father was your model for God.”…The mechanic says, “If you’re male and you’re Christian and living in America, your father is your model for God. And if you never know your father, if your father bails out or dies or is never at home, what do you believe about God?” “What you end up doing,” the mechanic says, “is you spend your life searching for a father and God.” “What you have to consider,” he says, “is the possibility that God doesn’t like you. Could be, God hates us. This is not the worst thing that can happen.” How Tyler saw it was that getting God’s attention for being bad was better than getting no attention at all. Maybe because God’s hate better than His indifference. If you could be either God’s worst enemy or nothing, which would you choose? – Fight Club 

For the Christian, the parents are the models for God. Many people spend their whole lives unlearning the image of God they constructed in their youth based on their parents.

I think Christians have to face the facts presented in the two fictional quotes above and recognize two things:

  1. Children, whether you want them to or not, see adults as godlike beings. So it’s important to model all the virtues appertaining to this de facto perception.
  2. Now, just because children perceive us this way does not mean that we should not be very clear to them that we are reasonable, fallible, sinful, and still in need of learning.

Obviously these two inferences can be applied at the same time and at other times one must be emphasized. Leonard Sax has argued that one of the biggest problems in modern parenting is treating children like adults too early. But children should see their parents as goals to which one might attain.

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