Help (and Hope) for Parents

Dear Dr. Tom: Is there a Unity principle about parenting teenagers? Some days, I am filled with pride, joy, and love. Then the drama reoccurs, and I want to run away and join the circus. You’re a doctor of ministry (not medical, I know), but can you prescribe a curative affirmation or two for the parenting blues, something to set my teens’ feet on their right and proper path, whatever it may be?—Wit’s End Mom, Midwest

DEAR WIT’S END: A lot of heads (mine included) are nodding with recognition as they read your question. True, there must be plenty of young people out there who genuinely appreciate everything their parents have done for them and gladly receive advice from their elders. But I’ve never met one. Most kids struggle through the sunshine and storm clouds of adolescence while feeling like their parents just don’t get it. Sorry—the truth is, you can’t fix them. As the poet Kahlil Gibran wrote in “The Prophet”:

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

Give them your best example, surround them with affirmations for wisdom, protection, and divine order, and do the hardest action a parent must do—bless and release them to find their way, just as we did.

Life on Other Worlds

Dear Dr. Tom: I understand you write science fiction, which means you believe there is life on other worlds. Two questions, please. First, doesn’t the idea of life elsewhere, especially intelligent life, contradict the Bible’s view about man being made in God’s image and the earth as His special creation, where the act of salvation was to be played out? Second, suppose we attempt to reach “other earths” out there—which current science says we cannot do, because it requires faster-than-light travel, a scientific impossibility. Won’t this impossible task drain vast amounts of money away from needed improvements here, like halting climate change, reducing poverty, and ending disease? What can we gain out there?—Faith-Based Skeptic, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

DEAR OK SKEPTIC: All good questions! Yes, I write sci-fi, and I’ve published more than a dozen books so far. And yes, while I’m skeptical about UFOs and little green men, I totally believe there is intelligent life out there in the starry expanse, and the destiny of humanity is migration into the galaxy. What can we gain? Discovering just one Earth-type world will open vast horizons for our species. How will we get there? I trust those few scientists who think it’s possible to figure that out eventually.

Now, about God choosing Earth as Her special garden? Let me offer a grander vision. The multiverse is an expression of God’s dynamic energy, and every sentient being—human or alien—is made in the image and likeness of God, in whatever form we have evolved. Salvation isn’t a one-time act on a rather minor planet in the Orion Arm of our galaxy—it is the ongoing, eternal unfoldment of our divine nature in its many splendid ways. The Word made fresh; the story never ends.

Identifying with Ancestry

Dear Dr. Tom: I recently discovered that I’m a descendant of Scottish highlanders. Someone told me your family background is Pennsylvania Dutch (German). Unity Worldwide Ministries’ vision statement affirms, “A world powerfully transformed through the growing movement of shared spiritual awakening.” Does identifying with my ancestry make it harder to hold that world-embracing vision?—Wondering Scotsman

DEAR WS: Nope. I totally believe in both world unity and affirming one’s roots. After all, that world we seek to transform came from somewhere. Here’s a coincidence we share: My family is Pennsylvania Dutch, but I also have ancestors from Scotland. I’m actually a card-carrying member of the Clan MacLaren Society. So, dinna fash, laddie. Wear your Scottish tartan and march for the oneness of humanity.

This article appeared in Unity Magazine®.

About the Author

Rev. Thomas W. Shepherd, D.Min., former professor of theology and church history at Unity Institute® and Seminary, is the author of many Unity books. Send questions to [email protected].


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