A parent’s role as spiritual ambassador—the embodied guide on the ground introducing a child to the spiritually attuned life—is especially important for the teen who struggles with developmental depression. As we saw earlier, research has found that from early childhood, a child’s relationship with God or a universal spirit is imbued with the attributes of their parents. Through adolescence, as well, to the degree that parents are unconditionally loving and accepting, teens perceive God or their higher power to be so. Studies show that parents’ unconditional love supports their teen’s sense of a higher power that “I can turn to in times of difficulty,” one who gives direction and offers guidance.
Miller, Dr. Lisa. The Spiritual Child (p. 290). St. Martin's Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
The idea that the parent is a spiritual ambassador for a child is a powerful one. The parent is the conduit of God’s unconditional love. This does not mean that the parent does not correct, discipline, and guide but that this correction and discipline is done in a loving way, what can be called “tough love” which gets translated into the words, “I care enough about you to help you behave yourself.”
Sin and guilt are not helpful concepts but mistakes and learning are.
In Unitarian Universalism, people covenant together to affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. The parent becomes the model for this search for the child and gently asks the child to reflect on their own functioning by saying in so many words, “How is that working for you?” God wants what is best for us and gives us free will, but sometimes our willfulness causes problems for us and the ability to reflect on the consequences of our choices leads to greater self awareness and is a path to an increased sense of what is holy.
Who should know the child better than the parent? Who should better have the child’s best interests at heart? Who best to be the ambassador and conduit of God’s love for the child?