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A s a parent I have many roles; at times when me and my eldest daughter are having fun together she will tell me that I am her best friend which is of course lovely to hear and very heart warming but this is not the case. She bases her friendships on whether or not they bring her joy, happiness and fun – which is not unlike most 6 year olds. However I can not be all those things for her all the time – I can be a friend; show her what it means to be a friend in the fun times and in the hard times but being her friend can not be my permanent relationship with her because some times being a mum means I have to stop being a friend.

For example it is highly likely that roughly 15 minutes after these lovely heart warming and enjoyable moments she will then begin to inform me that I am the meanest mummy in the world (probably because I said ‘No’ to something she wanted me to say ‘Yes’ to!) I could have remained her best friend and said yes but the likelihood was that I said no for a good reason.

As a mum I can; and need to be many things to my daughters – not to confuse them or be cruel but to help them build up into the best possible version of themselves. Sometimes this varies from:
Their provider
Their protector
Their friend
Their teacher
Their ‘life coach’
Their cheerleader
Their nutritionist
Their doctor
and many other things.The problem is I cannot demonstrate all of these things or perform all of these roles at the same time. Sometimes to be a protector I have to stop being their ‘friend’; or to be a teacher I may have to stop being their protector – there are times when to learn something new means to place them in a position of risk. Sometimes I have to stop being their teacher and become their life coach – guiding them but not telling them. The balance of this is so hard – sometimes I can step into disciplinarian too fast or at times not fast enough.
My eldest daughter once wanted to learn how to do the monkey bars at the local play park but was anxious about falling. I knew that for her to learn how to do it she was likely to fall several times before she managed it; I had to drop my protective mother instinct and let her try while I stood by for encouragement and guidance. It’s never easy seeing our children hurt or upset but at times there is an importance in allowing them to go through these times; firstly it helps them learn how to emotionally respond to things – when they fall and get hurt it is ok to cry but not to get angry. Secondly it helps build a level of resilience – it demonstrates that pain although not nice is only temporary and you can always get back up and try again.

While I was thinking of these different aspects of my parenting the other day I came to realise that God too is our father – He has the multiple roles when caring for us.So many times we can become angry towards God; a God who all he wants to do he love us; care for us and give the best to us. As a father He has love for us that outweighs our own love for our children by the hundreds and thousands. I understand that God does not have the limitations I have of only being able to perform one role at a time but don’t forget sometimes we need that limitation for ourselves. Sometimes my heavenly father needs to be my protector but other times it’s important that he takes a step back and becomes my life coach – guiding me gently but not smothering me. We often jump to the conclusion that God doesn’t love us because He’s allowed something bad to happen to us – what a childish response.I make decisions for my girls because I have a slightly bigger, broader picture of life than they do; if they had their way their days would be filled with playing on tablets; eating hundreds of sweets and crisps and never getting dressed or cleaning their teeth – this childish idea would maybe be ok for them for a week but months and years of this would soon have hugely concerning effects for them. I have to make the decision based on my knowledge of health to turn round and say ‘no’ or take something away – to them it’s the worst possible thing I could do to them right there in that moment but it’s true when they say ‘you’ll thank me when you’re older’! So if I can make those decisions based on my limited knowledge then how much greater will God’s decisions be for our lives? Have you ever blamed God for removing something from your life or taking you away from something or someone? These are never easy things to deal with and just like with my children the natural response is to be angry to the one you see as responsible – most often or not it’s God.By all means be angry – God’s pretty big he can handle it – but don’t remain in a place of anger begin to see the ways in which your life may be blessed or become a blessing through the hardship.

Look at your life and see the ways in which your heavenly father has shown you love in each of his many ‘parental roles’.
He has been your protector
He has been your friend
He has been your provider
He has been your life coach
He has been your teacher
He has been your cheer leader
He has been your loving father from the moment you were knitted together in your mother’s womb!