SOME YEARS AGO, I visited a young mother and her new baby. I asked her what she was finding most different with this change in her life. Very softly, she said: "I never thought I could love anyone so much!" I remember thinking: "And that will never change."
Of course, babies grow into toddlers, toddlers grow into teenagers, teenagers grow into adults, and, while mother/father love doesn't change, our children do. Inevitably the demands on parents change—corresponding to the needs of growing children. Even when my own children left home, I found that my parenting continued, albeit differently from their baby days. Confronting the challenges of life in the "real world," my kids often checked in with my husband and me for comfort, ideas, love. No matter how old they get, we are still their parents.
The Bible and Mary Baker Eddy's book Science and Health supported me in learning how to play this role. When one of my children was in trouble, I got some clues from the father Jesus described in his parable of the prodigal son. The son had taken off with all the money his father had given him and had taken up a less than admirable lifestyle. The parable doesn't tell us whether or not the father knew that his son had been leading an "undisciplined and dissipated" life, but it does tell us how he felt when his son returned home: "When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him." He immediately planned a "wonderful time" to celebrate his son's return. See Luke 15:11-32 (Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © by Eugene H. Peterson, 1993, 1994, 1995. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group).