Question: Dr. Dobson, the concept of who God is has always been difficult for me to comprehend. I'm still not sure I understand Him as I should. How can my children possibly grasp who He really is?
Answer: Remember that Jesus said, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). The best way to introduce our children to the character of God, therefore, is by introducing them to the person of Jesus. Even preschool kids can understand the imagery of Him given in the Gospels. Not only are children capable of comprehending things of the spirit, but Jesus said, "Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it" (Luke 18:17, italics added). They are inherently better at understanding it than are their elders.
The second way children learn about God is from what they see in Mom and Dad. It is a well-known fact that kids identify their parents—and especially their fathers—with God. That makes us grown-ups uncomfortable, of course, because we are aware of our imperfections and shortcomings. Nevertheless, we have been given the awesome responsibility of representing God to our vulnerable little children. The mistakes we make are often translated into spiritual problems for the next generation. For example, it is tough for the sons and daughters of oppressive or abusive parents to perceive God as being loving and compassionate. Likewise, permissive parents make it hard for children to understand the justice of God.
One of our most difficult tasks as mothers and fathers is to represent these two aspects of God's nature, His love and His justice, to our kids. To show our little ones love without authority is as serious a distortion of God's nature as to reveal an iron-fisted authority without love.
If you put your mind and heart to it, I believe you can give your children the understanding they need. You might even get a better grasp of God's nature in the process of conveying it to your kids.
From Dr. Dobson's book Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide.