Read Romans 8:14-17
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (NLT)
We can generally say it is true that we are all shaped by our early-childhood experiences. Our parents had an enormous influence on our formative years. In fact, some experts reckon that young children see their parents as God-like figures. The ultimate in authority and power.
And how we see our parents as children affects how we see God as adults. We may experience God in similar ways to those which we experienced our parents. If my father was a weak though generally nice man, that may be how I see God. If my father was a harsh tyrant, that will shape my perception of God. If my mother showed me no warmth and was emotionally distant, that might be how I perceive God.
As we grow to greater maturity, we would normally expect these perceptions to be modified. The Holy Spirit is the one who prompts us to see God as our dearest Father. And we presume he wants us to see God as he truly is, not some sort of reflection of our earthly parents. For many Christians, life is an ongoing struggle to clear away the confusion between God and our earthly parents.
God is not the same as my earthly father or mother. My childhood experiences are a reality I cannot avoid, but my thinking and feeling are to be reshaped and refined by the Scriptures which show me what God is really like. And this really does matter. If our perception of God is all wrong, then nothing else in the faith is ever truly right.