All children are born innately spiritual and loving. They are sponges and quickly absorb the nuances in their environment. As tiny, dependent beings they view their parents/caregivers as the living embodiment of God. Hence, we parents, play a very crucial role in our child’s spiritual development
Spirituality A Mystery
Spirituality is a mystery. Some believe that it comes to an individual from grace. Others believe that it arises in this life as a result of spiritual development achieved in a previous life.
Many of the most spiritual adults emerge from the most adverse childhood experiences. In my own case, my parents were materialist-atheists, yet I matured into a deeply spiritual individual. Why does one child grow into a deeply spiritual adult, when his or her sibling turns out very differently, though they were both raised in the same household?
Whatever the reasons, parents can either nurture their child’s spiritual growth or interfere with it.
Supporting Your Child’s Spiritual Growth
We support our children’s spiritual growth by living in accordance with The Golden Rule. This doesn’t mean that we lead perfectly pious lives. However, we must live with self-honesty that forces us to face and acknowledge our transgressions. Beyond this, we then dedicate ourselves to doing better.
Furthermore, if we excuse our own immoral behavior – we confuse our children regarding the values worth living by and the justice they can expect from the universe.
If I lie and steal, even if I preach better conduct to my child, I confuse my child about right from wrong. When push comes to shove, be selfish and deceptive and you will not only get away with it; you will thrive. We teach children that it is practical and necessary to veer off the path of true integrity when we model that.
We support our children’s spiritual growth by relating with our children in ways that help them to trust in the essential love and goodness of their universe. When we mistreat a child with neglect or aggressive abuse of any kind, we teach the child to lack faith in the goodness of himself, of other people and of the universe at large.
Living With Integrity
Part of spirituality is recognizing and abiding by the laws of justice in the universe. Even if a person seems to prosper through cruel, selfish, dishonest actions, that person eventually receives consequences that teach him the error of his ways through suffering.
Therefore, we need to demonstrate for our children our own abiding sense of justice as a guide in our own lives. If the mother tolerates abuse from the father or vice versa, the child learns weak boundaries in relationships and weak boundaries around his own self-conduct.
Spirituality is guided by the internal feeling of sacredness and holiness. This spiritual sensibility is nurtured in a child as the child is exposed to an adult who nurtures that sensibility within herself. Spending time in solemn prayer and meditation, expressing your sacred sense of beautiful nature, art and altruistic deeds nurtures your spirituality and, by extension, nurtures your child’s.
Blocking Your Child’s Spirituality
We block our children’s spirituality when we attempt to impose spirituality upon them, particularly through the use of negative judgmentalism. Criticizing and condemning a child, instilling guilt feelings and the fear of being essentially bad and unworthy, closes the child’s heart and teaches the child to view spirituality as self-punishing, rather than as soul nurturing.
Neither can one instill spirituality by forceful and rigid religious prayers or rituals.
Relating to the child as essentially good, kind, sacred and holy nurtures the child’s spiritual heart and allows the love of spirituality to blossom naturally from her soul.
Joy & Gratitude The Key
Joyousness and aliveness are the hallmarks of true spirituality. When you enjoy your life with an open heart and a free spirit you teach your child to have faith in the essential goodness and sacredness of the universe. As parents, we don’t need to push our kids and drive their lives. We need to love, care, guide, protect, spend time with them and be a good example. But the most precious gift we give our kids is letting them freely live their own truth
Allowing our child to develop and express his/her natural gifts and talents makes them confident to become who they are truly meant to be. Living authentically means living joyously. We are meant to be happy, to enjoy life and to trust in our inspiration. This presents to the child a moral order of the universe, rooted in love.
Focusing on what we feel grateful for, instead of on what there is to complain about, fills our heart with appreciation and a love for life. This teaches our children to recognize and count their infinite blessings.
Being A Role Model
Dedicating ourselves to giving the best we have for the benefit of all teaches our child that the true secret to a happy, successful and fulfilling life. To do our best. The spiritual principle at work here is that the more we give, the more we receive.
Providing a child with an orderly, harmonious home environment is vital for their sense of safety. Home should be a safe sanctuary for all family members.
However, when a child’s environment is chaotic, filled with strife and unhappiness, the child experiences a kind of hell on earth. Their tender sensibilities of spiritual, intuitive guidance get shut down.
Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves
Raising a spiritual child is not a difficult task. All it requires that we parents have good, healthy fun in the way that we live and relate with our child. We need to learn to live mindfully enjoying the present moment,
Pushing ourselves and our kids only make life stressful. What is the use of achieving and acquiring things when we are unable to savor any joy and fun? Living like this shuts down our vitality and hardens our hearts. When we lose our joy we create joyless and unhappy world for our kids, no longer is lif a wondrous sacred gift.
As we practice living and parenting with inner peace, harmony, and joy our own spirits soar, and we support the soaring of our child’s spirit.
Nurturing our child’s spiritual growth also entails our own transformation if we keep an open mind and heart. In raising our children we ultimately raise ourselves to greater spiritual heights.
Bob Lancer works with 7 Mindsets, an innovative parenting program for raising a positive, successful and happy human being. For information about how to bring the 7 Mindsets into your child’s school curriculum, and to learn more about the 7 Mindsets, visit their website. Alternately, check out Bob on his website www.themethodforparenting.com for a complimentary Skype Parenting Coaching session with him.
The Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving by Lisa Miller
Hold on to Your Kids by Gabor Maté & Gordon Neufeld
Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids by Susan Stiffelman
Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka