What is child-centered spirituality and why is it important? Here’s the short answer and a story from someone who is in the loop with it.

What is child-centered spirituality?

loop of young child's spiritualityIt is listening to and nurturing what is already inside a child’s soul. The way to encourage children’s innate longing for the divine is found in opening yourself up to their world, in asking them questions and answering theirs, in listening. It is about honoring the soul–the sacred space within them.

It’s serving more as guides, or even fellow journeyers, than we do as teachers. It is working on the assumption that spirituality already exists inside the heart of every child, and that God is already at work there. Maybe our role is just to help facilitate and develop what is already resident there.

Why is it important?

Children’s faith in God’s presence with them, in God’s goodness and care for them, can sustain the mental and emotional resiliency they need to live. It can provide perspective on life and death, eternity, guilt, grace, forgiveness.  Children’s inner spiritual anchor can be a safe place to turn when life’s challenges come upon them. Older children will, as we all do, turn to something when they feel overwhelmed. Yesterday’s lead article in my local newspaper was, “Xanax abuse rising at schools.”

In the loop with Jay

father daughter loopI dove into teenage life for all it was worth. My energies and activities, my adventures, risks, and yes–faith meant I found a second home in faith communities independent of my family. I settled easily into the context of a church youth group and a Christian club at school.

My parents practiced child-centered spirituality. They recognized my need for adults outside the family who knew me well and I drank deeply from the water these adults provided. That I went on to become a high school English teacher was a natural extension of all I learned and eagerly wanted to offer others in those pivotal years.

Now with our own children, my wife and I take best practices from our parents and our own experiences that we hope will make a developmentally positive and enduring spiritual difference.

Tweetable: Get in the loop with childhood spirituality. The proven benefits of making peace with God should be encouragement enough to invest time and attention in their holistic development. Click to Tweet