Do Christmas with a different attitude

Christmas attitudeChristmas. The late journalist Harry Reasoner called it a “tremendous burst of gift buying, parties and near hysteria [done in the name of] a quiet event that Christians believe happened a long time ago.” Let’s be people who show kids how to do December with a different attitude.

Attitude #1: Be gracious

 If you are a non-Christian — Accept Christmas graciously.

Maybe you have personal history of your deeply held, non-Christian perspective/faith being trampled on by the majority. Perhaps they’ve been insensitive to you since childhood, but you can aim high and wish your fellow citizens all the joys to which their beliefs entitle them.

If you are a Christian —  Accept unbelief graciously.

Christmas attitudesSome Christians feel such a dramatic shock in their heart when others find the birth of Jesus to be irrelevant. You can become angry and lose the capacity to promote peace. Different people have different beliefs and you really can’t expect that everyone should share yours. Aim high and remember that different perspectives are okay.

Attitude #2: Remain composed

If you are a non-Christian —  Accept Christmas respectfully.

The Christmas story has a magnificent appeal, Jesus coming as a baby to show what God is like. Most people like babies–if God wanted to be loved, God moved correctly here. If God wanted to be intimate with humankind, God moved correctly, for the experiences of birth and familyhood are among the most intimate and precious experiences.* It just might be easier to remain composed when you focus on this perspective.

If you are a Christian — Accept unbelief respectfully.

The whole story that a virgin was selected by God to bear God’s son as a way of showing love and concern for humanity is not an idea that has been popular, even with some theologians. Remain composed by admitting that it is a somewhat illogical idea and God does not, and you ought not, force anyone to accept it. Instead, focus on loving people as Jesus did.

 Attitude #3: Cultivate and feed goodwill

How?  A lesson in these excerpts from the poem Anyway by Dr. Kent M. Keith

  • People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered. Forgive them anyway.
  • If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
  • The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.

*I’m paraphrasing Harry Reasoner here.

Tweetable: Goodbye Christmas hysteria. Show kids how to do December with a different attitude. Click to Tweet
 


My new book, Child-centered Spirituality: Helping children develop their own spirituality, is now available on Amazon – just in time for the holidays!

Where did Grandma go when she died?

Why doesn’t God stop bad things from happening?

Many parents have experienced a child asking difficult spiritual questions– usually at inopportune moments. While we stumble around trying to think of an answer, we feel inadequate… and sometimes startled by their questions. If you’re like most adults, you try your hardest to avoid thinking much about questions like these. So why on earth is a child asking you about them?

We talk with our children about the importance of school work, about physical health, about how to navigate social difficulties. We even talk with them about sex, drugs, and internet safety… or if we don’t, we know we should.

So why do we find it so difficult to talk with children about God?

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, foster parent, or other caregiver, this is a book to help you engage with the children in your life about their spiritual needs.

Purchase your copy in paperback here.

If you prefer the Kindle version, you can purchase it here.

Change the way kids see generosity

Would you like to prepare the children you love to have a lifelong habit of generosity? How’s it going?  Most of us believe in giving our money, time and talent to others but are looking for fresh ways to change that belief into action.

1) Share the joy you derive from giving.

generosity to thrift storeTalk about your giving experiences with them. Celebrate when things go well. Share the lessons you learn when things don’t turn out as you’d hoped. Start young to include them in your charitable efforts (as simple as having them in the car when you drop off donations to a thrift store). Be careful how you talk about their school’s fund-raising appeals. You’re teaching them how to react when a need is presented.

2) Find them a hero or mentor.

generosity in a sports heroIn whatever areas interest the child, you will find generous heroes (sports, music, etc). Sarah Trzepacz suggests asking the children’s librarian for titles featuring current and historical heroes “to infuse children with new ideas and renewed energy.” Find a generous hero or mentor among your trusted family friends or neighbors who might introduce new ideas and renewed energy into family projects.

3) High schools often require volunteering in order to graduate.

Sarah Trzepacz observed, “A teen who once enjoyed annual family outings to plant trees in a neighborhood park or sort canned goods at a local food bank may suddenly balk at spending their Saturday afternoon with family members. They may be letting you know they are ready to doing some giving independently from you.” How convenient that many high schools encourage this. Sit down with teens and find out what causes they are passionate about if you can’t already tell by their outside interests or the posters on their bedroom walls. Then if they never invite you to be involved in any way, do whatever you can to say yes and support them, without giving any ideas of your own.

4) Change the way children see generosity.

generosity and instant replay“Sports Illustrated cited instant replay as one of sports’ ’20 great tipping points’ of the previous 50 years and wrote of instant replay’s impact, ‘The revolutionary premise was that sports could be improved not by changing the games but by changing the way they were packaged.’” (Chris Erskine in the Los Angeles Times, 1-19-15)

Of the options mentioned above, which one stands out to you for its potential to change the way generosity is packaged in your family?

Tweetable: If your goal is to raise generous young adults, a couple of examples here might spark your new idea. Click to Tweet

 


 
My new book, Child-centered Spirituality: Helping children develop their own spirituality, is scheduled to be released on November 15th – just in time for the holidays!

Where did Grandma go when she died?

Why doesn’t God stop bad things from happening?

Many parents have experienced a child asking difficult spiritual questions– usually at inopportune moments. While we stumble around trying to think of an answer, we feel inadequate… and sometimes startled by their questions. If you’re like most adults, you try your hardest to avoid thinking much about questions like these. So why on earth is a child asking you about them?

We talk with our children about the importance of school work, about physical health, about how to navigate social difficulties. We even talk with them about sex, drugs, and internet safety… or if we don’t, we know we should.

So why do we find it so difficult to talk with children about God?

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, foster parent, or other caregiver, this is a book to help you engage with the children in your life about their spiritual needs.

Enter your email below to be notified when our book is available for purchase!

* indicates required




A compassionate heart: is the cost really worth it?

compassionate heart“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”   –C.S. Lewis

Authors Charles R. Ridley and Robert E. Logan inspired me to reflect on the push-pull of desiring to cultivate compassion in children while simultaneously shielding them from emotional pain. If we want to invest in the development of a child’s compassionate heart, there are costs involved. We decide for ourselves whether the cost is worth it.

Cost—A child’s awareness of emotional pain

compassionate heart girlWhen a family is touched by disappointment or loss, isn’t our natural inclination to run, to find a way to protect ourselves and our children? “To care—at a deep and authentic level of our spirits—opens us up to pain,” says Ridley.  Certainly we monitor how many details the child knows. We also stay emotionally connected with them through their discomfort as they find composure in the knowledge that they need not fear emotional pain.

Cost—A child’s feelings of inadequacy

When children recognize that hardships have entered life—their life or someone else’s—they learn that they are not able to fix it or change it. We’re tempted to step in and pump them up with positive affirmations because we want them be confident and happy.  Yet to develop a compassionate heart we must leave children with their feelings of being powerless. We come alongside them to help them form their own healthy way of handling these feelings.

Cost—An adult’s mandate to show compassion in action

We are busy people. “Still, we realize that kids learn from what we do more than from what we say. So we stop what we’re doing and tend to a person who needs help especially when it is not convenient to do so,” noted Signe Whitson. “We hold ourselves back before speaking in a frustrating interpersonal interaction. This is costly when we are tired and swamped by many responsibilities.”

Tweetable: If we want to invest in the development of a child’s compassionate heart, there are costs. See more here. Click to Tweet

Childhood spiritual styles: Enthusiastic Style

The different ways children experience God can be called their spiritual style. With their mind and heart they form a positive relationship with God in the best, most natural way for each of them.

Many styles within the same spiritual tradition

Typically you and the children in your life share a family spiritual tradition but we do not necessarily live out our faith or our ethics in the same ways.   Adults will be more effective in helping children make their own discoveries about God and life when we understand their natural impulses (and our own).

The Enthusiastic Style: The child celebrates the power and presence of God through excitement.

Note the items that apply to children in your life to determine whether they posses an enthusiastic style of spirituality.

  1. For this child, being excited about God is an important aspect of faith.
  2. The God of this child’s understanding is a God of action.
  3. It is important to the child to experience coincidences where he believes God is alive and active in the world.
  4. The child doesn’t want to be bored.
  5. The child desires to join in on God’s work in the world.
  6. It is important for the child to feel the presence of God.
  7. The child likes to pray for things we would call miracles.

Discovery questions for enthusiastic children

  • Where did you find yourself laughing, crying, joyful or inspired by something God did?
  • What needs do you see that you’d jump at the chance to meet?
  • What have you done in your life that you’d love to do more of?
  • What experiences do you want to have in your lifetime? How do they relate to God?
  • What do you see God is doing all around you?
  • Where did you feel God’s powerful presence in a situation?

Adapted from The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality, by Christian A. Schwarz.

Tweetable:  Enthusiastic children feel God’s power and presence even when we do not, so don’t discourage them. Click to Tweet

 

Childhood spiritual styles: Sharing Style

Has anyone ever asked you about your personal spiritual style? Has anyone ever offered to support you in exactly that area, the area of your strongest receptiveness for the divine? Or has it been your experience that most [people] are so focused on their own approach to God that they believe it is the right one, or at least the best one, for everyone else?

Researcher Christian Schwarz posed these questions as he explained why he considers his study identifying spiritual styles to be important in understanding how both adults and children seek and find God. In recent posts, we discussed Sensory, Rational and Bold Idealistic styles. Here we add another.

sharing by helping my sisterThe Sharing Style: A child passes on the grace of God through service.

Note the statements that apply to children in your life to help identify whether they may possess a sharing style of spirituality.

  1. The child strongly senses God’s presence whenever they show grace and forgiveness to others.
  2. Often the child’s prayers are for people who aren’t experiencing love from other people and/or God.
  3. The child is drawn to service projects and other ways to share with others.
  4. The child notices and comments when people do random acts of kindness in everyday life.
  5. The child expresses a desire to respond to the hurts and needs of people.
  6. The child looks for ways to include everyone.
  7. You can see the child’s faith grow when he experiences God in his interactions with people.

Discovery questions for sharing children:

If you can identify four or more of the statements above you can probably recall several times when the child connected with God through sharing.

young child is sharing by helpingThe following questions may be useful as you seek to strengthen the area of their strongest receptiveness for the divine.

  • How did you experience God by giving?
  • How did you see God in other people’s kind actions?
  • What does this show you about God?
  • How were you feeling when someone shared with you?
  • How does that connect with who God is?
  • When were you able to forgive someone who wronged you?

Coming up: The Enthusiastic style

Adapted from The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality, by Christian A. Schwarz.

Tweetable: A child’s spiritual style is important in understanding how they seek and find God. More here. Click to Tweet

Childhood spiritual styles: Bold Idealistic Style

A child’s spiritual style is not the same as personality or character. Rather, it describes the way the child most naturally connects with God. Our aim here is to give adults some tools for leading children to discover and experience further growth in their faith in a way that connects to them most effectively.

Previously we discussed sensory style and rational style. Now we look at a third way children express their individual style.

bold idealistic kids seek truthThe Bold Idealistic Style:  A child thinks correctly about God through doctrines and truth.

Note the items below that apply to the children in your life to assess their inclination toward this style. .

  1. A theological system that reflects God’s truth helps the child in her spirituality.
  2. The child possesses unwavering belief that this theological system is correct.
  3. The accuracy of the child’s beliefs is of utmost importance.
  4. The child demonstrates a strong sense of justice.
  5. It is important to the child that his faith does not depend on emotion.
  6. The child feels close to God when she takes a stand for a cause even at great personal expense.

Discovery questions for bold idealistic children

bold idealistic kids need sacred writingsIf you notice four or more of the above characteristics, the child probably has a natural pattern of taking unwavering stands for his or her convictions. The following questions may be useful as you seek to help children mature in their style.

  • How did you express your beliefs and convictions today?
  • What attitude did you have?
  • When is your anger triggered by an injustice?
  • What kind of courage will you need to stand up for truth and justice?
  • How do you defend the needs, worth and convictions of a person, an animal or a cause?

Adapted from Christian A. Schwarz, The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality.

Tweetable: Children with strong convictions can see their bold idealism influence even spiritual beliefs. Click to Tweet