I interviewed a man whose parents understood the need to tailor their spiritual conversations to each of their children. He was able to offer this perspective:

653653_24804970 girls in treeI am adopted and so are my brother and sister. Our values seem remarkably similar. We are always going to take the kitten out of the storm. That is what our parents taught us to do.

But we don’t otherwise parrot our parents and we don’t much resemble each other. This has led me to favor a theory of human nature wherein we are bestowed a core personality type. You could say this is largely through genetic make-up or perhaps you could call it the soulish essence of a person.

Environment may pinch or stretch or permanently stain us but our essential traits are immutable.

946931_70192391 girl prayingThese essential traits show up, for example, in a child who likes routine.

In her spiritual development, this child will resonate with scheduled times for prayer, inspirational readings in the same favorite location every day, or regular attendance at religious services.

Another more free-spirited child will find this style constraining…

707316_66266702 riskand boring and “something I have to do.” So we approach this child about talking to God wherever, whenever, spontaneously. When you are out doing active things and you feel God’s presence, say a prayer of gratitude. When you get yourself into a precarious situation, call on God’s help. In these ways you help them connect with God in different ways that align with their personality.

Adults who take a truly holistic view of children often feel a responsibility to attend to their spiritual need to connect with God just as much as to the physical, emotional and social need to form relationships with other people.

They realize it doesn’t make sense to enforce one style, one method, or only the approach that works for them.


A child’s core personality guides caregivers in how to discuss spirituality. Click to Tweet