“During my marriage, my ex and I discussed taking our kids to various houses of worship. They were curious about—envious of?—their churchgoing peers. Though we viewed organized religion with suspicion, we still wondered, How would our kids know what they believed about everything if they’d never been exposed to anything?” (Amanda Avutu)
Amanda’s own curiosity guided her response to her kids.
- “What did a spirituality built on the tenets of love and hope look like?
- If I could separate faith from organized religion, could I become a believer?
- What could I gain from contemplating everything I’d summarily dismissed in my youth?
- What did I want to practice—cynicism? Judgment?
- What if—through charitable work, acts of kindness, the lessons I was teaching my children—I had been practicing all along? Maybe I hadn’t forsaken religion; I had just reimagined it.”
Amanda’s way with her children
Recently, I drove the kids to Ebenezer Baptist Church, here in Atlanta, for Sunday service. Save weddings, they’d never been inside a place of worship. We listened to a descendant of Robert E. Lee preach at the pulpit of Martin Luther King, Jr., and I thought, We are all capable of so much more change than we realize.
My children and I now have plans to visit Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish temples; a mosque; and at least one more church. Not as voyeurs, or converts, but out of openhearted curiosity and respect.
Ideas for your family
- Respond actively when children express curiosity or envy over their friends religious/spiritual beliefs.
- Work out an age-appropriate plan to explore spirituality with the child. Any combination of these resources is possible:
- Attend houses of worship
- Internet search of faith traditions or ethical systems
- Read together children’s books based upon sacred writings
- Keep your focus on listening to the child’s thoughts; ask follow-up questions to help the child process more deeply; allow the child to lead next steps; give priority to those next steps.
(In an old issue of O magazine, I ran across an article that featured the words of author Amanda Avutu. They struck a chord.)
Tweetable: How #Martin Luther King’s pulpit still enlightens a modern-day family searching for their spiritual identity. Click to Tweet