Children want and need adults to take the lead in developing their their conscience, character, morals, values. But many of us are uncomfortable talking about it. Some believe that we need never bring up spiritual matters at all, others feel that we must instill our own beliefs into children. What if the uncomfortable feelings about spiritual conversations are coming from the adults, not from the children? What if we work on the assumption that spiritual awareness already exists in the heart of every child?
How would that lower our personal discomfort? What small changes could we make to increase our confidence in dealing with our child’s spiritual curiosity?
1. Establish a family ritual or routine.
Some parents put it into the bedtime routine for consistency’s sake: bath time, reading a book, saying a prayer or answering a question. It becomes a normal part of everyday life, eliminating the awkwardness
A friend of mine asks four daily questions of her 12-year-old twin grandsons whom she is raising:
- Best thing that happened to you today
- Worst thing
- Thing you need God’s help with tomorrow
- Thing you are most grateful for today. “I like ending with the gratitude reminder,” she explains.
2. Use normal life experiences to weave values into everyday conversations.
Make an observation or ask a question when you see the opportunity. This tells children that it’s okay for them to ask questions or talk about qualities of spirit. One adoptive mother compares talking about spirituality to talking about adoption:
In all of the adoption literature, parents are told again and again to initiate talking about adoption with their children. When the parents never mention it, they are communicating to their child a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy: Let’s act like adoption isn’t part of the equation to help the child feel more “normal.”
Yet the reality is that the child needs to engage with and process that part of their history. Counter-intuitively, talking about it is what actually normalizes it. Many adoptive children who are now adults say that they were afraid to ask their adoptive parents questions for fear of hurting their feelings or upsetting them. They assumed that silence on the subject of their adoption was caused by the parents’ discomfort with the subject.
In the same way, we normalize spiritual awareness by noticing it in everyday life. Nine times out of ten, children let it pass without comment. But once in a while they use the opportunity to ask a question or launch a discussion.
- Changes in your lifestyle that show respect for your child’s spiritual curiosity. Click to Tweet
- Two ideas that can lower our discomfort with our child’s spiritual development. Click to Tweet