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“Morality is not just something that people learn, it is something we are all born with,” wrote Gareth Cook in his recent interview with Yale psychologist Paul Bloom in an issue of Scientific American (Nov 12, 2013) (italics mine).

The interview with Bloom continues:

“At birth, babies are endowed with compassion, with empathy, with the beginning of a sense of fairness.

The sort of research that I’ve been involved with personally, looking at the origins of moral judgment, is difficult to do with very young babies. But we have found that even 3-month-olds respond differently to a character who helps another than to a character who hinders another person.”

first grade intensity 982484_57445648This kind of research supports the core of child-centered spirituality–

… that conscience, morals, character are in them already. That the way to develop children’s spirit is found in opening yourself up to their world, in asking them questions and answering theirs, in listening.

It is universal, but we still avoid the topic

Think about the last time you were in a discussion with people of diverse spiritual perspectives about how your child’s human spirit is developing. I’m guessing it wasn’t anytime recently at a play group, team barbeque, or playground bench.

Do we want to normalize it?

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In light of the research, this topic is of more importance to children than many of us realize. I wonder if it would be in the best interest of the child to attempt to normalize the topic by talking more opening about cultivating our child’s spirit. For example, asking other parents to give you recommendations for some picture books their child likes with spiritual themes of forgiveness, equality or sharing. Or swapping stories of family spiritual experiences such as visiting an elderly friend or taking a nature walk.

What would it look like if you did that?

Would open interaction point us toward a framework that helps us understand ourselves and others and our place in the world?

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