Teaching Children Spirituality With or Without a Church
By Carrie Brown-Wolf
week a young boy told his mom that God wanted him to chew gum. He
continued his argument by saying that God created gum to help clean
his teeth. He even offered to chomp sugarless mint rather than
bubblegum flavor. It may sound like a reasonable argument, but his
mom did not buy it. Instead, she paid for the groceries, rolled her
eyes, and pulled the boy along.
How do adults teach children about God, values,
spirituality, and answer questions about prayers on chewing gum?
How do parents help kids understand religion if they
don't attend church?
How do parents help kids understand religion if they
do attend church, temple, or any other important religious
Understanding values, morals, religious texts, prayer, and teaching
good judgment takes parental involvement. Even families who attend
religious services weekly, need to help their children process what
they discover. Kids keep questions about lessons they learn and
difficulties they see.
in a world rich with many traditions, children learn about various
cultures from other kids, media, their community, and school. Still,
like many adults, they may not understand everything they see and
hear. It is a parent’s role to help kids understand and respect each
today’s diverse society, children recognize other religions. They
see red dots on foreheads, they make out mosques on the news, and
they acknowledge crosses hung from necks. How do parents help
children make sense of religious differences without alienating them
from family beliefs? How does a culture help kids learn about a
variety of preferences?
an environment to help children process, understand, and recognize
diversity can be the single most important teaching society offers.
Organizing the time to talk to kids takes some effort. However,
engaging in a spiritual learning process creates an environment of
excitement, fun, and diverse learning for the entire family. The
following ABC suggestions offer ways parents can develop a family
forum for faith, and they can shorten the time it takes to initiate
Action. Develop a specific time of the week or
the month to talk to kids about spirituality and important matters.
The consistency will help organize and place structure to the time
together. Kids can look forward to it, and they will know that you
carved out a space in your busy schedule just for them. Create an
environment to garnish children’s attention. Light aromatherapy
candles, sit on the floor with lots of pillows, and play music. Come
up with a family name for the designated time. In our home, we
created such an atmosphere and named it Soul Sunday. Options might
include Family Fun Club, World Adventure, Around the World
Religions, but include the kids in naming the time. They will feel
empowered and engaged. By designing such a structure, it encourages
participation and sets a tone for safety, importance, respect, and
Be Curious. Allow the space to question
beliefs. Research proves that exploring options develops self-esteem
and helps kids become more convicted to family values. Show your own
humanity by suggesting that you don’t know all the answers. Ask
questions that you wonder about. Let your children know that
learning and growing is a life-long process. Use multiple tools to
find answers, and go to the globe, the internet, and to a variety of
books to discover answers together. Besides learning about different
religions, you may want to include learning about history,
geography, climate, or anything about another culture that kids are
Create. Engage kids in projects, play, and
hands-on activities while learning about life’s lessons. Color, use
clay, bake, and walk outside while being together. Make it
exciting. Have fun together. Kids learn and retain information
better if they are directly engaged in activity.
and child psychologist Michael Gurian explains the critical
importance of raising spiritual children. In his book, Soul of
the Child, he says, “ Studies continually reveal that children
who are raised in a spiritual or religious path show greater levels
of happiness than children who have little or no religion in their
lives; studies show them to demonstrate fewer behavioral problems
and to engage in greater moral behavior. Religion (spiritual life)
is a cornerstone of raising healthy children.”
religious institution provides a valuable asset to society. However,
teaching children about religious tolerance and exploring personal
faith best comes from parents. Without a foundation or a family
forum to discuss beliefs, kids will look to television, movies,
news, to kids on the playground, or to other adults for information.
Wouldn’t you rather have such important information come from you as
Establishing a time to talk to kids develops communication, positive
self-esteem, love, and healthy relationships for the entire family.
A family grows purposefully through healthy, respectful
interactions. Create an environment to talk with kids about
spiritual matters, and it will open doors for all involved.
Discovering and understanding spirituality can foster growth for the
entire family. Why not enjoy the journey together?
Read other articles and learn more
about Carrie Brown-Wolf.
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