Your Child's Spiritual Nature Is a Key to Their Happiness
These 6 family traditions can help nurture a child's spirit.
Posted Jan 21, 2020
“The biggest gift you can give your children, is to remind them of their spiritual nature.” —Psychologist Lisa Miller, Ph.D.
Spirituality has an interesting connotation for people. Some immediately think it refers to something religious. Others see it as self-help and yoga types. For many, the response is emphatically: "Not my thing."
In my humble opinion, spirituality is a connection to something greater than our own limited selves, our fearful egos and our own positioning in the world. It can be to God, Nature, Love, The Universe, Life, Grace, Energy. You name it. It is the opposite of more followers, more stuff, more self-concern, more climbing the totem pole of life.
It is what makes us all equal. All enough. All perfectly human. All connected.
It is what remains unchanged about you, when everything around you is changing.
It is what meditation helps you connect with: the part of you that you can witness is always there, regardless of your outside circumstances.
Why am I talking about spirituality? Because it is vital to remind our kids about it. And its never too early. Too many kids are growing up finding their safety only in their external world: their parents, or home, or friends, or sports, or worse, their screens. That is where they "get" love, recognition and the connection they so desperately crave. And yet, for many kids, things will change, often dramatically, leaving them feeling like everything that they are has been broken.
Too many kids have lives focused on themselves, their achievements and their performance. It is urgent for kids to feel part of a community, of something that unites them, with shared goals not only personal ones. Our kids need to grow up in a world of generosity, not only one of MeMeMe and materialism. Kids need to be shown they have an "inside world" and that the development of their heart is as important as their mind.
Lisa Miller, psychologist and author of The Spiritual Child, presents years of research signaling the power and importance of spirituality. She explains the clear, scientific link between spirituality and health and shows that children who have a positive, active relationship to spirituality:
- Are 40 percent less likely to use and abuse substances
- Are 60 percent less likely to be depressed as teenagers
- Are 80 percent less likely to have dangerous or unprotected sex
- Have significantly more positive markers for thriving including an increased sense of meaning and purpose, and high levels of academic success
This is huge research, which hasn’t gotten the press it deserves!
Spirituality is not in conflict with any religion. It is part of every religion and can go hand in hand with the religion of your choice. It doesn’t need to even come from a parent. As long as a child is exposed through an adult to something spiritual, be it religion, church, prayer (to anyone), angels, giving back, an altar, music, volunteer work, nature’s cycles, any tradition that involves connecting to their spirit, a child will reap the benefits.
For me, bringing up a spiritual child means showing them:
- They are not only their gender, age, body, address, brain … they are pure love.
- They are good enough, worthy and wanted, no matter what.
- Love is all around if they look for it.
- Some things that are not visible are going on, all the time. (Look at how nature works, their body, the universe, even love.)
- The same energy (consciousness) is flowing in everyone and we are all connected.
- What they do to others, they will also experience to help them learn.
- Generosity and service are part of everything and the seed of fulfillment.
- The game of life is not about winning, being big or special. It is about learning to love and feel joy.
As I always say, as parents we must believe and embody this first, as children learn from who we are being before our words!
As a family, we have a few traditions or routines that ground us in the energy of spirit:
- Gratitude: We take turns saying grace as a family before meals. Each person says something they want to acknowledge or be thankful for. And we are always looking for ways to be appreciative of what we have (warm bed, food, money, joy) and appreciative of others (rubbish collectors, waiters, cashiers, anyone being of service).
- Prayer, Breathing, Meditation: We say prayers and always include people/causes/events that may need a special prayer. We breathe when our minds are too busy and go back to our inner world.
- Open-Mindedness & Non-Judgment: We learn about all religions and traditions and all types of people, to understand and respect everyone that might cross our path.
- Love & Self-Love: We are all doing the work of letting go of negativity, self-criticism and focusing on having a kind mind. We honor and welcome all emotions.
- Generosity & Service: We find daily ways to be generous, give back, volunteer and focus on others.
- Conversations: We chat about solutions for the Earth's problems, we focus on softer life skills, we explore bigger life questions like death and notice things in our environment with kind and curious eyes.
It is our job as parents to remind our children of their spirit, their values, what is worth doing with this precious life and helping them feel connected to others, not separate. Spirituality opens up wonderful questions to talk about with our beautiful children. Most kids grow up thinking that schoolwork, then getting into college, then getting a job, then getting married, is what this life was meant for and what will make their parents happy.
Living a more spiritual life is helping your child figure out what is most important to them, encouraging them, showing them the magic they have inside of them, their own answers, their own passion, not that of the "consensus consciousness" that keeps them limited and with a false illusion of safety by fitting in.
You want to be a spiritual parent? Help your child figure out why they came to planet Earth, what their mission is here. Help them feel connected to everyone, to have compassion and empathy and to find their own unique way to serve their fellow beings. And help them to value their inner world, at least as much as their outer world, as a place from which to make decisions from and solve life’s challenges.
P.S. As a mother, I found it challenging to "teach" spirituality to my child, so I set about creating a book series, Giggles and Joy, to help with the task!