How To Raise A Spiritual Child
Many of the most spiritual adults emerge from the most adverse childhood experiences. In my own case, my parents were materialist-atheists, yet I matured into a deeply spiritual individual. Why does one child grow into a deeply spiritual adult, when his or her sibling turns out very differently, though they were both raised in the same household?
Spirituality is a mystery. Some believe that it comes to an individual from grace. Others believe that it arises in this life as a result of spiritual development achieved in a previous life. Whatever the ultimate cause, we can recognize how parents can support their child’s spiritual growth, or interfere with it.
We support our children’s spiritual growth by dedicating ourselves to living according to our deepest sense of The Golden Rule. This doesn’t mean that we lead perfectly pious lives, but that we uphold the level of self-honesty that forces us to face our transgressions. Beyond this, we then dedicate ourselves to doing better.
If we excuse our own immoral behavior – as our own heart and conscience define that behavior – we confuse our children regarding the values worth living by and the justice they can expect from the universe. If I lie and steal, even if I preach better conduct to my child, I teach my child that when push comes to shove, be selfish and deceptive and you will not only get away with it; you will thrive. We teach children that it is practical and necessary to veer off the path of true integrity when we model that.
We support our children’s spiritual growth by relating with our children in ways that help them to trust in the essential love and goodness of their universe. When we mistreat a child with neglect or aggressive abuse of any kind, we teach the child to lack faith in the goodness of himself, of other people and of the universe at large.
Part of spirituality is recognizing and abiding by the laws of justice in the universe. Even if a person seems to prosper through cruel, selfish, dishonest actions, that person eventually receives consequences that teach him the err of his ways through suffering. We therefore need to demonstrate for our children our own abiding sense of justice as a guide in our own lives. If the mother tolerates abuse from the father, or vice versa, the child learns weak boundaries in relationships, and weak boundaries around his own self-conduct.
Spirituality is guided by the internal feeling of sacredness and holiness. This spiritual sensibility is nurtured in a child as the child is exposed to an adult who nurtures that sensibility within herself. Spending time in solemn prayer and meditation, expressing your sacred sense of beautiful nature, art and altruistic deeds nurtures your spirituality and, by extension, nurtures your child’s.
We block our children’s spirituality when we attempt to impose spirituality upon them, particularly through the use of negative judgmentalism. Criticizing and condemning a child, instilling guilt feelings and the fear of being essentially bad and unworthy, closes the child’s heart and teaches the child to view spirituality as self-punishing, rather than as soul nurturing. Relating to the child as essentially good, kind, sacred and holy nurtures the child’s spiritual heart and allows the love of spirituality to blossom naturally from her soul.
The key element to spirituality is joy. When you enjoy your life with an open heart and a free spirit you teach your child to have faith in the essential goodness of the Divine and of the universe that is Divinely ruled. When you allow yourself to develop and express your natural gifts and talents you fill your heart with joy and demonstrate the perfection of the universe. We are meant to be happy, to enjoy life and to trust in our inspiration. This presents to the child a moral order of the universe, rooted in love.
Focusing on what we feel grateful for, instead of on what there is to complain about, fills our heart with appreciation and a love for life, and teaches our children to recognize and count their infinite blessings.
Dedicating ourselves to giving the best we have for the benefit of all teaches our child that the true secret to a happy, successful, fulfilling life is to give the best we can. The spiritual principle at work here is that the more we give, the more we receive.
Providing a child with an orderly, harmonious home environment that is a safe sanctuary for all family members is like providing a seed with rich, fertile soil. When the child’s environment is chaotic, filled with strife and unhappiness, the child is experiencing a kind of hell on earth and the tender sensibilities of spiritual, intuitive guidance gets drowned out and shut down in the child.
Raising a spiritual child is fun, because it requires that we parents have good, healthy fun in the way that we live and relate with our child. Living stressfully, worn down by the sense of burden, working so hard that we harden our hearts and lose our joy causes a child to relate to life as an unhappy necessity, not as a sacred gift. As we practice living and parenting with inner peace, harmony and joy our own spirits soar, and we support the soaring of our child’s spirit.
In my parenting phone coaching I guide parents in achieving their parenting goals and fulfilling their parental responsibilities with love, and without anger or stress. Feel welcome to contact me to receive a complimentary phone consultation.