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 Parenting Press®

Looking at Values:

Spirituality

Parenting Press conducted a poll in March 2000 to ask respondents what values they most desired in children. This is a discussion of one of the top ten values identified.

Thinking About Spirituality

Definition: Being aware of the essense of life and the wonder and beauty of the world. Searching for meaning; living life as a sacred journey; being centered.
Behavior reflecting
the value:
He responds to beauty; is aware of the mystery of life. He is careful of the environment; picks up trash. He looks for the meaning in what a child says. He notices the similarities as well as the differences in the world's religions, political thought, and philosophies.
Knowledge and
skills needed:
The ability to meditate helps even a young person stay in touch with and connected to his inner life. Knowledge of the religious stories and belief of his parent's faith often gives expression to the spiritual, especially for young children.
Insights about the
value:
This value is not so much taught as it is lived. Time is of the utmost importance: time to be in touch, to envision the relationships and connectedness of the universe. It is also important to have beauty around.
Value present
at birth?
Yes -- It can be seen in the open-eyed stare of the new baby seeing the world of color for the first time. It can be detected in the unborn baby's response in utero to music.

Teaching or Preserving Spirituality
Baby/Toddler: Provide beauty in art and music forms. Give him time to enjoy and to wonder. A young child responds to beauty so easily; all you need to do is give him opportunities and time to enjoy it. Include religious stories in what you read to him. Teach him expressions of gratitude, such as prayers or silence before and/or after meals and at bedtime.
Preschooler: Continue as before. Help him to respect his environment. For example, teach him not to tear leaves off trees or bash flowers or step on bugs because they too are living beings. Continue to read the stories of your faith to him.
School age/Teenage: Respect his search for meaning. Consider what his music means to him. Guide him to be respectful of the environment and people. Take time to listen to his questions, to be aware of the issues, and to answer his questions honestly.

Influences on Learning Spirituality
Needs: Spirituality is a value that is also a basic need, one that often goes unmet in later life for many people. It is easily observably in children's response to beauty.
Temperament: His temperament will influence how he experiences beauty or comes in touch with the essense. An active child may dance to the music while a quiet child sits and listens, both will be moved.
Learning style: Make available to him the experiences to which he is most responsive. They might be music, art, dance, literature, mountain climbing . . . observe him carefully to see what moves him.

Reflections about Spirituality
Influence of other
values:
Many values, such as caring, being aware, and being cooperative, help children experience connectedness and consequently increase their potential for being spiritual.
New thinking
resulting from
analysis:
It is difficult to say what spiritual means exactly . . . and yet it exists. Perhaps that is one of the reasons people have found so many different expressions of the spiritual aspect of their lives. Thinking about a child's spirituality can strengthen your desire to be aware of his spiritual journey, though it takes a different form from your own or anyone else's.

Adapted from Using Your Values to Raise Your Child to Be an Adult You Admire by Harriet Heath, Ph.D.


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Last updated May 05, 2008