Sharing Our Spiritual Beliefs with Our Children
From a very early age, many children start asking the “big questions”. “Where did I come from? Who made the world? What happens after you die?” As parents, we may feel at a loss for words – or maybe even a little intimidated – by such questions. Perhaps we humor them, or ignore them. But these moments of a child’s curiosity can serve as opportunities for us to share our own personal views about the larger entities of life and the universe – our most intimate spiritual beliefs.
These are the kinds of conversations that we may return to again and again, and the details that we give will most likely change as our children grow in comprehension. The stories that young people hear need to keep pace with their knowledge of the world. Today they may believe in ogres and trolls, but in a few years the new monsters might be war and the destruction of rain forests. At each stage of their growth, we can offer them a slightly different explanation of our relationship with God, or the Goddess, or the Great Creator – whatever our personal paradigm might be.
Our deep beliefs regarding what is sacred in living and dying will strongly influence how we live day to day. Exposing this part of ourselves to our children can form the basis of a powerful bonding experience.
During their school years, children experience the beliefs of their various peers, who might belong to Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Wiccan, and many other orientations. This will demand a further broadening of our continued conversation with them about the spiritual life. It will be a good time to discuss the similarities between the various religions, and the positive things that they all aspire to, rather than their differences. Generally, this will work to promote open-mindedness and tolerance in our children towards the wide array of things that different people can hold sacred.
The extent to which we discuss our spiritual beliefs with our kids will depend, in large part, upon how big of a role spirituality plays in our personal lives. If you’re a practicing Buddhist, and you chant mantras every morning and evening, then your child is likely to be curious about your practice – and your reasons for doing it – from a very young age.
Our deep beliefs regarding what is sacred in living and dying will strongly influence how we live day to day. Exposing this part of ourselves to our children can form the basis of a powerful bonding experience. Also, it will impart to our young ones some basic tools with which they can begin to build up their own beliefs about life and the larger purpose of it. Our children may grow up to think much differently than we do in that regard. But they’ll still know us a lot better than they would have if we’d never shared our spiritual life with them.