If you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who has been exploring her own spirituality for a time. You’ve probably come to some understandings of yourself and the Universe/God/Godess/All that Is (or whatever you choose to call It).
These days with so many of us not resonating with The Church we can find ourselves wondering: How do I convey and teach spirituality to my kids? It can feel like a big responsibility, so let’s break it down to some simple steps.
Today, in my final minute of meditation I heard the familiar sound of baby-elephant footsteps down the hall with an abrupt stop at the doorway.
My six year old waited till I whispered “come sit down” with my eyes closed. She came and sat opposite me as I finished.
I opened my eyes and she greeted me with eyes bright and a huge smile.
I invited her to come snuggle into my lap and we sit in silence for several moments until she can’t hold in her thoughts any longer.
Curled up in my lap she says “Mom, I don’t know how to explain this, but sometimes I wonder–‘Who am I and what am I here for? How did the sky get there? Was it always blue? Sometimes I see things that no one else can see. There are little bubbles that burst into rainbows.”
I could really see her trying to explain these things she had no words for.
If you stop and listen to what’s in their heart and on their mind, you are teaching them a valuable spiritual lesson: the ability to connect to others and offer unconditional love and acceptance.
Teaching children how to hold space for someone, how to support someone, how to listen without any other goal than to understand comes from our modeling those behaviors.
If you do nothing more than hug them and validate their process of exploration, that will encourage them to keep reflecting.
Bonus: The fact that you’re listening means the world because you are their world.
After I listen for a while, I tell my daughter when I was her age I felt the same way. I felt how big the Universe was and how I felt big and small all at the same time. I tell her about how I still feel that way, about how there are things we can feel even though we can’t see or touch them (like Love) and how believing in something you can’t see is called FAITH.
We talk about the wonder and the mystery of LIFE. Then she jumps up to show me her yoga moves, eyes alight.
Use these moments to share your beliefs, but don’t be attached to your child taking them on. Spirituality is personal. It’s an exploration. You being open about what you’ve come to, or are still coming to, will help them to see how that process is never ending.
Sometimes we struggle because we think they just won’t get it, or it’s over their head, but finding ways to communicate your beliefs will help them feel confident in trying to find their own expression of their experiences so there really is no getting it wrong.
Use everyday, regular moments: “Right now when I’m holding you I feel tingly in my heart and Love all around me. To me, that is the energy of the Universe and I feel so grateful for you.”
Use the big moments too! It’s easy to shy away from talking about the spiritual experiences of birth, death, sex because we don’t know how. A simple explanation can go a long way. Nature is often a great reference: “Everything must die. A flower, a fish, a grandparent. It’s part of life. But I believe….”
Still cuddled on the couch, I tell my daughter that her whole Life she’ll be figuring out who she is and what she’s here for, that that’s what I’m still doing and I’ll do it forever.
She tells me she knows what she’s here for: “Mom, I’m here to listen and be with Nature. To listen to the birds and to BE ME with the sharks and the sting rays.”
She says it with conviction…and me? I say nothing. I sit stunned into silence.
Listen. Share. Learn. Don’t ever discount that your kids have something to teach you. Their minds work in a perfectly simple way and they see things we have forgotten to see. Modeling your willingness to be open to learning from them will not only imbue them with confidence in their own inner authority, but learning with them will connect you two deeper.
Seeing you practicing how to be a perpetual learner with an open mind lays the foundations for their own spiritual practice.
Also? When you listen, share, and you’re open to learning from your kids you’re own heart very well could crack open even more.
I hug my girl close, feeling that same familiar awe that I did as a child, that same sense of wonder.
Then I tell her to go brush her hair. It’s time to get ready for school. I argue with her sister about shoes. The world keeps on ticking, the same as always–full of lots of ordinary moments, sprinkled in with a few extraordinary moments like this one.