Spirituality and Children



Family Spirituality

This is an especially hard concept to claim. In our age of diversity and individuality it is hard to find a common definition of spirituality. We know only that we need it. For some it's formal worship, for others it is an evening meal indulged in, oblivious of time. Spirituality is profoundly connected to discovering meaning, and if we can understand how to activate meaning, we begin to get our own spiritual life. Discovering meaning we begin to get at our own spiritual life. Discovering, creating, and assigning meaning to the everyday, nourishes this kind of timeless spirituality.

Gina Bria, The Art of Family.


Spirituality in family life starts with heroism and you are the star.

Many people think that Family Spirituality is about how to raise children with respect to religious traditions. That is only part of spirituality. Family spirituality is different from religious affiliation. Little has been written about the vital interior space of spirituality among family members. Spirituality in this space is deeply personal and shows who we are. It is not morality--that has more to do with how we treat others in our public life. It is not a rite of passage or a lesson, but a life. Living a heroic life means to give our living spiritual presence to our families. Spirituality means being informed by the spirit of God (or what ever you define the essence outside of yourself), and speaks to the reality of a spiritual world.


Heroism means doing the right thing in the moments of our daily life, not classic heroic moments (although welcomed). Spiritual leadership at home earns a special place in children's formation, especially in their imagination. Refining our children's spiritual imagination is essential; it will become their storehouse, a granary, for making choices about the way they will face loss or triumph. Their imaginations will be shaped by the world we present them. Children need to hear not only what we believe in, but also what we long for, what we hope for. Speaking kindly (or just not speaking harshly) about someone who has angered us. Being responsible for our behaviors and our own feelings. Working to clear up a misunderstanding. Tell someone you are sorry. Ask for what you need. Making healthy choices for living.


Universal elements of spirituality


1.      Giving our children a relationship with nature.


2.      Cultivating in children a capacity to observe.


3.      Model and cultivate the ability to listen.


4.      Creativity and imagination: helping them create something out of what they have seen or heard.


5.      Responding with Gratitude.



T. Tolan, 1998. Adapted from: The Art of Family by Gina Bria



The Family Practice of Spirituality

Spirituality is acknowledging that we are connected, and how we are connected to everything. It is about remembering who you are and what you want your children to learn: love, connect to oneself, how to make meaning in their life, respect for all life, values and virtue, caring for others, conflict resolution and communication skills. Spirituality is consciously thinking and behaving in alignment with your values, goals and commitments. It is having intentions, forethought.

T. Tolan, 1995 Family Spirit


Family Spirituality. There are many things we can do to join our children in their spiritual lives and to foster its development. First is to take your children's questions seriously. Honor these wonderings for what they are: serious intellectual work. Wonder with them. Ask them how they know that. Listen to them. Reflect what you hear theym saying. Share what you believe and why you believe, give them the space to develop their own believes, meaning do not demand that your children believe as you do.

You can pray in their presence. Offer thanks over meals or gathering of friends. At the end of the day, share what you are grateful for, both in your child and in the day that you are completing.

We can provide them with time to pray/worship or meditate with us, but also provide them time to pray/worship or meditate on their own because children, too, need this and not get stuck on watching spiritual professionals. A big rock is a good place to sit and pray/meditate, looking out at the world. The natural world, not the man-made world provides us with the right proportions, the right perspective.

Listening and being a loving family is a form of pray and worship and is asking questions. Read aloud, together from favorite stories and religious texts. The simple act of reading can be a spiritual experience. Reading alone tutors children to sit quietly and enter a new world through imagining the place and action of the story.

Playing musical instruments together is great fun, but also spiritually binding, from tribal drums to Handel chorus, music pierces us. If you don't play an instrument, You can sing. Your music together doesn't have to be of spiritual text. The act of singing itself is an act of vulnerability, another way to be with each other, open to each other. If you don't sing, or hum, listen to music together.

Laughter, fun and comedy. Laughter is food for the soul. Learning to laugh at oneself, the irony of life and mistakes is an important coping skill.

Develop or renew family traditions. Meals together, tea at a certain time everyday. One family has popcorn for dinner every Sunday evening. as a contemporary twist on Sabbath rest, we have high tea on Sunday evenings. Certain plates and platters come out just for this event. They are nothing more than thrift shop finds, but once they hit the table, they become heroic, met with expectations and excitement. We light candles, sing, and nibble on treats. come measles or tax time, we still relish our tea together.

T. Tolan, 1998. Adapted from: The Art of Family by Gina Bria



Name and one reason why you think it is important to discuss spirituality with children.



Universal Characteristics


Developmental Stages


Intentional Parenting


Conscious Parenting.

African Story Tree of Life.

Intentionality--Parenting As A Spiritual Discipline


Intentions remind us of what is important. When we form the intention to do something, and that intention in turn informs our choices and our actions, the chances that we will be sensitive to what is important in our lives increase greatly, and we are more likely to see the big picture. Our intentions serve as blueprints, allowing us give shape and direction to our efforts, and to assess how we are doing as we work at developing something worthy of ourselves and our lives. so at some point, whenever that is, we have to decide what is really important for us, and then to work at constantly keeping that framework in mind as things unfold.

In mindful parenting, certain principles are important to affirm from the very beginning. This does not mean that if we already have children, it is too late to become more mindful in our parenting. It means that we begin, when we are ready, wherever we are in our lives, and work with the here and now, formulating the intentions that are important for us to affirm and to implement, and that are realistic. not only is it never too late to introduce mindfulness into our lives, the very moment that we make the conscious commitment to do so becomes the perfect moment to begin.


INTENTION ONE: I will bring my entire creative genius to the work of mindful parenting.


INTENTION TWO I will see parenting as a spiritual discipline, meaning that it provides me with every necessary opportunity to cultivate wisdom and openheartedness in myself, so that I may come to know and express my true nature and share what is best in me with my children and the world.


INTENTION THREE: I will cultivate mindfulness and discernment in my daily life, especially with my children, using an awareness of my breathing to ground me in the present moment.


INTENTION FOUR; I will make every effort to see who my children actually are, and to remember to accept them for who they are at every age, rather than be blinded by my own expectations and fears. By making a commitment to live my own life fully and to work at seeing and accepting myself as I am, I will be better able to accord a similar acceptance to my children. In this way, I can help them to grow and to realize their full potential as unique beings.


INTENTION FIVE: I will make every effort to see things from each child's point of view and understand what my children's needs are, and to meet them as best I can.


INTENTION SIX. I will use whatever comes up in my own life and in the lives of my children, including the darkest and most difficult times, as "grist for the mill" to grow as human being to that I am better able to understand my children, their soul needs, and what's required of me as a parent.


INTENTION SEVEN: I will fold these intentions into my heart, and commit myself to putting them into practice as best I can, everyday, and in appropriate ways that feel right to me and that honor my children's sovereignty, and my own.

Every Day Blessings: The Inner work of Mindful Parenting, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Myla Kabat-Zinn


Spirituality is acknowledging that we are connected, and how we are connected to everything. It is about remembering who you are and what you want your children to learn: love, connect to oneself, how to make meaning in their life, respect for all life, values and virtue, caring for others, conflict resolution and communication skills.

T. Tolan, 1995 Family Spirit

Healthy Family Characteristics

What would spiritual family characteristics look like? How is your family the most important foundation

for your children's development. Conscious parenting.


Strengths Model. Focus on positive. Each person, each child is unique and has a gift to offer the world...to be nurtured. Gift of Self Esteem. Parenting from the heart. Caring for others, empathy.


Rules, Family rules. Learning self discipline and respect. Consequence, responsibility and accountability


Communication. Intentional Dialogue, Reflective Listening. Listening to God, Talking to God, praying.


Values. How do we teach our children values. Which values do we want to teach them


Goals and Family Time. What kind of relationship do you want with your child? What does

family time look like? What are my spiritual goals? What are my parenting goals? Family Mission



Parenting as a spiritual practice. Staying present with your connection to God through the tasks and demands of guiding and caring for children. Staying present with the needs of your children and your own needs. Centering, grounding, meditating. continue to strive and search for spiritual growth by studying religious teachings and philosophies in those rare moments in between the demands of parenting.


T. Tolan/S. Perkins Family Spirit 1994



Waldorf / Stiener Your Are Your Child's First Teacher, Rahima Baldwin.

0-1st year: rapid physical development as well as beginning of social and emotional foundations of love and trust which provide the foundation for all other development.


1-2nd year: physical mastery of his or her body, developing language; the emergence of individuality

and personal power and the growing sense of "I". The task for parent is to encourage balanced

development. That is to encourage the mastery of physical skills, emotional development through

relationship with parents and intellectual development through exploring the world around them.

It is very important to have rhythm, in the early stages and continue on through all the stages.


2 3 Beginnings of Imaginative Play

3 7 Development of Fantasy and Creative Play

0 7 Metabolic/limb system Willing/Movement/Imitation

7 14 Heart/lung/rhythmic system Feeling/Imagination

14 21 Nerves/sense/head system Thinking/Analysis

Blessingway for Aliye

When friends arrive, ask them to write a blessing for either Aliye, or Theresa and Dan


1. Circle (in living room) Opening with the four/seven directions. (Roy)


2. Introductions and how people know us (Sara)


3. Statement of Intention (Sara

In America, we traditionally celebrate a coming birth with a baby shower. the shower provides support for the mother and father and welcoming for the baby through the gathering of friends and family and giving of gifts. Theresa and Dan have asked for a Blessingway to celebrate and honor the birth of their child. The story around the Blessingway is that it is drawn from Navajo Tradition, a ritual that marks many of the passages in ones life. A blessingway for a birth is a ritual to honor the woman's divine procreative powers. It blesses the way for the child soon to be born and helps the mother open to the magic of birth. It is a gift for all who participate, for they, too, depart with a recharge of life force.

Dan and Theresa are inviting you to help us create a sacred ritual with the same intention of the Blessingway. We honor that although women actually birth the child, the birthing process necessitates both female (nurturing) and male (warrior) energy. Both Mothers and Fathers as well as Friends and Community are essential in the parenting and nurturing of a child through their life. We ask that you our friends and community to join us to create a sacred space around the birth process, building and connecting spiritual strength, to ensure the safe birth of Aliye and welcoming of our daughter.


4. Support and Strengthening Theresa and Dan for the Birth process.

Women go to the baby's room, men go to computer room or outside (45 min- 1 hr.)

For Women

With each person taking a turn, wrapping yarn around their left wrist several times while share her name and the names of their female lineage as far back as she remembers. (May name children). After the woman has wrapped her wrist she is invited to share a story of a birth (her own, a physical, mental or spiritual birth) (~5 minutes a piece). The yarn is passed. repeat process. Ending with the mother. Scissors are passed and yarn symbolizes our connection to each other a mother/female spirit and women are invited to wear the yarn as solidarity and support for the mother until the baby is born.


5. Together again (Roy)

Circle: Share blessings aloud and put in basket.


6. Labor Visualization. (Sara)

Ask everyone to join in visualizing the actual labor and birth process, sharing and dispensing of the labor pain and opening of the heart and birth canal as Aliye enters the world.


7. Ground the energy (four directions) Roy.


Sharing the meal.