I never worried about my children's spirituality until a family member asked me if I planned to baptize my baby daughter.
As a lapsed Catholic who considers yoga and watching Joel Osteen on Sunday my current spiritual practice, a church baptism didn’t make sense to me. Yet, I do 100% believe in God or Higher Power or One Love or whatever we choose to call it. I wanted my kids to have a belief in something, too. Here are a few of the things I've learned about raising spiritual children:
1. Spiritual Child: Decide Meaning
Decide what spirituality means to you.
If you are clearly Catholic or Jewish or any other religion, then you already have a set of codes and beliefs you can pass on to your kids. But, if you are like the one-third of Latinos who identify as spiritual without a specific religion, you might want to create your own “10 Commandments” and views on the afterlife, so you have a base from which to guide your child.
2. Spiritual: Never Too Early
It’s never to early to start.
My daughter was only two years old when she told me there was a ghost in our house. I have no idea if it was just her burgeoning imagination at work, or if she was actually sensing something I couldn’t. Instead of telling her that ghosts didn’t exist, I calmly explained that there were no ghosts in our house. I told her she was blessed, safe and protected. Then, I did what any good Mexican-American would do, and I rubbed her with an egg and gave my house a cleaning with sage.
3. Spiritual: Nature
Let nature be your guide.
To me God is nature, and there is no better way to introduce the wonder of the world to your hijos than by gazing at nighttime stars or taking a hike in the woods. If you live in a concrete jungle, make an effort to spend some time outdoors at a botanic garden or zoo. Even watching a bird in flight can awaken a sense of awe that invokes God and moves your spirit.
4. Spiritual: Power Prayer
Teach them the power of prayer.
Prayer is a wonderful spiritual tradition and an easy thing to practice anytime, anywhere. Next time you’re at the dinner table, have your kids give thanks for the food on the table, the farmers who made it, and Mother Earth for providing it. You can also have your kids send love and blessings to family and friends before they go to bed. These are heartwarming practices that connect your child with their family and community.
5. Spiritual: Meaning
Put Meaning Back In Your Holidays.
Christmas, Three Kings Day, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and many more religious holidays are approaching. Teach your children about the meanings of the different holidays and help them discover the deeper meanings of giving, faith and forgiveness.
6. Spiritual: Practice What You Preach
Practice What You Preach.
Remember that 10 Commandments you created in tip one? Here’s an idea: practice those daily. If you want your children to believe the world is a loving, kind and hopeful place, you need to be loving, kind, and hopeful. Whether you want to or not, your behavior teaches your kid more than anything else about how the world works.