A Summer Parenting Project For You

Some adults say they are not religious, but that they are spiritual.  So, my question for all of us to ponder today is how we make our religion and/or our spirituality evident to our children through  ACTIVITY?  A child is about DOING.  How does your child see you express your religious and spiritual views?  Do you even know what these are?  And, if not, can you figure them out?

I like what Donna Simmons has to say in her Third Grade Syllabus regarding festivals:  “It seems right to me that as a child develops a new relationship to authority and to his sense of self and place in the world, hallmarks of the Nine Year Change, he needs opportunities  to deepen his relationship to the spiritual worlds.  And what is most important is that this take place via you, your family and your community.  Your child needs to see his parents and significant adults standing strongly in their beliefs.  It might be that some day your child’s path takes her quite some distance from your beliefs, but her first steps need to start from standing firmly beside you.”

I urge you to make one of your projects this summer to explore your own religious and/or spiritual beliefs – really figure out what resonates with you!  Then, can you use the summer to explore places of worship or other venues where you can be with people who have the same spiritual beliefs you do?  But the catch is this:   that place, that venue should  also  be a community  in which your children can participate.  Yes, this has to be something the family participates in, the child participates in, and something the child can see and do. 

The other catch is that you cannot bring your adult perfectionism to the table or your past experiences.  Pick what resonates with you from a clean slate and leave your baggage behind!  Try it! 

Children need this place of religious and spiritual orientation to start from.  Give them that boat to start in and show them which way to paddle.  If in the future, if they decide to throw away the oars and jump off the boat, that is okay – but you at least are giving them a place to start. 

A great meditative summer project!  Would love to hear what happens!

Many blessings,

Carrie

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10 thoughts on “A Summer Parenting Project For You

  1. Wow, this so resonates with me. I never take the time to really think about what I believe. I so want my children to be a part of a community of people who believe as I do. Who don’t discriminate. Who know what ground they stand on so they can stand firmly despite the turmoil or change around them. Thank you for giving me this summer idea. I intend to really focus on it.

  2. Hi Carrie,

    I started reading your blog about 2 weeks ago and I can’t help but to keep on reading everyday. You are so inspirational, thank you. Two weeks ago, after an episode of yelling at my 2 year old daughter, I decided that enough is enough. The look on her face at my reaction for something very trivial, tells me she was scared. I cannot keep behaving like that with her. I don’t want her to be scared of me. So I started looking up articles on positive discipline and I happened upon your blog. I really appreciate all the help you are providing to all the parents out there who want to be good role models for their children. Thank you so much!

    This article about exploring one’s own religious or spiritual beliefs really hits home, since I am trying to figure out what reasonates with me. Thanks again.

  3. Carrie,

    For our family our church is our anchor. It holds us together, gives us strength, peace and support. It cements us in our community, bonds us with friends and offers opportunities for growth, both personal and spiritual, for myself and my children. We are not religious zealots. We have our faith and try very hard to live it. To me, talk about faith and spirituality without the experience of it, is like a boat floating in water drifting without an anchor.

    Jessica

    • Dear Jessica-
      Exactly: doing and being part of community that is bigger than themselves is the key for children.
      Thank you for your comment!
      Many blessings,
      Carrie

  4. Hi Carrie,

    My emerging conundrum is that my husband is an atheist. I am a lapsed Catholic who has found that the Yamas and Niyamas of yoga and Buddhism are what resonate most deeply with me. And I guess from that standpoint (yoga) my husband doesn’t disagree with what I would instill in our daughter. But I know that he would prefer any mention of God, god or G– be left out. Ironically, my inlaws, who were raised Catholic themselves, have both mentioned to me that they feel like they messed up or did my husband a disservice by never taking him to church or instilling any sense of reverence for the divine in him. That said, my beloved is a very ethical, loving, and even-tempered man!

    I know I know, this should have definitely been on our list of things to discuss before we had a baby!

    Soooo, any thoughts on raising a child in a household where on parent is atheist?

    • If Buddhism is what resonates with you, is there a Buddhist center near you that has programs for children? Would your husband be open to you exploring that with your child and leaving him out of it for the time being if he is not comfortable? Sometimes I find that fathers need much longer to come to a spiritual path, and in that sense, many times mothers do set the tone there. Perhaps you can have a conversation that is sensitive to both of your needs, but that puts the needs of your child to see the spiritual in life in every day in action, first.
      What everyday things could you do as a family – watching the sun set or rise together, saying a verse before a meal, saying the things you are grateful for every day – that would be agreeable to both parties as well?
      Please do keep me posted as to what you decide!
      Many blessings,

      Carrie

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  7. Another powerful message from you Carrie.
    Thank you.

    Both my husband and I belong to Indian Hindu families – though neither of us follow any religion.
    That said, I do make sure I take my little girl along to temples and churches – the ones that “call” me – except I like doing so when it’s almost empty and very quiet.
    I do see the necessity of her seeing the involvement of the family and community during festivals – so we take “festival holidays” – where we either go to our parents places, or to the houses of our multi-religious friends who believe in, and celebrate, the particular festival.
    Both of us stay in background, but the little one loves being absorbed into all the preparations, rituals, worship and celebration.

    I’ve yet to figure out if I want to create to any traditions or celebrations of our own, in our home.
    (Our idea of “spirituality” is to just to try and live as simply and sincerely as possible, and revere silence and nature)

    Thank you for this post and for highlighting the need to be clear of our beliefs and to translate them into actions for the little ones.

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