How to raise a spiritual child when you're not religious
A study conducted by Pew Research found that Latino millennials less likely to associate themselves with organized religion than older Latinos living in the United States. It makes sense, considering most young adults across the board living in the U.S. are becoming less religious. But that doesn't mean we can't raise spiritual kids.
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"Many parents have become disillusioned with organized religion and also with parenting becoming more intentional, wanting to allow space for their children to come into their own awareness of what spirituality means for the child," says Integral and Transpersonal Psychologist Charlene Brown. "Spirituality can allow for the calming ritualistic aspects of believing in something larger than oneself, without having to name a specific deity, or any deity at all."
Just because you don't follow an organized religion doesn't mean spirituality doesn't hold a big space in your life. Spirituality is also a great way to get your children to connect with the world.
"It's an era of constant stimulation (ads, television, computers, tablets, smartphones) and it's become vital to teach our kids how to find that still, calm, center," says Cultural Identity expert and Spiritual Coach, Darla Antoine. "That part helps us distinguish what is truly of ourselves and what is just external stimuli. Raising spiritual kids gives them the advantage of better knowing themselves and who and what they stand for in this world."
Here are a few ways to raise your kids spiritually without being religious:
Accept that you won't always have the answers: "Part of spirituality is allowing for the freedom of exploration and coming to answers for themselves," says Brown. "Kids will find much more meaning in things they have had to figure out for themselves, than something handed to them. Religion provides a much more prescribed set of rules that participants are expected to follow; spirituality leaves that a bit more open-ended."
Educate them about other belief systems: If you want to raise your kid to be spiritually conscious, the first step is to teach them how people all over the world praise and worship their God(s). "It's key to educate kids about diversity that exists in the world," says Brown. "Kids love learning new things and are also naturally curious."
Teach them how to pray: Praying is not something that's limited to organized religion only. You can pray to God but also to the universe, nature, or whatever works for you. "Being able to ask for help, being able to express gratitude and to admit that you don't know something are important qualities in well-rounded individuals and praying is a fantastic way to teach your kids how to do all three of these things," says Antoine.
Connect with nature: A lot of people are able to find inspiration and a sense of spirituality in nature. "Have your child explain what he or she is feeling when out in nature and validate their experience," says Brown. "This focuses on interconnection between species."
Teach your kids how to listen to their dreams: "Every major religion, and certainly alternative spirituality, believes in the power of dreams to bring divine guidance and inspiration," says Antoine. "Teach your kids to remember their dreams and to act on them, simply by asking them about their dreams every morning and then asking them what they would like to do with the dream. Their imagination is the limit."
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