(This article is a repost but I like it…)
A bumper sticker on the back of an expensive recreational vehicle read: “We’re spending our children’s inheritance.” While many parents strive to save wealth and property to hand down to their children, how many parents will make an effort to leave a spiritual inheritance for them? How do parents invest in the wealth of their children’s moral well being? What transactions should parents engage in to create ethical returns in their child’s behavior?
These are some of the questions we will look at in this second installment on “The Moral Development in Children.” To help with the answers, we asked Mimi Doe, author of the book “10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting” and a group of spiritually minded parents for practical advice on creating a spiritual inheritance.
“Mirror, Mirror”In the introduction to her book, Doe writes: “Children are spiritual beings.” She considers a child’s spirituality to be innate but that parents and other adults “clobber it out of them.” Parents who want to develop moral and ethical behavior in children must nurture these qualities in their child. One of reasons parents “clobber” or discourage these qualities in children is that they are not attuned with their own spirituality.
Parents are psychological and spiritual mirrors to children. “Children form their earliest ideas about God, the world, people, and trust from what is mirrored from you,” says Doe.How do you act, or react, to circumstances? Do you scream at the guy who just cut you off on the road? Do you make fun of other people? Do you tantrum when you are frustrated? A child’s identity is filtered through the beliefs and behaviors of their parent.
A parent from the online support group stated it this way: “The most important heritage we can leave our children is to have them be richly aware of God’s presence and working in our lives. The way we perceive and explain the events of day-to-day life; how we live will determine their spiritual inheritance.”That’s a heavy load for many parents who didn’t grow up in a spiritual or moral home or feel too overwhelmed by life to try and be “perfect” in front of their children. Not having moral models, in parents own lives, may mean that being a moral mirror is difficult, it is never too late to develop one’s own spirituality. Doing so doesn’t require a strict religious training or dogma asserts Doe. While that might work for some parents, a day-to-day way of being, with our child, and us, is all that is needed.
Another mother of the Parents Work Bench expressed, “If I teach my children to build their treasures on heavenly things: love, peace, patience, and kindness, that is being a real mother.” Perhaps many of the physical things parents are currently doing, that make them exhausted, are actually teaching an anti-moral lesson.“Weave spirituality into your everyday rhythm; your daily routines,” prescribes Doe. “It doesn’t take any more time to light a candle and flip on Mozart than to turn on the television or news in the morning.”
The moral of this moral lesson is mirror to your children what you want to see in them. And if your children are not displaying the kinds of behavior, who consider right, take a look in the mirror first, to see what your child is seeing and possibly mimicking.The Spirit of Discipline
Doe suggests that parents let go of people or situations that drag them and the children down, physically and spiritually. When you are around exciting and stimulating people whom love life, you feel excited and full of life too, right? But when you are around people and situations that deplete the emotional reserves, you feel negative and empty.The same is true for children. They need vibrant, spiritual parents who give them life. And, they need parents to make tough decisions about where they should go, what they should watch, who they should socialize with, to help them develop their spiritual and moral selves. If this is done early in a child’s life, they will have a better chance latter in life, to act morally and know the value of their own spirituality. A proverb, in the Holy Bible, says, “Train a child when he is young and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Sound investment tips there!
A common complaint of American parents is that they no longer have the tools to teach children right from wrong. Parents argue that because their tool of spanking is gone, so is their ability to discipline. In light of the principles of spiritual and moral development, the problem may not be technique, but lack of “spirit.” Without the inner discipline, taught by a parents words and deeds, the outer discipline is unprofitable (spiritually speaking).Making Spiritual Transactions
So, what can a parent do to increase the interest rate of their child’s moral bank account? Doe offers various exercises, affirmations, and activities for parents for each spiritual parenting principle:Spiritual Principle #1: Knowing God Cares for You. “Establish daily spiritual habits and household rituals and pray anytime you hear a siren. Send a blessing to everyone involved in the emergency incident, paint or draw pictures of God, point out simple signs of God in your child’s life: the perfect snowflake, the lunar eclipse, the magic of spring. Learn about the worlds religions and create a family alter.”
Spiritual Principle #2: Trust and teach that all life is connected and has a purpose. “Bring nature inside and let your family observe growth&Get involved in neighborhood beautification projects. Celebrate Earth Day. Take a hike, plant a butterfly garden or window box. Adopt a cause.”Spiritual Principle #3: Listen to your child. “Have mealtime conversations&ask your child to write some prayers that the whole family can use&Make dates for one-on-one with your children&Set up specific discussion themes and times&Read books with your child&have family meetings&Wish upon a star with your child.”
Spiritual Principle #4: Words are important, use them with care. “Write a poem about your pets&Create a cartoon character that represents you. Create a story box. Grab your journal before you go to sleep at night and jot down five images of your child from the day and write the story of your child’s birth. Plant secret love notes. Pray together as a family and tape record your daily conversations.”Spiritual Principle #5: Allow and encourage dreams, wishes and hopes. “Spend time role-playing a dream, create a dream book and point out examples of good luck throughout the day. Encourage team activities, sports, and interest groups. Ask each family member to draw or write his goals or dreams”
Spiritual Principle #6: Add magic to the ordinary. “Look for the fairy in the soap bubbles when you wash dishes and walk in the rain. Arrange the bedsheets into a tent and turn an ordinary night into an enchanted imaginary camp-out. Watch the moon come out. Have a picnic indoors. Try waking your child with a song. Play in the snow and come up with a family logo or family slogan.”Spiritual Principle #7: Create a flexible structure. “Take a recess from dishwashing for a night&turn out the lights and just use candles, have fun with a monthly dinner with international cuisine and music. Choose a direction and walk for ten minutes that way, get silly, talk in a silly language.”
Spiritual Principle #8: Be a positive mirror for your child. “Acknowledge your mistakes&sing hymns, drum, chant, or pray&Ask the blessing at mealtimes, say goodnight prayers, ask for a safe journey&laugh&List five traits you like about yourself as a child&support and cheer on others&yell or hold up cheering signs&smile.”Spiritual Principle #9: Release the struggle. “Release you image of an ideal family and accept that children are not always going to please you. Take a quiet day, slow down, help your child create a peaceful place in her mind and imagine a restful setting. Ask your child to place his hands on his heart. Feel the beating and picture light around your home. Meditate, take a hot bath, form a parent group. Push back the furniture and allow your child to dance their energy out.”
Spiritual Principle #10: Make each day a new beginning. “Validate successes at the day’s end, even small ones such as waking up on time, It’s alright to say no. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Rethink your priorities today. Play with the idea that you have no limits. Start the morning on a peaceful note. If it means making lunches and laying out school clothes the night before, do so, get up fifteen minutes earlier. Encourage children to eat slowly. Walk like a winner. In the evening visualize how you would like tomorrow to turn out.”Start Early and Grow Spiritually Rich
Most financial advisors show the need to start investing early in life. They love to demonstrate how a small, monthly investment, over the long haul, reaps greater financial rewards over large investments later in life. Spiritually, parents need to invest early and consistently, in small ways. But parents can start late too. In the moral and spiritual market, late can be almost as good as early, to invest.“Begin today,” states Doe. “Create your family rituals, celebrations, and traditions. Begin cultivating a code of honor in your family. That’s spiritual parenting.”
Or as another parent on the list exclaims: “If I die tomorrow, I will have died a woman who taught her children that power within us, above us, and around us, and to always respect that power and use it in a manner that will help others the way they would want to be helped.”References:
Doe, M & Walch, M. (1998). 10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting. Harper Perennial, New York.
You can get more information on Mimi Doe and her 10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting athttp://www.pink-bubble.com