My husband and I don’t really belong to a specific ‘church.’ We practice a very open-minded faith—God comes in many forms, and no religious group has the monopoly on understanding Him or a fast-track to heaven. We think Jesus Christ, Buddha, and Allah are all equally cool. And, come to think of it, so are the Wiccans and the New Age philosophies.
Our dilemma has therefore been how to raise our child to have a strong spirituality without the usual Sunday School or Bible study. Here are some tips that helped.
Set a good example
We believe that true spirituality changes your heart so that you are kind, compassionate, trustworthy, ethical—and not because of a fear of hell, but because it’s just the right thing to do. The only way to teach that is to, well, be that.
Listen to your child’s ideas
Kids can have some pretty odd theologies, like the idea that thunder is when God stomps around in heaven. Don’t laugh at them. Instead, ask questions that help them express their ideas and possibly deepen them. ‘Do you think God gets mad? What do you think makes him mad?’
Learn spirituality through play
Spirituality doesn’t have to be taught in a serious way. Ask your child to draw a picture of what he thinks heaven looks like. Look at Youtube videos of different kinds of worship and beliefs and talk about how faith, at its heart, is always a celebration of life and the Being that created it. Dance to different religious music. Ask your child to make up a prayer thanking God for a beautiful sunset. Start an early morning meditation or “quiet time” ritual. Or, make a scrapbook on ‘the top 10 things I’m glad that God made.’
Introduce your child to people of different faiths and point out similarities between religions. For example, ‘Lots of faiths have Sabbaths but it’s not always on a Sunday.’) You can also talk about how religions may differ in ceremonies but not in morals, because everyone believes in being honest, fair and good to other people.