How Important is Spirituality for Children?
If you’re a religious person, there may be no question about the importance of spirituality for children. You may be raising them in the values of your own religion and may have strict rules about its observation. If you’re not a religious person, you may also wonder if there is any value to teaching a child some type of spirituality or belief in this area, and may wonder how to do so without actually joining a church.
Your own beliefs about religion and god are yours and people must respect them; never let someone “guilt” you into taking a child to church when you don’t believe in its teaching, and never let someone else tell you that there is no purpose in teaching religion to your child either.
Religions often teach their followers about love and compassion and also encourage positive traits like hard work and a sense of family. Even if a child doesn’t believe in the doctrine of a religion, they may learn these positive messages and this helps them to become a better person. Religion may also be steeped in tradition that brings families together; Christians celebrate Christmas not just as a religious holiday but as a family holiday, and persons of the Jewish faith have many traditions that involve family gatherings and celebrations. These things can be very important to children.
For those who don’t believe in religion, teaching your children about the world around them and the potential for a higher power can give them a great sense of spirituality, without ever stepping foot inside a church. Many people who are not religious are still very spiritual, believing that there are many things in the universe to which we are connected, but also believing that organized religion is not necessarily the best way to understand that connection. When children learn about the universe and nature, they feel a part of something much larger than themselves.
No matter your religious beliefs and views, it may be good to expose your child to a wide range of thinking and to many philosophies, all of which can give them knowledge and wisdom and an ability to face life on their own. For example, if they learn Buddha’s teaching of removing the self and ego, they may be more peaceful and content and less concerned with material possessions. Many children are fascinated by Native American culture and their teaching about Mother Earth, which can instill in them an appreciation for nature and animals.
As a parent you may need to decide the best way to introduce spirituality to your children while still respecting their own decisions as they get older. Children don’t always agree with parents about spirituality and religion, but some exposure to these ideas will encourage them to think for themselves and to have a wider view of the world around them.