**Another post originally from Parents Space that I would prefer be here :)**
I have the spirituality bug these days. It seems like every time I sit down to write (or think about writing), I’m compelled to reflect on the spiritual. As I mentioned in a recent post here on Parents Space, I am reading a book called The Gift of Faith: Tending the Spiritual Lives of Children by Jeanne Harrison Nieuwejaar. This book has given me a lot to think about in regard to the spiritual life of my growing family. A few nights ago, I read the chapter on Culture, that calls into question our priorities as parents.
Priorities are constantly changing in our lives, but there are some that are best to set in stone at the get-go. I believe that spirituality is one of those priorities that needs our serious attention. This is going to mean something different for each family, but for me, I believe that my children need to be raised in a home that values stillness/calm in order to foster a deeper connection with nature and humanity. My children may end up with a different view, but I find the divine to be present in each one of us and in all the natural beauty that surrounds us. This divinity cannot be experienced unless you stop and allow yourself to be fully present.
This section on Culture focused on how, for many families, life is a harried series of events that don’t really seem to end. When Sunday used to be a time of family recreation and worship/fellowship, it is now another day of errands, sporting events, work, and continued rushing. We, as a culture, have placed a higher value on these other types of events than on having one day set aside for family and the spiritual. Granted, the specific day may vary from spiritual tradition to spiritual tradition, but the idea is the same. My favorite quote from this chapter is on page 29 and is credited to Rabbi Moshe Waldoks taken from the Boston Globe on October 22, 1996, “I often go out to groups and say, “How many want your kids to be professional soccer players?” Of course, nobody raises their hand…Then I say, “How many want them to be Jews at the end of the century?” Oh! Everyone raises their hand. So where’s the investment? You’re investing in soccer and you want your kids to be Jews? Something is wrong.” Now, the Rabbi is not suggesting that kids not play soccer, rather, he is suggesting that families attend synagogue together and let soccer happen on other days. If spirituality is important to us as parents, it must be given priority.
There were many excellent points made throughout this chapter, and I will leave those to the book and encourage all who are interested in this topic to give it a read. For me, the take-home message was that if I am going to instill a sense of importance with regard to spirituality in my children, I need to make it as important as eating vegetables, getting exercise, and doing homework. When it is time to go to service, there is no hanging out with friends or going to a ballgame. If I allow other things to take precedence, then I am sending the message that spiritual practice is not important. I don’t know that we will ever be the family that attends every single Sunday, but time together as a family and with our church community will be non-negotiable. I am glad to have exposure to this piece of writing now when my children are quite young so that my husband and I can have a very well established routine and set of expectations prior to the boundary testing days of pre-adolescence and adolescence.
See my previous post relating to The Gift of Faith: Tending the Spiritual Lives of Children by Jeanne Harrison Nieuwejaar.