Samantha Rochard

My creative process.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Spiritual Growth in our children

Imagine this scenario if you will……. You are born, and at birth your parents decide immediately for you what your profession is going to be. Let us say this profession is a lawyer. You are immediately educated to becoming a lawyer, beginning with the first tenants of what is required for this education. You show an interest in chemistry, and you are immediately chastised for that interest. You are told that to pursue such an interest would be to your detriment, and you would come to ruin if you continued down that path. You show an interest in dance, and the same is done to you.

Any logical person would see this behavior of parents to their children as a form of mental abuse. This type of education is imposing the will of the parents onto the child. The child is neither allowed to develop properly, nor expand their interests, skills and talents outside of the profession of Law. This child would eventually become angry, resentful, limited in their view. Granted they may know law very well, but the underlying resentment which prevails would prevent for the balance in judgement needed to exist in this world effectively.

This is essentially what most parents do to their children in the area of spiritual development. We dictate what they should believe. At a certain point in their lives, children begin to spiritually explore other faiths and teachings. Tolerant parents would see this as part of the child’s development, and intolerant parents would fight them on this stage of their development.
At the age of 4-7, a child’s understanding of religious concepts is limited. At this stage it is still easy to believe in magical increase, decrease, disappearance. Reality is not a firm concept. The perceptions of the adults around them dominate judgment. 

"In the moral-ethical realm, the child is not able to show principles and make judgments underlying best behavior. They only use simple do's and don'ts imposed by authority."
(Child Development Institute)
 While the simple concept of right and wrong can be understood in the context of socially accepted practice, concepts with religious background and abstract thought cannot be truly understood until the child is about 9-12 years old.

As a parent however, we wish to always do what is right for our children. We wish them to grow into society, and make contributions toward its development. We wish to do all in our power to make them happy, healthy individuals as adults. We have been told that a solid religious background is the only way that they would learn morals and right values. We fail to realize, that even without this religious background, that our society and culture promotes socially acceptable behavior in our children. Right and wrong do not only come from religion, understanding of right and wrong come from experiencing  wider interaction with our society, interacting with all walks of life.  It is our own fear of what our children may become that makes us believe that it is the right thing to do.

Understand though, that this blog is in no way saying that children should completely stay away from religious activities at a young age. The value of family outings and practices has merit. Rather, the point being made here is to avoid the emotional conflict with our children when they begin their explorations; and allow them to come to their own conclusions about religious worship and practice. Allow them to  explore all spiritual teachings and choose their own belief system.

Our children also deserve the right to spiritually explore, and as parents we should see that this is as important a stage as physical and mental exploration. Yes there are dangers to spiritual exploration; but; we do not confine our children to the house in fear of danger of the physical exploration, do we?
There are basic warning signs which shall be discussed in the next blog.

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