It’s easy to go through the day without talking about things of a spiritual nature with our children. We’re busy dealing with what’s obviously in front of us, not always tuned in to the non-physical ourselves. But, for me, everything that happens within our physical experience is part of our spiritual experience also. If we only talk about spirituality within limited contexts, such as for morning prayers, an evening gratitude practice and on special occasions, it feels more like something that is on the periphery of our lives than at the heart of it. Spirituality is kept alive for our children by talking about it. By making it a normal topic of conversation, we also show our children that they can share their experiences with us and ask us questions, which is so valuable for helping them to develop and connect with their own spirituality.
So, today I want to share with you 10 ways that I make talking about spirituality with my boys easy and a usual part of our conversations –
1.What do you mean by talking about “spiritual things”? – that’s kind of vague. And it is vague because, if everything’s spiritual, it’s a very wide category of conversation! It will depend on your own experiences, culture and understandings what exactly you talk about with your children and how you frame ideas. It includes such things as concepts of The Universe and how it works, love-based values (rather than fear-based), and spiritual practices such as gratitude & forgiveness.
2. Look out for opportunities in everyday life to talk about spirituality. Our daily lives provide plenty of natural content for juicy conversation. Watching the Football World Cup with my son gave us a lot to talk about when we saw players praying before games and pointing to the heavens when scoring goals!
3. Children’s literature is rich in both characters and stories (fiction and non-fiction) to talk about. There are numerous children’s books available on spiritual topics but, without looking for them, I find lots of great opportunity for valuable conversation in the pile of books we get from our local library each fortnight.
4. Use your child’s own language. For example, we talk about “God” in our house partly because, when he was 4, Jake asked who “God” is and the name has stuck. (You can read about that conversation here). I personally have a very non-traditional view of God and would probably choose a different name but the idea is to help our children access their own spirituality, and I don’t think we need to get too hung up on the vocabulary used. As Shakespeare said “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.
5. Offer explanations appropriate to your child’s age and readiness, even if you feel it doesn’t give the full picture. As they get older, you’ll be able to discuss ideas in more detail. I keep things simple by asking myself, “what’s helpful for them now, in this situation?” And, actually, giving my boys simple explanations makes me wonder if I perhaps over-complicate things in my head. Maybe they are more simple than I think.
6. Get present and follow your intuition. Perhaps I should’ve written this first because, I find that, when I get fully present with my boys, the best thing to say seems to just come to me.
7. Let your children do most of the talking. As you know, I firmly believe that it is not up to us to shape our children’s spirituality but to help them explore it and discover the shape of their own (more on this here). Allowing them to talk helps them to come round to what’s true for them.
8. There are lots of great resources available for children and families that might provide topics or a structure for conversation, such as card decks or journals. I wrote a blog post for Kids Mind Body Spirit last year and they have an online shop which shows some of the resources available called Earth + Stars (not an affiliate).
9. Our conversations are to open our children’s minds rather than to tell them what to think, so we don’t need to be concerned about getting all the details “right”. Our spirituality is actually something we feel and experience more than it is something we believe and think. Talking requires us to create mental constructs to hang our understandings on but those mental constructs are not necessarily the truth itself, rather a way for our brains to access it.
10. “I don’t know” is a great answer. Our children are curious and want to understand the way life works but part of having faith is being at ease with not knowing it all.
We can talk about spirituality with our kids in the same way as we would any other topic. If you’ve been hesitant to talk more openly with your children about it, I hope these tips will help.
Much love to you and your little souls,
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