The COVID19 quarantine, while a humbling and worrisome period, does have its own silver lining. It has freed up much of our time and given us quality time to spend with our family. Earlier parents and children barely had the opportunity to interact beyond the dinner table, as the day was filled with activities and chores. Now we have been given the golden opportunity to participate in our children’s lives with a full heart and mind.
Every parent wants to raise a responsible and independent child. But these qualities are undermined if there is lacking of introspect and faith. With a keen sense of spirituality comes responsibility and the ability to distinguish right from wrong. Kids are not particularly interested in spirituality. So how do you instil in them the importance of being spiritually aware? This is a worldwide concern of parents, across all religions, and it takes a lot of patience to do it. So now that you have time on your hands, we are going to tell you how you can introduce your children to spirituality in a smooth and easy way.
Clarity on your Faith
First you need to clarify to yourselves about the line of faith you have. You might belong to multi-disciplinary household with exposure to different religions and lines of faiths. But this can become a strain on the kids when thrust upon them all at once. Figure out first how and what you want to expose your children to at each point of their lives. You don’t want each member of the family reach out to them differently and end up with ambiguous ideologies. The kids should not begin to raise concerns that the adults are contradicting each other. This will make them lose interest as it is something they find difficult to understand. So be clear on where you stand and how deep you are willing to invest in your faith.
Feed their Curiosity
Let the conversations about religion and spirituality be open ended. Preaching does not and never will work on children. It only makes them feign interest, while being distracted by the million other attractions around them. Children, especially the younger ones are naturally curious and eager to learn new things. So gently introduce them to the concept of a higher power and they will ask their own questions. When answering the questions do not get impatient with them. Each and every question deserves an answer. When this curiosity is left unattended they begin to lose interest. So keep them constantly curious to know more.
The Younger the better
Like we mentioned before, young children like toddlers are still at wonder at the world about them. Older children have likely formed their opinions on things they see and hear. They are also less responsive to new things, especially sensitive topics like spirituality. You cannot pull a kid out of play time to sit through a Puja and expect them to be happy. But young children are impressionable and you can better instil the idea of participating in rituals and pujas. A trip to just about anywhere is exciting for a toddler and by exposing them to religious and spiritual places early on, they will become accustomed to them as part of their regular lives. Spirituality will become subconsciously ingrained in their minds.
It’s Ok to not know things
Its implicit that we don’t have the answers to everything. Do not ever pretend to your children that you are always right and have the solutions and answers to everything. Children are surprisingly more perceptive than adults. They are bound to have questions on spirituality and religion that you would never even have imagined about. Don’t try to fake answers and force your ideology on them. It is ok to not know all the answers and admit the same to the kids. But take a genuine effort to find out the correct and logical answers. Initiate the conversation with your children again and tell them you have found the answers for them.
Point out the Spirituality around you
The whole world is an example of spirituality. Try to point out the miracles that happen around them. Just the day dawning on us is an example of God’s beautiful design for life. The life we live and the things that happen around us is an easy and opportune way to impact upon the presence of spirituality and divinity. Nature is God’s gift to us and we need to treat it so. If you have planted a seed and it starts giving out shoots, point out the divine energy that is making the plant come to life. The busy plethora of nature that surrounds us would not be possible without a higher power driving it.
Teach them to be Grateful
Teach them gratitude. The lives we live and take for granted is a dream for many. There is a whole other world out there where the people are struggling to meet their needs. Teach the children to be grateful for the beautiful lives they lead, for the food they eat, the home that shelters them, for you who protects them. A simple Thank you directed at God while waking up and before going to bed can go a long way in teaching them spirituality. The very notion that there is a higher power that is responsible for their lives will make them more answerable. They tend to try to be as good as possible to be at peace with the divinity watching over them.
Participate in tradition
From an early age make it a point to include the children in everyday Pujas, rituals or prayers. Give them simple tasks to do like bringing flowers from the garden, decorating the altar, sing simple songs in praise of the Gods etc. This will make them feel that they are a valued member of the family and also inspire them to be spiritual. It will soon develop into a habit for them. Tell them stories from the scriptures. Entice them to read more about their faith. Tell them the story behind each and every idol and ritual. Explaining why we do things, incentivises them to participate instead of blindly following traditions. Make it fun for them with dressing up, songs, dance, cooking etc all thrown in together for a wholesome experience. Find out their favourite festival and make it extra special for them.
Bring all this into practise every single day till it becomes second nature to them. The more they learn and more they learn to question, the stronger their faith becomes. Spark their curiosity and nurture the need for exploration. Do not put down any faith or religion as inferior to your own. Instead teach them to glean the good from all faiths and live a righteous and just life. This process while a learning experience for the kids, can become a fun learning experience for you too. You might find your yesteryear doubts on spirituality being clarified in your quest for answers to their questions. A Spiritual mind is a healthy mind. We invite you to share interesting stories on how you teach your children spirituality on the comments section.