Children Lead the Search for Spiritual Truths
Just give them love and structure, then get out of the way, says author
BY: Nancy Haught
Religion News Service
Most parents have had the experience of being humbled by their children. Maybe it was the kid who saved his allowance for months to buy a coveted video game and then, almost out of the blue, gave the money to a homeless shelter. Or maybe it was the child who agonized all weekend over being cool enough to fit in and, come Monday morning, befriended a playground pariah.
These moments, which sometimes seem so out of character, may be glimpses into a child's true character, into what educator Marsha Sinetar calls "spiritual intelligence."
We are all born with it, she says, but many of us lose it on the road to adulthood. If we can learn to recognize it in our children, we may learn to nurture it in them and revive it in ourselves.
Sinetar, in her book "Spiritual Intelligence: What We Can Learn From the Early Awakening Child" (Orbis Books), defines spiritual intelligence as a "heightened awareness" that results in a range of virtues that many parents believe must be instilled in children: insight, intuition, creativity, compassion, strong moral conviction, inner authority, and an unwavering sense of vocation or purpose.
Sinetar believes that all children show signs of spiritual intelligence and its attendant virtues. But she argues that some exceptional children--she calls them "early awakeners"--are so consistent in their insights or behavior that adults refer to them as "little old souls" or remark that they are "wise beyond their years."
"Certain blessed children display such hunger for some sacred idea or truth burning within that they, or at least selected patterns of behavior, can be guides," she writes. "The young can show us how to express our own spiritual truths."