My son is 20 months old, and I wonder what to teach him about spirituality. How do you teach a toddler about God? Since my husband and I are undecided ourselves, is the best way to explore different religions and try to teach him values?
A: Dear Anita,
Teaching values and exploring different religions are a great way to begin your family's spiritual journey. I encourage you to read simple books to your son that are rich in spiritual meaning. You might find your own soul fed by these lovely messages. I love "Where Does God Live?" by Holly Bea.
Even as young as 20 months, we can catch a glimpse of what a child finds beautiful, relaxing, and comforting, which are at the core of spirituality. I believe that children come to us with a natural connection to spirit. By nurturing this part of our children-this open, joyful, expansive, imaginative connection-we allow them to maintain it. It's often a challenge to nurture a toddler's busy quest for exploration, but by supporting this quality, rather than hovering over him ready to jump in and fix things for him, you encourage his spirit. By respecting children's inner lives, we give them a life-long gift in a society that often dims kids' natural light.
Perhaps you and your partner can set aside some time to write down your "basic rules for living." These are your core beliefs about how you want to live your lives. Your list might include: being kind to others, setting a good example, telling the truth, helping those in need. Once you are clear on your basic structure for living, you can better model and emphasis those values for your son. Keep a journal and jot in it before going to bed or while sitting at a traffic light. This can help you can chronicle and reflect on this magnificent journey you are taking with your child.
Children have a magical, extraordinary sense of the spiritual. As a seven- year-old girl told me, "Sometimes I'll just be sitting there and a light will flash by me. It's not the sunlight, but more like spirit light. " So listen to what your son has to say. Honor his intuition for that is what will keep him connected to his inner wisdom.
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Begin rituals, celebrations, and traditions that will enrich all of you. Say bedtime prayers, and give thanks at mealtimes. A toddler naturally hooks into repetition and it suddenly becomes a ritual, so be conscious of your choices. Celebrate the ordinary surprises, a lost tooth, first haircut, and the fattest snowflake. Have fun, stay open to the moment and enjoy this sacred commitment to parenting.