Posted by: coachingparents | November 30, 2007

Nurturing Children’s Spirit

Did you ever wonder about our spiritual nature? Is it inherent? Do we learn it? How do we ever develop a sense of something greater than ourselves that we eventually call God by so many different names. Is God intangible? Concrete? The mysteries of life, and the vast array of universe above us, make us pause and respect the unknown.

For purposes of this article, think of spirituality in its basic sense as connecting and finding the meaning and direction in our lives. Our sense of belonging starts early and matures as we grow older into the value of our relationships. A life with a spiritual focus can mean living with awareness of the choices we make and their consequences.

Feeling Connected
For infants, connecting comes from touch and a loving bond with a primary caretaker.

In the developing embryo, a primitive layer of cells called the Ectoderm produces both the skin and the nervous system. In this concrete physiological connection, the experience of touch and of moving bodies through space, provides “food” to the nervous system that allows the human being to experience that it exists. What remarkable genius is there in an organism’s capacity, through simple physical contact and movement, to create a network of chemical, neurological and automatic responses that ensure its capacity to connect.

It is crucial for the developing infant to experience the bonding, movement and soothing words of his or her parents. Without this foundation, how will a child know spirit? There would be no descriptors for feelings and no ability to discriminate the feelings. The body learns to feel through touch. The infant learns to attend by focusing on the sounds of the mother and the eyes of the father. In short, the child knows himself through the sensory communication of the caregiver.

This is the foundation for feeling connected.

Valuing Connection
Children first value their connections in the context of family. We value a child in so many ways, from our smiles throughout the day to the appreciation we speak. This is most important: How we value children and “recognize or honor” them provides their models for how they will recognize and value God as they mature.

The quality of our relationships and interactions with our children impact their physiology and lay the foundation for qualities essential to success in life.

For youngsters, connecting to earth, siblings and other adults expands a child’s world and helps develop boundaries and communication. For adolescents, connections with compassionate and firm communication are still of utmost importance. Finding the deeper answers to the questions of life is important for identity at this age. And as adults, our connection is tethered to our beliefs, our faith and our heart.

Connecting develops and matures in our relationship to one another.

Respecting the Mystery
Children ask early in life about the mystery. Where did my dog go when he died? Why is grandpa in heaven? Can I touch the stars? When can I see Santa Claus? Why did he hurt her? Why did those people crash a plane into those buildings on TV?

Children feel the mystery of life cycles, and they watch the way things change around them. They trust intuitively the mystery exists, and they can imbibe of it through their senses when the wind blows the pollen that tickles their nose and the clouds change endlessly in a vast sky. Situations change, and how children accept change depends upon their feeling of connection.

Sometimes so much change happens that children may feel that “something” out there is taking care of them. They survived. They develop a faith in the mystery.

As we grow older, we may still have that childlike faith the Universe takes care of us. Or we mature into a relationship with ourselves, knowing that we are the universes, and that God acts through the human branch of the Universal expression. With maturity, life changes become personal transformations. Survival becomes a triumph, and still, a mystery.

Connecting to the Mystery
In May of 1995, my husband, Tom, and I brought a Bouvier puppy across the Plains with us as we moved from New Hampshire to our new home in Colorado. The first soft snow fell in September and the six-month old puppy chased the flakes. He stood on his tiptoes and turned in circles to catch one. A three-year old who was visiting us watched the dog with glee. He also stood on his tiptoes and turned in circles mirroring the puppy.

Another family makes time each morning when they feel most rushed to stop. They form a circle and hold hands. They each affirm their gratitude about their lives before moving on to their schools and jobs.

In compassionate communication, a parent still touches the shoulder of a teen and shows respect for their connection.

Connecting is human. It is spiritual. It is our mystery to relish and respect with one another.

Copyright © Caron B. Goode. All rights reserved.

About The Author …
Caron Goode’s (EdD) insights are drawn from her fifteen years in private psychotherapy practice and thirty years of experience in the fields of education, personal empowerment, and health and wellness. She is the author of eight books and the founder of the Academy for Coaching Parents, a training program for parents & professionals who wish to mentor other parents. A mom and step-mom, she and her husband live in Whitney, Texas.


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