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It’s a classic parenting situation. You visit a quaint little coffee shop for story time. Another mom or dad walks in and sits next to you while his or her child begins to play with yours. One of you, it doesn’t matter who, strikes up a conversation and after a few moments of small talk you begin to find many commonalities. By the end of the story, phone numbers are exchanged and play-dates arranged. We all know the thrill of finding a new friend on the desert island of parenting, especially if you are a stay-at-home parent who doesn’t get much adult interaction.

I have heard from numerous readers that frequently on a second or third play-date, a seemingly innocuous question is asked, “Where do you go to church?” Do you have a comfortable answer at the ready or do you share the experience of others, with unconventional spiritual beliefs, of awkward silence followed by a stumbling explanation of your world view? Do you live in an area where your New Age Spiritual Beliefs are readily accepted by people with more Traditional Religious Beliefs or do become flush with worry that you might be alienated and lose the potential future play-dates for your child?

Hopefully, this hasn’t been your experience and, instead, the people around you are accepting, full of love and tolerance – adept at embracing differences. But if you have been in this situation and you were met with trepidation, misunderstanding, or even fear that you might try to convert them “to the occult” – you are not alone. (This illustration, of course, should not be construed to indicate that you necessarily believe in anything that can be attributed to the occult, nor that there is anything wrong with it if you do; but only to show that sometimes beliefs outside of the mainstream are viewed as scary by traditionalists).

Here are some questions to ponder: Does it make you hesitate to be completely honest the next time you are asked about your beliefs in a new situation? Have you tried to find “work-arounds” that aren’t necessarily lies, but aren’t really true either? An example might be, “Well, we don’t really go to church” – without divulging that you don’t ascribe to traditional religion. Have you devised an answer that equates your beliefs to something more relatable for others? One such answer might be, “We believe something very similar to Buddhism,” although you aren’t exactly in line with it.

Do you just avoid the topic? Do you lie to avoid confrontation, or tell the whole truth knowing that if they choose to end a budding friendship over this they were not meant to be your friends anyway? Does it make a difference, even if you believe in living a “Christ-like” existence, if you admit that do not consider yourself to be a Christian (if that is the case)? Do you worry about the negative consequences others’ condemnation will have on your child? Are you careful not to judge others for their beliefs?

How do you balance teaching your child to be true to himself with the risk that if he talks about his spirituality the other child’s parents might discontinue outings, and what if the majority of people around you feel this way and it could directly impact his opportunity for friends? (A very real proposition in some parts of the world.)

I hope and believe when you show people Who You Really Are, most will appreciate and love you, regardless of your perceived differences. Really, there is no right or wrong way to handle this situation and I think it might be helpful to remember that Separation from other human beings, especially when it comes to beliefs, is a myth. Conversations with God stands to remind that We Are All One and all beliefs are just parallel pathways to love, peace and connectedness.

Spirituality is a very personal decision. You can be private about it and avoid outward confrontation, but that might cause an internal struggle. On the other hand, you can choose to be open, honest, and live without fear of other’s reactions. I can tell you from my own experiences in the Midwest (of the US) that this can be hard, although pure authenticity is what I desire.

Even readers of this online community have varied interpretations of the words God, Love, The Universe, The All, and/or The Source so there is obviously not going to be a single answer with which every person in the New Spirituality can answer these questions. In fact, many CwG readers use the other words in place of God.

My call to action, here and now, is for us to support each other with advice and recommendations in the comment section below. How would you handle this type of situation? What would you do if you were faced with someone from the traditional religions showing fear that you will corrupt them? How do you protect your child from being hurt as a result? How do you coach your child to know what parts of her beliefs and ideas to share and what parts to keep on reserve? Let’s have a brainstorming conversation!

As always, I send peace and love to your family!

(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities.  Her books are available at To contact Emily, please email her at

What specific word will spur a child to a life of discovery? What influence, person or otherwise, will cement the ideas by which a child will formulate his or her worldview? What subject in school will lead a child to be a “success?” By what standard do we measure success?

The meanings of questions change as we become more aware of our individual spiritual purpose, our reason for Being. Conversations with God encourages us to embrace a new way of measuring success. In the Old Cultural Story, success was measured by how much stuff you accumulated, often at the expense of another. Scarcity was used as a motivational factor and competition was encouraged.

In the New Spirituality, we learn that Our purpose is to recreate ourselves anew every day in the next grandest version of the greatest vision we ever held about ourselves. Instead of glorifying the scarcity and “do anything to get ahead” mentality, we come to understand that There is enough, Human beings do not have to struggle with each other to get what they want, and The wonderful ways to be are truthful, aware and responsible. In fact, Conversations with God even says that No human being is superior to another. And this is just a retelling of just a few of the core concepts from the CwG body of work.

I recently watched an enlightened young man, Logan LaPlante’s, TEDx University Talk about his ideas about home school education. You can watch it here:

Logan’s parents have allowed him, to a certain degree, to direct his own education based on his interests. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, his answer is simple: He wants to be happy.

He says adults ask the wrong questions. He is unsure what career he will pursue, although he is leaning toward designing outdoors sports and recreation equipment. He thinks focusing on what to be or do in the future is a mistake. He is, instead, choosing to focus on what to be and do now.  He believes that the only way to have a fulfilled life is to start by having a happy and fulfilled childhood. So he pursues his interests now, focusing on being happy and learning the things that are interesting. He calls this “hacking” his education.

While I watched, I couldn’t help but see similarities between his ideas about growing up, his education, and his ideas about the future and people on a spiritual path. (That’s not to say that I assume he has read CwG or would agree with its messages.) It shows that children, when allowed to have some self-direction will flourish; that once we remove the walls and restrictions their own ideas and creativity can flourish. This, contrary to old ideas, will not lead to uncontrolled hedonism, it actually leads to growth.

After watching Logan and really listening to what he had to say, I reevaluated my own approach to my daughter’s homeschooling. I noticed that I had gotten into a rut, and honestly, taken some of the fun out of our schooling because I felt pressure to get through and finish tasks. Logan’s enthusiasm, courage and innovative ideas inspired me. I have rededicated myself to giving her more control in directing her education because I know that she will enjoy, and thereby learn, more. It will also, allow her to Be Happy now, rather than waiting for her to become something in the future.

Children like Logan know the answers to the questions above about success, inspiration and discovery can be answered in many ways. They don’t have to be tied to how many good grades a child gets, if they get into certain colleges, or how much money they make. They can be about enjoyment, finding inspiration and value in things that make them happy, lead them to think, and give them a reason to feel passionate about a subject.

Thank you for the pep talk, Logan!

(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities.  Her books are available at To contact Emily, please email her at

My animal survival instinct and my human ego tell me that my life (and the safety of my family) is more important than yours – but my soul tells me that it is not.

There, I’ve said it. Is that raw enough? Doesn’t that really sum up the reason that we consider going to war? That we kill each other in the streets? That we continue to fight over food, economic policies…over anything?

If you have read my previous articles, you know I usually approach parenting as it pertains to my young daughter. Well, during the recent crisis in Syria, I have had many discussions with my spiritual, peace-loving, twenty-year-old nephew. One struck me as odd and we played it out until the wee hours of the morning. He, like me and so many spiritual people, has been praying intently for a peaceful, non-violent resolution to the Syrian situation. He has visceral reactions at the thought of us intervening in another country with even targeted attacks; and he is adamant in his agreement that violence would beget more violence.

On this night, we discussed our shared feelings that no “collateral damage” is acceptable, as well as our wish that there was a way to break the cycle of war to end tyranny. We talked about how past acts, like what is going on in Syria, that have gone unchecked by the international community have come back to haunt the world when they became mass genocide later. But we both, again, stated wishes that we lived in a world where there were other viable answers than more violence. We acknowledged that there are no easy answers and stated that we didn’t envy any of the leaders and their decisions at this time; especially given the thought about retaliation if our government did decide to act with strikes.

And that’s when he surprised me.

As the conversation turned toward the long-term effects of waging violence against others and what happens when we continue to anger the rest of the world with our interventions and potentially have aggression toward our own soil, his demeanor and attitude changed. He is all about peace until he feels his own safety and security threatened. He almost became hawkish as he talked about protecting our soil at all costs. I gently began asking him questions, trying (mindfully) not to make his opinions wrong, about where he draws a line of difference.  He stated that this is “our land” and “our people” and so we must protect them.

I asked him what border makes it “ours.”  Is it our lawn? Our street? Our state? Our country? Our continent or hemisphere? I even posited that, within my understanding of “We Are All One” from Conversations with God, to me, “our” includes every human on earth as an equal and undivided part of me. With this in mind, we either love and protect, to the extent possible, every person on earth equally or we give up that façade and we try a different approach.

See, like most of you, I don’t know the answers to these burning questions. I don’t know how to end violence in the world. I hope and believe that the spiritual and prayerful push of the last week and a half had an effect on John Kerry’s off-hand remark, the Russian encouragement, and the Syrian apparent acquiescence to a possible chemical disarmament (try to say that 10 times fast).

But I cannot walk around feeling that American lives are superior and deserve to be protected above other lives. I cannot, as much as I love my daughter, my nephew, and my husband, carry a gun to protect them at the cost of killing another person. I just cannot value one life over another. I haven’t fully decided where self-defense fits in with spirituality (although I have been confronted with situations in which I knew I would not kill to protect myself), but we have to start somewhere to shift the paradigm away from violence. Someone has to be willing to “put the weapons down” and talk…

…And intelligence and diplomacy have to stop looking like weakness.

In the end, I may not have changed my nephew’s mind about protecting “us” at all costs. But I am hoping that on some level I have helped him to begin exploring a new level of the concept, understanding, and application of “We Are All One.”

What conversations have you had with your young ones about the conflict between violence and love?

(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities.  Her books are available at To contact Emily, please email her at

I just finished watching the 2011 documentary, Happy. It examines the happiness levels of people across many different cultures: from the slums of India, to the bush of Africa, to the beaches of Brazil, to the city streets of industrialized world. Along the way, it seems to discover that feeling gratitude, compassion, connection to others, responsibility toward the earth and helping others are some main ingredients to happiness. This film was rich with ideas that can apply to parenting in the New Spirituality, and I thought I would touch on a couple of them here to open our minds and hearts a little to help our children find their own internal happiness.

By the end of the movie, you are left with a clear sense that happiness comes through your decisions in both your actions and the thoughts you hold about your life. The Conversations with God core concept “We are all one” fits well with their ideas. When we allow ourselves to feel our connectedness and realize that what we do for another, we do for ourselves, we can feel spiritual fulfillment on a profound level.

One of the stories in the documentary was about a woman who was involved in a terrible accident. She had overcome so many obstacles in healing from her disfiguring injuries and even stated that she felt she had a happier life after the accident than before. She had found new meaning in her life and was now helping other people. She could have looked at her 30 reconstructive surgeries and shut down, caught up in the unfairness of it all, but instead she chose to create her own positive experience of the situation. She chose to live each day with renewed purpose and gratitude. She is a great example of how one can “create your own reality” (a core concept from Conversations with God).

In watching the film with my daughter and twenty-year-old nephew, I was thinking about ways we could re-dedicate ourselves to these concepts in our life. They discussed the influence society has on how happy we feel and the role that popular culture plays in making us feel inadequate. As parents, if we can instill in our children an ability to find fulfillment within, the external influences will have less effect on their happiness. The documentary proposed a few ideas to increase our internal happiness which are probably not new to you, but bear repeating:

1. They cited a study which shows that meditation (specifically a meditation about compassion) changes the structure of the brain.

2. Writing down five things for which you are grateful once per week increases happiness.

3. Showing kindness to others increases your happiness.

Adding just one of these activities to your life can make great changes in how you (and your children) feel! An easy way to begin is to start with the gratitude list or journal (something we have talked about before in this column). Just ask your child, “What made you happy today?” And help him or her write it down! For smaller children, this can be drawing pictures.  For older children, it can be more involved using the word gratitude.

However you approach it, just know that you are giving your child an irreplaceable gift: The gift of happiness!

(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities.  Her books are available at To contact Emily, please email her at

I was listening to the song Imagine, by John Lennon, a few days ago. It was the first time I had played it for my daughter, and the first time I had actively listened to the song in years. It brought me to tears to hear it through her ears.

At first I was sad to think about how long ago he wrote it and the little progress we have made in our quest for peace.

And then I looked into my daughter’s eyes and I thought of the hope of the new generation. I thought of all of the children coming up today who are more aware of global concerns; younger than they have ever been in previous generations. I thought of the child who wrote Vice President Biden asking if guns could shoot chocolate. I thought of Malala Yousufzai who was shot in the face for having the audacity of being a girl who wanted an education, and as soon as she was able to sit up in her hospital bed, began doing her studies again. I thought of any number of the children I see in my community who talk about recycling, the environment, who accept others without judgment, and who spread love.

One of the core messages of Conversations with God is, “The purpose of life is to recreate yourself anew in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever you held about Who You Are.” In other words, each day is a chance to dream a new dream.

In reflecting on the song, I’ve rededicated myself to helping us both to imagine our roles in bringing about a kinder world; because I believe we can change the world.

We are changing the world. The world is changing through the love and energy of “living life in peace.” Peace is attainable. Like ripples in the water, each child we teach to dream of peace and love brings it one step closer. What can you do to teach your child about peace today?

“You may say I’m a dreamer….I hope someday you will join me.” Through collective dreaming, we can change the world.

Peace and Love,


(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities.  Her books are available at To contact Emily, please email her at

Until now, I’ve avoided writing here about the mass shootings, the bombing, the natural disasters, and other recent tragedies in the world. I thought I would leave them to those who know what to say better than I. Today, I am moved to speak.

Much, I am sure, like you, my heart breaks when I hear of disasters. As a person, who feels the Conversations with God concept We Are All One to my core, I experience the loss of life as if those people are my own neighbors, people I know, not as nameless or faceless strangers. I weep for the people who are hurt or killed, their families and for society at large.

I do not feel more or less devastated when the tragedy is man-made or natural because I do not value any life more than another. While I sometimes wish we would find positive ways to prevent the “senseless” or “preventable” ones; I don’t think that changes their effect on society or their import. Times are tumultuous enough with all of the political and ideological unrest; another disaster, natural or otherwise, just seems like fuel on the fire of an already tense environment. Yet there will be those that want to capitalize on it for political or emotional points, who will make calls for banding together for the common good (a wonderful sentiment) but will forget those calls as soon as the dust settles and will be back to fighting again.

But how does all of this affect parenting? How does a person living in the New Spirituality handle discussions of tragedy in a home where children are present? I don’t have any answers for you, sorry! But maybe my ideas will help you brainstorm how you can deal with it in your own family. Remember: There is no such thing as right and wrong.

Honestly, my ideas about this are evolving as my daughter gets older. When she was very small (as in, a baby and couldn’t understand anything!) I thought I would always be honest with her – don’t sugarcoat, show her the world as it is, teach her how to process it – so that she will be equipped to handle it without being derailed.

Then as her personality became apparent my thoughts changed. She is very loving, sensitive and takes things seriously; she internalizes external events more than I would hope for her. So I backed off, became more protective of her knowledge and began to show her the selective truth about tragedy. Shielding her from the more gruesome, gory details, and in some cases (the Newtown Shootings, specifically) not telling her about them at all until days later. But recently, as she is becoming, simultaneously, more self-aware and more conscious of world events I am having a harder time insulating her completely.

I’m not surprised by change; I expect that, what I am surprised by is how difficult it is to walk the tight rope of information-giving. Do you have this same challenge with your child? Children are inquisitive and they want to know what is going on in the world around them; yet they also want to feel safe and sheltered.

My fear…I admit it even though I know Love is all there is, I still experience fear from time to time…my fear or trepidation is that it is all so confusing for adults, how are children going to process it? And what can we, as parents, do to help them? There is a wonderful quote by Mr. Rogers about finding the helpers in times of tragedy to help children focus on the positive. There is probably merit in that, but how can we further help our children to assuage their feelings of insecurity after something bad happens?

I don’t know. My daughter slept with us last night due to the storms that came through Missouri after she heard a little bit about the Oklahoma tornado. She just could not sleep otherwise. I guess in that moment, she felt insecure alone. After the Boston bombings – we tried to insulate her as much as possible but you would have had to go “radio silent” for 3 weeks to have avoided all discussions – she questioned me constantly in public places about how you would know if someone had a bomb. I did everything I could to reassure her that while we never know what will happen next mommy will always protect her to the best of my ability.

We talk a lot about how life is unexpected and that We create our own reality means, not that we can control what happens around us, but that we can control how we live in, how we interpret, and how we let events affect us. I don’t know that I am doing it “right” for her, only time will tell. All I know is that I am answering her every question with love and as much honesty as I can. I hold her tight and I try to calm her fears. I spend my days trying to fill her life with exploration, beauty, light, nature and connection to others. The rest, how she interprets the world internally, is up to her, as it is with every human being!

My wish today is for peace and healing to come to those in Oklahoma. That people there feel the light and love of us all as they go through these next few days.


(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities.  Her books are available at To contact Emily, please email her at

Have you ever watched a young child look in the mirror? They are mesmerized with what they see! They make goofy faces, smile and giggle…but you do not see them looking at themselves with criticism or derision. You don’t hear many four-year-olds say “my nose is too big” or “my eyes are too narrow.” Children do not learn these concepts until other people teach them to feel that way about themselves.

In recent years, the cosmetic company, Dove, has embarked on a “Social Mission” to increase the self-esteem of females. As part of this larger mission, they recently conducted a campaign called “Real Beauty Sketches.” The basic idea was that they surreptitiously paired strangers for a brief time and then had each person sit with a forensic sketch artist to create drawings of one of the participants. The drawings that resulted from the self-descriptions were much more critical — and far less accurate — than the descriptions given by the strangers, even though they had only met for a brief period. I wonder what this says about us, as a species, that others see us more clearly than we see ourselves.

Before proceeding, I feel two things bear clarification: first, I wish Dove would include boys; it is just as important for them to value themselves as girls. Second, I feel the point is not to focus on physical beauty as a status symbol or that there is some arbitrary level of perfection to which to aspire. My point is that every human being, no matter the gender, color, size, shape, ethnicity, and/or level of perfection based on societal standards, is perfect and should feel perfect when looking in the mirror. Every child deserves to love what he or she sees in him or her SELF.

So what can we, as parents, do about it? We can put our children in a bubble until they turn 18 so that society never teaches them negative stories about themselves! Oh wait, that won’t work? Darn! Hmm. You really want to make me think on this one then, don’t you?

I have, personally, tried to limit my own negative self-talk in front of my child because I know that she is learning how to view herself through how she understands my view of myself. But I think that is only part of the puzzle.

What we can do is apply the principles of Conversations with God to our interactions with our children in a way which will help them to grow up confident and secure in their inner beauty, their inner connection to God, and their inner knowing of their value and place in the Universe. My goal would be to help children to know that they do not have to internalize the ideas others have about them. Some concepts that may be helpful are:

We are all one – This might help your child to overcome feelings of pain if other children taunt or ostracize him or her for being, looking, or sounding different. Remembering that you are connected to the All, even in the face of others being mean to you, can help you to feel that you are not alone.

Love is all there is – Remembering to love yourself, even when others are not showing you love is huge in remembering your perfection. It is also helpful if you can, in the face of being hurt by someone, be love back to them instead of reacting back in meanness. It helps you stop the cycle of meanness. You may even change their mind about how to treat someone! And there is nothing more beautiful to anyone than love shining through.

No human beings are better than other human beings – This concept is typically used on the context of the fallacies of life and how human try to separate themselves from each other, finding reasons to produce conflict, killing and war. However, I find that it is applicable here because to assess beauty in societal terms is to classify some as better than others. If we can teach children from a young age that differences in facial or body features do not equate to better or worse, they just mean different, then children will not judge their own beauty according to the standards of others. Instead, they will see their beauty as inherent, internal and all-encompassing.

Children come into this world feeling love, promise and open to possibilities. They only learn about limits from what they are told and experience. We can help them learn to overcome society’s limits by fostering a deep sense of self-love and connection to God from a young age.

Hopefully, through these small efforts we can help our children to see the beauty we see in them, long into adulthood!

(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities.  Her books are available at To contact Emily, please email her at

Extra! Extra! Read all about it…Love Is All There Is and There Is Enough!

Let’s see if these two concepts can be combined into: There Is Enough Love For Everyone! Society teaches competition at every level, including love. Children are even taught, through concepts like sibling rivalry, that: parental love is limited, will be rationed, and is something for which to be fought.

My family recently experienced this, on a smaller scale, as my brother and sister-in-law brought a beautiful son into the world. Many people asked if my daughter was jealous of how excited the extended family was about the new baby. My answer was, “No! Why would she be?” The response: “Well, grandma’s attention will be divided.” Divided attention does not have to equate to hurting either person. In actuality, because of how we have exemplified love in our home as limitless, unconditional, and all-powerful – feeling jealous of a new baby, for whom she was so excited to meet and shower love upon herself – has never crossed her mind.

I think there are two possible ways to look at love: If you teach your children that when you have more people to love, the power of it is multiplied and there is more to go around, children will see love as limitless. They will not fear the addition of new people to their families. They will embrace them as adding new color, joy, and adventure to their life; rather than fearing that the new person can take something away from them.  If, on the other hand, you teach your child that love is conditional, in short supply, or finite, then your child will feel threatened by new additions to their life.

While holidays may be different, get-togethers changed, and the attention of family members shared, it doesn’t have to be viewed in a negative light. As with everything else, how we chose to interpret the world influences our experience. We can help children look to the added richness of having a new baby in the family, the times they will share together, the excitement they have of getting to give love to another human, and of having the chance to teach what they know to someone new!

Instead of children walking through life feeling afraid of “who will grandma/mom/dad love more?” you can instill a feeling of peace that children have nothing to fear!  My question to you, then, is, “Why does it have to be one or the other?” Why can’t we choose to teach our children that grandma can love all of her grandchildren equally? Why does one new cousin/sibling being born have to mean that the other child’s life is going to change for the worse? Can we create a world in which a child being born into a family is assumed to add beauty and love to the lives of the existing children rather than to add stress, strife, and jealousy?

Imagine the change society would experience if this generation of children grew up experiencing a world in which we don’t have to compete for the love of our families! They might just cooperate and enjoy the companionship of their siblings and cousins instead.

Imagine if that enlarged into children who didn’t feel the need to compete with each other for friendships! They might just find they can cooperate and enjoy friendship and camaraderie with all of their classmates.

Imagine a world, in which, instead of competing with each other to the point of backstabbing and undercutting to get “ahead,” children grow up understanding that cooperation, companionship, and assisting each other to move forward together helps us all in the end!

Again, I ask you…Why does it have to be one or the other? Isn’t it time we truly teach our children: There is enough love for everyone?



(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities.  Her books are available at To contact Emily, please email her at

This week my goal has been to write the next lesson for the School of the New Spirituality’s website The Conversations with God concept I’ve had in mind is “Every act is an act of self-definition.” Little did I know that I would have the opportunity to experience this very concept in real time… well, I guess I should have expected the Universe (by the “Universe” I understand I am saying myself) to present me with an instance of that which I write, as often happens when I am writing about…well…anything! But seriously, Self, did it have to coincide with the U.S. gun debate?  A matter which I had most definitely decided against writing about? Ah, therein lies the rub! I had avoided the topic, so I, and the Universe, made sure I had to confront my own fears and feelings about it to be sure I understood. Well played, my friend. Well played.

Please keep in mind as you proceed that while you are about to read my story, it could easily be anyone’s story. And while how I handled myself, in this particular situation, may have worked for me in the moment, it may not work in every moment. So I invite you, as you read the story, to ask yourself: How would I wish to define myself, if I were ever to be in a similar situation, with my child?

I am always cautious and aware of my surroundings but try not to be overly concerned about safety as I am a pretty optimistic, love-seeing person. But my safety instincts are on higher alert when my daughter is along. She and I were walking to our car in a part of town which I would not classify as either overly dangerous or overly safe, when a young male began to stalk us like a lion would stalk its prey. I noticed his odd behavior immediately, but the fact that he didn’t strike while we were out of our car indicated to me that he hadn’t yet committed to his course of action. Still it was also obvious his intention wasn’t to say an innocuous, “Hi! How’re ya doing?” Of course, if he asked me for my purse and the keys to my car before we had gotten inside, he could have had them!

Anyway, once inside the car, I watched as he prowled and paced, casing the area checking out his chances with both, us and the surrounding parked cars – looking in windows and watching us; assessing, I guess for vulnerability, belongings, etc. Beyond my intuition of interpreting his movements, it is hard to describe what was happening other than that he was acting aggressively, making a clear show that he had control of the exit of the one-way street. He was erratically crossing back and forth in front of my car and using threatening body language. I sat calmly for a few moments, remembering that fear would only feed a potential power struggle and tried to keep my wits about me; calling upon my inner knowing for guidance. I couldn’t really turn the car around because the street was too narrow. I also didn’t feel I could reverse the car up to the previous block. I knew the best way out was to proceed forward, cautiously. I took a deep breath and made a call on my cell phone because I figured that would accomplish a couple of things: Making an obvious show of being on the phone would establish a “witness” of sorts and might make him think twice before acting; especially since he already seemed in conflict with himself. I also thought it would help me to convey confidence, without being overly confrontational, that I was getting myself and my daughter out of there safely. In retrospect, it might have been smarter to call the police, but I called my mom…sorry, Mom!

So, as I pulled slowly away from the curb, he made a show of jogging away, and as I suspected, was waiting for me as I turned the corner into the alley (the only exit from the street), blocking the way, with his hands on his hips. I looked at him – straight in the eyes – and slowly but confidently kept driving, talking animatedly on the phone, all the while repeating in my mind, “We are safe.” He was, by this time between five and ten feet in front of me and I guess he felt it was time to make a decision. He nodded his head to me, stepped aside and let me pass, at which time I sped away! The whole incident probably lasted for only three minutes.

I cannot be sure what he intended. I cannot be sure if it was my confidence and love in the face of his indecisiveness that stopped him or if he was just playing a game and trying to scare me. Maybe my daughter’s light surrounded us, an angel was in the front seat with me, a host of other possibilities, or all of the above could have affected the outcome. I just don’t know. All I know is that we left safely. I didn’t have to threaten violence. I didn’t have to pull a gun. I did have the luxury of a car around me as a measure of protection and I could have driven fast if I had to. But even in that moment when I thought, “Oh, I understand what it means to be willing to do anything to protect your child, including driving my car over another human being,” I still asked myself: “Who is to say our lives are more important than his?”

In the following days, a number of people who know my long-standing feelings about guns have said, “I bet you feel differently now! When are you going to go buy a gun?” My answer is the same as it has always been, but maybe even a little stronger. “No, I am not going to buy a gun.”

In the short moments of the event, I saw two scenarios lay out before me. I saw one in which, if I had different beliefs about the world, I could have flashed a gun (one I didn’t actually have, mind you) to show him who was the boss…in this imaginary scenario I could say I have the power and am not to be messed with! And then in that imaginary scenario, I saw it escalate faster than you can spell G-U-N. I saw him pull one faster than I could fire mine (or take mine from me) and I saw my daughter and me shot, bloodied, and dead.   And I saw my husband flying home from his business trip to plan/attend our funerals because I stupidly flashed a gun I was not really prepared to use.

And then, in the other scenario, the one with the act I chose, and still choose, to define me, I chose love, compassion, and careful thought to understand that this was a conflicted kid who saw a possible opportunity and, maybe, needed a way out. I gave him that out by being confident, assertive, and non-threatening. I didn’t challenge him to a duel, but looked him straight in the eye, and conveyed with strength and love (of life, my daughter, and yes, even of him), “You don’t want to do this!”

I am so grateful for our safety. I am grateful that I, in some way, prevented him from that single act. And I pray that he thinks of that moment before he enters into the next act that defines him.

How will you choose to allow your next acts to define who you are? How will you illustrate how every act is an act of self-definition to your child?


(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities.  Her books are available at To contact Emily, please email her at

Do you ever feel like parenting in the New Spirituality is a little bit like flapping in the wind?  I mean, in Conversations with God, God threw out all the rules and told us how we can truly live!  The new constructs can read more like feel-good, motivational phrases than concepts:

We are all one!

God talks to everyone, all the time!

There’s no such thing as right and wrong!

There’s nothing you have to!

It would be understandable if you sometimes felt a little lost and without direction in your parenting.  Within these concepts, if you are ready to receive it, is a wealth of loving guidance on how to parent your children.   Simply start with an open heart and a willingness to connect with God, and the knowledge will follow.  That might even be how you came to this online newspaper, yes?  God, the Universe, Life, The All, whatever name you give to your experience of that thing that defines That Which Is, facilitates everything you need.  May I suggest a starting place, a custom from which you may wish to consider all of your parenting decisions?   Consistency.

Consistency is a useful habit to adopt in all of your life.  One of the Core Concepts of CwG says, “The Three Basic Principles of Life are Functionality, Adaptability, and Sustainability.”   To simplify, the idea is that you assess your actions to see if they are “working” as a demonstration of who you envision yourself to be (functionality).  If not, you adjust your actions to make them “work” (adaptability).  Then you maintain your new course for as long as it continues to “work” for you (sustainability); always with an eye toward reassessing functionality — and starting the process over again and again.  Even within this concept there is a beautiful consistency:  By acknowledging that we can change our minds about something, and that we are constantly evolving, we have the ability to take action because of it.

Consistency in your parenting is hard to pin down. It can be as simple as choosing which words you will use or forgo in your household – good, bad, nice, love, hate, etc. — and sticking to it.  It can involve your child’s behaviors.  Do you expect certain behaviors in some situations and other behaviors in other situations without explanation?  Does your child even know what to expect from you? It can involve the types of foods you bring in to your family and how you present them.  Are foods treated differently at times?  Are they sometimes readily available, sometimes special treats, sometimes rewards, and other times off-limits?  How about interactions with others? Do your children see you speak one way to another person and a different way about the same person when he or she isn’t in the room?

Children get confused by mixed messages, but they are not necessarily confused by change; these are two different things.  A mixed message is when your current actions and words do not agree; while change occurs when your prior and current/future actions are not the same.  You can explain change in a way which would make sense to a child: “XYZ happened, so we changed course.”  But it is harder to explain a mixed message:  “I know I said let’s be nice to people, but I know you saw me be mean to another person.”

Children can even handle different expectations or requests based on different situations if they are explained ahead of time.  For instance, most children quickly understand the concept of inside versus outside voices and would not use the same voice, routinely, in a restaurant that they do on the playground.  So they begin to understand that there is some internal consistency to a type of situation and that there can be varied consistency across different types of situations.  They can even begin to interpret those situations for themselves through your guidance and example.

One of your most important roles as a parent, if there is any to be had, is to help your child feel that their world is stable, that they can know what to expect and that their parent(s) are there for them. Consistency can be crucial, then, for children to be able to trust your words and actions so that they will know that you are truly there for them to buffer and help them interpret the world.  Then your children will not feel like they are flapping in the wind.

(Emily A. Filmore is the Creative Co-Director of She is also the author/illustrator of the “With My Child” Series of books about bonding with your child through everyday activities.  Her books are available at To contact Emily, please email her at