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Living a conscious life is interesting!  Because you are more aware of life as it unfolds, you get the opportunity to really know yourself, your life partner, your children and the other family members around you.  It can also be a little bit of a contradiction of terms because while you notice more about your surroundings and the actions of others, you may, at the same time, choose not to react to those things in the typical fashion.  For instance, you may consciously decide to take fewer things personally, let the more trivial things go (like toothpaste dripped on the counter, laundry that doesn’t make it into the hamper, and coats that do not make it onto the hook), and work harder to find the positives in difficult situations.  In other words, if you are living in the moment, you may make New Day’s Resolutions every day, so New Year’s Resolutions might seem silly to you.  Instead, let’s talk about making New Day’s Resolutions.

How can this be applied to parenting? In the past few years, I began a silent, private practice. I re-resolve every morning to be grateful; to be patient, kind and loving to the people I encounter, especially to my husband and child. I re-commit myself every morning to be consistent with Who I Really Am.  I wonder if helping your child to feel these gifts of yourself, and to develop the ability to roll with the changes of life, may be the biggest gifts you can give.

Would you like a small example of this in action?  The next time you are about to walk out the door and your child spills the proverbial glass of milk, you can respond with a smile and say, “Oh, sweetie, I know you must really feel sorry that you spilled it, and I am sorry that you did as well, but you know we don’t get upset about spills in this house.  We just clean them up, together!  Now let’s get to work so we can get on our way!”  Not only will you illustrate compassion and respect, but sharing the clean-up responsibility helps your children know that you are always there for them, even when the day is rough.  These types of gentle interactions can be applied in any situation, at any time, if only you take a moment and breathe before you speak.  Think before you react.

Teaching your children to treat others in the same way will help them remember Who They Really Are.  Adopting a morning practice of introspection and setting your individual intentions for the day may be beneficial.  At first you may want to do it as a family, taking a moment in the morning as you wake up together.  You can talk about what each of you wish to commit to for that day, whether it is treating others with love or respect or gratitude…eventually your children may wish to do their own practice.  Whether you continue together or on your own, I think you will find daily “New Day’s Resolutions” to be much more effective, and more long-lasting, than any New Year’s Resolution.

Wishing you peace, love and joy in the coming year!

(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

How do you feel about the gift-buying season? Do you feel a conflict between a wish to shower your child with presents and your desire to be spiritual? Does that necessarily mean eschewing an abundant holiday? Can you find a balance between the two?  Many of us enjoy shopping for our children; and while we are inundated with ads and sales enticing us to spend without limit, we may start to question how buying presents, heaped upon presents, fits in with The New Spirituality.

 As someone who relishes giving gifts, this is a question I have thought about at length. So while I don’t have the answer for you,God just might. Conversations with God makes clear that money, creature comforts, and, yes, even material objects are meant to be enjoyed, not feared or avoided. In the Old Cultural Story, we were convinced that “virtuous” living meant going without. There was great honor bestowed for doing what you loved and expecting little pay in return; why else would the helping professions require higher levels of education yet pay lower wages than, say, the sports or entertainment industry?  It is only because we have tolerated it being that way.

Conversations with God disagrees.  No “virtue” is gained by denying yourself valuable pay for doing important work about which you feel passionate. Similarly, you don’t have to deny your children abundance in order to curry favor with God; so the conflict in the opening questions is an illusion. The goal, then, becomes keeping those gifts and possessions in perspective – not allowing them to consume or define you (or your children)–and finding your value, inside of you, based on Who You Really Are, rather than by your material possessions.

A simple way to keep holiday gifts in perspective, within yourself, is to be conscious of the reasons you have for the amount of shopping you do. For instance, if you are living a life of love, it may not be most beneficial to give gifts intended to show others your wealth; instead it might be more beneficial to look at gifts as an opportunity to show the recipient love, while realizing that this is not the only possible way to show that love. Similarly, giving someone gifts because you are trying to get their love and affection might not be as beneficial to your growth as giving gifts because you wish to show your love to them.  If you look at gift-giving as an opportunity to compete, or to do more than others, rather than doing more for others than you have before, you might not be achieving the highest version of the grandest vision you hold about yourself.  If you spend outside of your means, or what is comfortable, you may be causing yourself more stress. Whereas carefully picking meaningful gifts, which you can afford, might allow you to give with pure love rather than having fear, which accompanies spending “too much,” attached to the gift.  Being aware of your gift-giving intentions will allow you to demonstrate pure love to your child.

You can also directly help your child keep the holidays in perspective.  One way is to remind him that he is a complete, worthwhile being; and that, in concert with the CwG concept There is Enough, he is Enough just by his existence.  Guide your child to an understanding and feeling of gratitude by encouraging her to write thoughtful thank you notes for gifts she receives. Encourage her to share with others by assisting her in making small gifts for other family members.  All of these can help the child understand that the material things are just that…things which we have, not things which we are…and that being Who We Really Are is actually the best gift we can give the world.

So really, as with all of The New Spirituality, there are no wrong actions, nothing you can do which offends God or makes you a “bad” person. There is only you and your opportunity to embrace gift-giving as one way (not the only way, and not even the most important way) to share your abundance, to express Who You Really Are, Who You Are in relationship to another, and your love for another,  as well as a chance to acknowledge your gratitude for the gifts (both physical and not) you have received.  In this way, you can feel free to spend as much or as little as you choose, be liberated from the trappings of “keeping up with (or doing more than) the Joneses,” and make educated decisions to spend what is comfortable for your family (whether that means zero or 100 presents) without guilt or fear of judgment, competition, or punishment…all the while keeping in mind that your presence may be just the present your child desires!

(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

Around this time of year the old “naughty and nice” list and the “Elf on the Shelf” get pulled out. Parents, at their wits’ end the other eleven months of the year, rely on Santa’s powers of persuasion to gain a few weeks of peace.

Have you ever questioned if Santa is being used as a human substitute for a judgmental God, as the arbiter of “right and wrong” on earth?

Do you ever wonder why parents buy in wholeheartedly?

Since the New Spirituality frees us from judgment by God, does this utilization of Santa as a mechanism of control continue to work to help our children attain their Highest Selves?

My own childhood experience of Santa was one of distant trepidation. My parents didn’t really use Santa to elicit “good” behavior from us to the extent that others did, so I wasn’t really afraid of him in the light of day. But every Christmas Eve, as I tried (and failed) to sleep, I shivered and shook in my bed in anticipation that this strange guy in a red suit would visit my house while we slept…and what if he looked at me in my bed? Wasn’t that a violation of my privacy?

These impressions and fears of him, as a sort of boogey man, were all my own interpretation from things I heard outside of my home. I wanted to be excited about Santa…but it just never worked for me. With such a love-fear dynamic between me and the jolly ole’ fella, I was determined to prevent my daughter from having such an experience of fear. Don’t get me wrong, I love the spirit of giving that Santa personifies and I wish for my daughter to see magic all around her in the world. I just hope she can experience magic without manipulation and fear…and without me having to lie to her.

Neale Donald Walsch has a beautiful children’s book called Santa’s God which describes Santa with magic and love, but no fear.  And we share the messages of that sweet book with our daughter often.  But early on we also decided to allow her to guide and create her own concept of Santa based on her own feeling. We have never spoken of Santa as fact, and certainly not as a judge and/or jury to determine her worthiness for gifts. We have always told her that if Santa is to have a role in our life, he has to follow the rules of our house…even if they are different from what her friends think he is or does.

In our house, Santa cannot predicate gifts on behavior, he cannot visit any room other than the family room, and he is not allowed to “check up on her” because, well, even as an adult, that concept still creeps me out!  One of the difficult aspects of this has been working to teach her that Santa is a very personal concept which many people view differently. We have tried to demonstrate respect for other people’s traditions by keeping our own ideas to ourselves because we do not wish to ruin other families’ ideas and customs regarding Santa.

When she asks about the more impossible aspects of Santa, like, “How can he make it to all the houses?” we say, “What do you think?”

When she asks, “How does he know we moved?” we say, “Well, Santa knows what Mommy and Daddy know.

“When she pointedly says, “Mom, this Santa guy’s job seems impossible; I just don’t think it can happen the way they say!” we encourage her to explore what that statement means to her.  And on the occasions that she has persisted, we answer that, yes, we agree it seems impossible, always giving the reigns back to her so she can decide how far to go for herself.

We had many friends and family argue that by “stealing” his power we would also steal his magic, but the opposite has been the case. What has resulted is that she has chosen to embrace the wonder and magic of Santa without the fear – even during the times I can see in her eyes that she suspects we are Santa.  At the end of last year, she all but told us she knew he wasn’t real, and now this year she seems to believe again. She is truly guiding her own experience – even year to year.

Is this a path you would choose? Or do you wish to embrace the magic story of Santa? It is really a very personal choice. There is no right or wrong approach; only what works for the individual family.

Are we doing it “right” for her? Who knows? She may grow up to write an article that says “I wish my mom and dad had encouraged me to believe in Santa.” But she may, on the other hand, say, “Wow, my parents never lied to me about anything…except Santa.”  Each of our children’s interpretation of our parenting decisions will be about the child’s own perspective, faith in us, and their own understanding of how they create their individual realities.

You may be reading this article, thinking to yourself, “This woman really thinks too much about little things! Let the kid be a kid!” Maybe I do; I have been accused of overthinking things before. But I wonder if maybe… just maybe…by allowing her to choose her own behavior, for the intrinsic value of aligning with who she really is, rather than for material gain, we are actually allowing her to be herself.

Could it be that by giving her freedom to question, we are assisting the development of her critical thinking process? And probably most important to my own conscience as a parent, by not using Santa as a mechanism of control, could we be affording her a life free of fear, free of manipulation, and free of trembling, shivering, shaking moments waiting to hear some stranger casing our house in the middle of the night?

What do you think?

(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

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Ghandi

How is tolerance related to spirituality and parenting? One of the hallmarks of The New Spirituality is non-judgment.  How can you present that to your child, even as your own views may be judged by others as “wrong” and even blasphemous?

Many of us have experienced intolerance because of our non-traditional spiritual beliefs, either from family, friends, or acquaintances. Those living in overtly religious areas can find it very difficult to be different from the mainstream. That is one of the reasons that the community aspect of religion has lasted so many years…the human desire to assemble and be with others like themselves. This is also one of the reasons that it can be difficult to engage in a non-traditional spiritual life…the lack of community. However, you can assemble your own community if you desire it; it may just look a little different than what you expect. Your community may be internet-based, such as The Global Conversation or the School of the New Spirituality; it may be found at spiritual retreats; or you may create it based on another aspect of your life – parenting, love of outdoors, etc.

You may have felt the need for caution before divulging your world view. You may have felt ostracized as people in your area talk about their own ideas as if they are everyone’s values. You may have struggled with how to teach and celebrate your spiritual beliefs with your child so that he or she understands and embraces a relationship with God; while being careful not to cause him or her to feel uncomfortable or left out around other children. The truth is that intolerance is fear made manifest. People fear what they do not know or understand.  And so to keep that which they fear away from them, they put up walls of intolerance. Children, on the other hand, like to find commonalities. In trying to make connections, they often ask their parents, “Does that person believe the same things as us?” It can be disconcerting and disappointing to the child when the answer is, more often than not, no.

Children are also sponges. They observe, hear, and internalize our attitudes as well as our fears and insecurities. Religious tolerance is one topic on which children learn from their parents, both how to react to others’ attitudes and how to treat others. You have no control over the amount of religious tolerance which is extended to you. Therefore, it can be beneficial to demonstrate tolerance toward others even if they are not showing the same to you. Helping your children feel secure in their own beliefs is one way to avoid taking other people’s attitudes, either positive or negative, personally. Assist your children in exploring their own connection to God and others. Demonstrate to your child how to be love and tolerance in the world instead of being afraid to speak your truth. Show respect to others and allow your child to learn about what others believe.

Teaching your children the core principles within Conversations with God can be very helpful:

There is no such thing as right and wrong.

God talks to everyone all the time.

Love is all there is.

We are all one.

These concepts help children understand that there are many paths to God and that no one way is the only way.  A deeper understanding and application of all 25 concepts help us to embrace Who We Really Are, how to feel confident in our connection to God and the Universe, and, as a result, how to feel secure in our understanding of the world. Through this acceptance of our connection, we cease to view ideas as competing and begin to assess the world differently, abandoning dynamics of inferiority/superiority and directing us to more effective questions such as “Does this thing/idea/choice/belief/action benefit me right now?” and “What can I do today to be a gift of love to the world?”

Once we all begin viewing “beliefs” as merely part of the paintbrush with which we paint the canvas of our life – rather than as the hard-and-fast lines (rules) we have to paint within – notions of fear and intolerance will melt away.  All that will be left is Love!  We will collectively experience love of diversity, an easy acceptance of others, and a willingness to learn from one another. Instead of competing to be “right,” we will lift up and inspire each other to be our own personal bests.  Believe it or not, this can start today with what you teach your child about tolerance of others!

(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

On October 9, 2012 a teenage girl in Pakistan named MalalaYousufzai was brutally shot by members of the Taliban on her bus ride home from school. Her initial prognosis was not good, yet today she is thriving – walking, reading, and writing. While she still has more medical procedures ahead, the doctors believe she should recover without major neurological damage.

What possible reason could the Taliban have for wanting her dead?

They are threatened by her dream that girls receive an equal education to that of boys and her outspoken advocacy for it. She launched herself into the international spotlight a few years ago, at the age of 11, with her blog about girls and education.  She has shown unabashed passion and courage, notwithstanding the threats against her life over the years.  Even in the face of her attack, she has expressed that her intent is to continue her unwavering advocacy for education.  In fact, she is so dedicated to her own school work that, according to CNN, she has already resumed studying for her exams, even as she recovers. The international community has embraced her as a champion, even naming Saturday, November 10th “Malala Day” to honor her dream  (read full story here) .

Let’s reflect on what parents in the New Spirituality can learn from such a tenacious, brave young girl. I believe her strength and passion, the very same ones that made her a target of the Taliban, are helping her to make this miraculous recovery.  Your child may or may not be fighting for the right to education or to recover from a life-threatening injury; but the lessons we can, collectively learn, from Malala can be applied to many situations.

One of the Core Concepts of Conversations with God says, “The purpose of your life is to recreate yourself anew in the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever you held about Who You Are.”  What this concept means to me is that children who are encouraged to think for themselves by their parents, whose spirits are nurtured, rather than stifled, can lead very fulfilling lives of passion and become agents of great change! If Malala’s parents had discouraged her passion, the entire world might not be engaged, right now, in this important conversation about equal education.

It is tragic that chasing her dream caused her to be a target of hatred and violence, but how amazing is it that she has still chosen to be an advocate for conversation and change!  In the New Spirituality, it is incomprehensible that violence is used as an attempt to settle disagreements in the modern world; and further, it seems extreme that it took such a terrible act of violence against a child to draw attention to the plight of education.  But all it takes to begin change is a dream…an idea…a person brave enough to stand for something.  Malala is a beacon of hope and a steward of dreams!

I have wondered, in light of her attack, if her parents regret that they “allowed” her to be so outspoken; but I think her father’s speaking on her behalf about her continued passion shows that they do not. Or at least they appear to understand that this is something she feels compelled to do and that trying to stop her would be futile; that her advocacy is part of her purpose to recreate herself anew in the next grandest version of herself.

You may wish to think about Malala the next time your child has a seemingly crazy idea in which he says he will invent healthful, non-toxic food that is inexpensive to produce, plentiful enough to feed the world, and easy to share. Or the next time she says she can invent cars that can be given away for free and use no gas.  He or she may be just the one to accomplish it!  How parents react to their children’s aspirations and solutions to life’s problems, no matter how outlandish or impossible they may seem, directly affects how “big” the child feels it is okay to dream.  And how big children feel allowed to dream directly affects how society progresses.

How big do you wish for your child to dream? 

(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


Neale Donald Walsch said recently, “A master lives in gratitude at every moment.”

How can we guide our children to find their own meaningful experience of a life of gratitude?

In the U.S., the month of November is often a time to reflect on one’s good fortune.  As we approach Thanksgiving, social media is inundated with “30 Days of Thankfulness” posts, while many renew their attention to charitable giving and volunteering as an outpouring of their gratitude. These phenomena are demonstrations of one of the core concepts of Conversations with God, “There is Enough,” which teaches us that the world is an abundant place in which every person can get what they need and that scarcity only exists as we, collectively, allow it to persist.  Feeling this way in November is a great step toward a thankful life, but what about feeling gratitude during the other months of the year?

In a society which is centered on external factors of happiness — acquiring more material things, improving physical appearances, and glorifying competition — it can be difficult to instill a constant and unshakeable sense of inner completeness in your family’s hearts and minds; however, when approaching life through your spirituality, you learn that instead of looking out there, you must start searching within to find fulfillment. In fact, the root of all happiness is gratitude.  Being grateful helps us to see everything more positively, even the aspects of our lives we wish to change. Encouraging children to embrace and embody gratitude assists them in their spiritual development, as well as their view of the world around them.

Children learn by example. One way to demonstrate your own gratitude is to, as they say, find the silver lining in negative situations, and share those sentiments with your children. Another way is to share your abundance with others by donating time, resources, or just a kind word to another.  Giving of yourself to another person helps you appreciate your own gifts and blessings. A daily practice of gratitude allows it to permeate your thoughts more fully, becoming an integral part of your Be-ing. To this end, children, whether school-aged or even younger, can contribute to your family’s daily gratitude journal by drawing pictures, writing words, or even verbally expressing gratitude (for you to write for them).

Whatever way you choose to bring an awareness and practice of gratitude into your home, it will bring you closer together. I believe you will find that it takes the edge off of a rough day, endears you to each other, and easily becomes a large part of your dialogue and vocabulary…allowing you, and your children, to live in gratitude at every moment.

(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

Spiritually-minded families are “awake” to society’s challenges and advances. Your family may speak freely about helping others, how the world works…or doesn’t, how war is not beneficial, and/or environmental sustainability. Children have a clear sense and understanding of the spiritual concept “Love is all there is,” so these topics are easy for them to latch on to and hold dear.

What happens, then, when these spiritually-minded and socially aware families experience a contentious political cycle or hear of tragedy in the news? The news can lead children to experience  distress and, yes, even anger when they observe things that they don’t think are nice, fair, or “right” (within their own understanding of the words). They may even point out a politician or person in the news and say things like:

“He tells lies.”

“He doesn’t seem care about poor people.”

“He doesn’t seem like a nice person.”

(Angst is building…)

“He is so mean!”  “Mommy – that man is bad!

Parents who live a life inspired by the messages of Conversations with God might ask how to best support their children and seek ways to help their children have more clarity and understanding around their thoughts and feelings.  Many parents who believe that there are no absolutes, such as “right and wrong,” “good and bad,” etc., are replacing those Old Cultural concepts with different notions:

Is my choice beneficial or harmful?  Positive or negative?  Productive or non-productive?

Do my actions demonstrate Who I Really Am?

So when your child feels and expresses such powerful and raw emotions, you might wonder how to — or if you should – begin a conversation with your child, creating an opportunity to explore more deeply how they feel and why they feel the way they do.

Conversations with God says “There is nothing you have to do” and “There is no such thing as right and wrong.” Therefore, you may want to begin with the understanding that there is nothing wrong with a child’s expression of anger and you don’t have to do anything. You can choose to let her have her own experience of the event or you can choose to help her process it. Either way, you may want to start by remembering that what your child said is not about your parenting; it is not evidence that you haven’t taught her principles of love and acceptance. It is about her own sense of how the world should work.

In fact, that very outburst may facilitate a deeper remembrance of Who She Really Is. That moment of passion might be the turning point which leads her along a path toward establishing world peace!

Given that she is an individual with her own sense of fairness, you may wish to help her process those feelings through the lens of Love and Spirituality. Rather than “making her wrong” for calling the person “bad,” invite her to explore and discuss her feelings and expressions.  Assist her in creating constructive and meaningful ways to share her message, not only with the people she agrees with, but even those with whom she does not agree with, gifting her with the level of clarity and wisdom to effect positive change within herself, within her personal relationships, and within the world.

Helping your child arrive at the decision rather than telling him or her what to do is a huge step in his or her spiritual growth. The New Spirituality is not about prescribing behaviors or telling children who to be; it is about guiding them to choose and create, to experience and demonstrate, to announce and declare Who They Really Are.

(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 or