Our Children in These Times of Change

I have been on an extended road trip to Barcelona and to Lisbon, where, in each city, I offered spiritual renewal retreats based on the messages in Conversations with God. So my apologies for not having been here in this space for a bit. I do want to continue — and conclude — the series of articles that I started here some weeks ago, on Seven Steps to Having Your Own Conversation with God.

Please allow me to pick up here where we left off with the last entry.

The fourth stepin having your own Conversation with God is a commitment to wakefulness; an agreement with yourself topay attention to God.

God is all around us, and we are not paying attention.

We may be willing. We may have gone past Step Three. But we are not awake. We are not paying attention.

Often that is because we are looking too hard for what is right in front of our face. We are listening so earnestly that we miss the sound.

God is talking to us in a thousand different ways, across a million moments. But we must pay cultivate what I call Attentive Inattention…or the Unexpected Expectation, or “active passivity.”

This is when you listen by not listening. It is when you look by not looking.

It is when you open your mind’s ear and your mind’s eye to nothing at all, expecting nothing at all, searching for nothing at all, wishing for nothing at all, striving for nothing at all, just “being with” No Thing/Everything.

This is exactly what I do when I am writing. It is exactly how I have produced 27 books.

This Attentive Inattention turns every moment into a meditation. Just let life go by, but watch it out of the “corner of your eye.”

God’s conversations will “sneak up on you.” The lyrics of the next song you hear on the overhead speakers in the food store. The article that jumps off the cover of a two-year-old magazine at the hair salon. The chance utterance of a friend you just happen to meet on the street. The words on the billboard around the next corner.

…or…a fleeting thought that crosses your mind, seemingly out of nowhere.

“Nowhere”…that’s an interesting word. Slice it in half and it comes out to NOW HERE.

God is always NOW HERE.

So I call Step Four: Wakefulness. Don’t sleep walk through life. Stay awake. Watch what’s going on—without looking for something in particular.

Like right now. What do you think is happening right now?

The fifth step is acceptance…or, if you please, non-denial.

We need to call our conversations with God exactly what they are when they occur.

Once we start by setting aside that kind of special time, and begin walking through Life in wakefulness, we will be aware that we are receiving communications from the Divine all the time.

What will happen is that we will suddenly notice them. We will become aware that Life informs Life about life through the process of Life Itself. And we will become a conscious part of that process.

Still, if we’re not careful, we’ll call this something else. We’ll give it a different label or different name for fear of being ridiculed.

We’ll call it “coincidence.” Or “serendipity.” Or “women’s intuition.” Or a “stroke of genius.” Or a “sudden inspiration.” Or, simply…a “good idea.”

We’ll call it everything we can think of except a Conversation with God.

And in denying it for what it is, we will minimize it. And that’s the danger. We won’t give it the importance it deserves because we’ve called it less than it is.

Now there’s another side to this. And it’s kind of ironic, but I have to tell you about it so you don’t fall into the trap.

Step six is discernment. We have to be careful not to become so precious with the experience that we start categorizing everything that happens to us as “a sign.” Or, “God, talking to me!”

In other words, don’t let your imagination run away with you.

Don’t let your mind play tricks on you.

God talks to you through you Soul, not through your mind. And you can learn to tell the difference. This is called discernment.

So if you’re reaching for your car keys and a dollar falls out of your pocket, this may not be a “sign” that you should take all of the money out of your pocket and throw it on the sidewalk.

Be judicious. Give everything the “tummy test.”

Your stomach will know when something is true. Ever notice that? Your tummy knows what the Mind can only wonder about.

The body is more intelligent than we think. Listen to your body. Watch how you feel. If you feel uplifted by something you have noticed out of the “corner of your eye,” pay attention to that.

If you feel downtrodden, or “burdened,” by an incoming communication, it cannot be from God. It must be from your Mind.

…Or…it has been filtered so much BY your Mind that you have lost the purity of the original communication.

Now don’t get me wrong. Your Mind is not your enemy. It is a very important and effective tool, actually. It’s just that it has a job to do.

Your Mind’s job is to ensure your survival. Therefore, it will always look for anything that may seem threatening to you. It will be super-cautious. It will see every possible bad outcome, and warn you about it. No wonder that you will often feel burdened, and not uplifted, by its communications.

And then, irony of ironies, when your Mind sees that you are feeling burdened, it will do whatever it can to guarantee that you get through that “downer” so that you can survive…so it will even give you a temporary “high”—such as a thought or idea that every single thing that is going on is a “sign from God.” If THAT doesn’t make you feel special, nothing will.

So be careful with your Mind. It is always powerful, but not always reliable.

Use discernment. Go to the place that’s thinking about what you’re thinking about. This is Who You Really Are. You are the Observer of That Which Is Being Observed.

You are neither your Body nor your Mind nor your Soul. You are That Which Is All Three.

This is the Totality of Your Being—and this is what you are seeking to experience during your time here on Earth.

And that brings us to Step Seven: Fulfillment.

After you have used your discernment to decide which thoughts, concepts, and ideas really are coming directly from God—as opposed to indirectly thought the many filters of your Mind, your life, and your world—give yourself permission to act on them. Do something about them. Don’t ignore them, or put ‘em on a pile for “later.”

When I was a child there used to be a saying: “Strike while the iron is hot.”

In the process by which something is forged from steel, you have to shape the metal into the desired formation while it is white hot—and therefore pliable enough to turn into anything you want.

When you have a conversation with God, something wants to be forged from steel. So strike while the iron is hot.

Do it. Act on it. Step into it, not away from it.

And do it now, not tomorrow. Not when you “have more time,” or when you “have more money,” or when you have “more” of whatever it is you don’t think you have enough of right now.

Make it your intention to at least begin. All right, maybe you don’t have a particular item, or a particular aspect, perfectly in place. But make it your intention to begin. And then…make it your intention to complete.

Remember that life proceeds out of your intentions for it.

And “completion” is the definition of enlightenment.

Watch how much lighter you feel when you complete anything. 

So intend to begin, and intend to complete, the next step in the process of your own evolution.

And don’t wonder about what it is you should do. Don’t worry about what your next step is, or how to solve your current dilemma, or how to resolve your present issue, or how to solve the prevailing problem.

Say this prayer:

Thank you, God, for helping me to understand that this problem has already been solved for me.

Then listen for God. Ask God whatever you want to ask. Then watch. Wait. Listen for the answer.

Now I want you to know that, with regard to your present question…

…you will be answered.

Indeed, it has been written: “Even before you ask, I will have answered.”

Yet you may not hear the answer in this very moment. You may not be aware of it “right now.”

Not everyone becomes aware of their conversation with God in the same way.

Give yourself time. Have patience with yourself. Have patience with the process. Ultimately, once you deliberately ask a question of God, you will become aware of the answer. It will happen very rapidly, if you stop looking for it, and just let it “come to you.”

Ask, and you will be answered. Knock, and it will be opened unto you.

So let yourself receive the answer in the Fullness of Time.

That could be today, in this way that we are going use right now, or not. Let it all be okay.

And that’s my Seven Step Process to having your own Conversation with God. I hope it has been helpful to you.

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 www.cwgforparents.com. 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 www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Emily@cwgforparents.com.)

Life is a gift – a very true statement, in my opinion. Recently, I have experienced this, not just in living Life Itself, but in all of the things that happen from moment to moment and day to day. These little incidents are the gifts! And the gift of responsibility is probably the one that stands out the most.

Have you ever felt completely at peace with all the responsibility that you have? Seriously, take a moment and think about it. Do you think most people have gratitude for the daily responsibilities that they possess?

Recently, I have taken on the large responsibility of becoming a full-time, hands-on grandmother to my son’s ten-month-old daughter. I am not raising her; however, because she and her mother have moved into my home, I am with her nearly every day. Although it is temporary, it brings the idea of change, and what it means, to me – full force.

That reminds me of something.  Didn’t Neale Donald Walsch write a book about that? When Everything Changes, Change Everything! Of course he did! It has been very helpful to me.

My current situation is a complete 360-degree change from where it was a few months ago when I didn’t get to see her as I would have chosen. It was a very devastating time, and in missing her, I truly felt the loss of a soul. With this being said, after talking to God and the universe, my prayers were answered. When the opportunity arose, or when the door opened to embrace change, the only question I asked myself was, “What would love do now?” Then all fear, doubt, anger, and frustration left me and instantly turned to joy, forgiveness, selflessness, and, most importantly, love.

Embracing this responsibility has been one of many blessings and gifts in my lifetime. Not only do I have the opportunity to see and hold my grand baby on a daily basis again, but I am now blessed with seeing her grow, explore, and learn new things. Instead of viewing my house as more crowded, noisy, and inconvenient, I am choosing to view it as more filled with love, light and laughter!

I feel we all are given the gift of responsibility and all of the things we get out of it. I bet you have seen this with friends and loved ones?

I have a friend who, together with his wife, decided to allow their niece to come live with them when she was in need. They took on their niece. And the experience (the gift) of this responsibility, watching her grow and flourish with their love, has outnumbered any potential negatives or inconveniences(financial or otherwise) that one could hold around it.

Parenting (and grandparenting, too) is the biggest responsibility there is, and we feel every decision we make for our precious children to our core in one way or another. For me, gratitude is the key to finding peace in what society calls responsibility. The gratitude for experiencing what you have asked for, what may be in front of you, and being the person you are in order to feel the responsibility. The beautiful, heartwarming, devastating, sometimes frightening wonderful thing we call life.

Do we call it responsibility or do we call it life? Do we embrace all of life or do we run from it? Gratitude, my friends, abundant gratitude, will allow the responsibilities of life to flow. This is my door to CwG core concept which says that the wonderful ways to be are honest, responsible, and aware. My gratitude runneth over with the beautiful responsibility of being alive. Having my granddaughter with me is beyond living; it is heaven.

Am I suggesting, then, that every day can be heaven? Yes, I am! I feel if we can find a way to see the gift in everything, even those things that feel overwhelming, pressing, exhausting, or out of our comfort zone, and even our “responsibilities” as gifts, we then experience heaven on earth. Breathe in life and all that it sets down in front of you. The gifts are waiting!

(Laurie Lankins Farley has worked with Neale Donald Walsch for approximately 10 years. She is the Executive Director of his non-profit The School of the New Spirituality and creative co-director of CwGforParents.com. Laurie has published an inspirational children’s book “The Positive Little Soul.”  She can be contacted at Parenting@TheGlobalConversation.com.)

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: http://youtu.be/h11u3vtcpaY

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 www.cwgforparents.com. 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 www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Emily@cwgforparents.com.)

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 www.cwgforparents.com. 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 www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Emily@cwgforparents.com.)

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 www.cwgforparents.com. 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 www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Emily@cwgforparents.com.)

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 www.cwgforparents.com. 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 www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Emily@cwgforparents.com.)

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 www.cwgforparents.com. 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 www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Emily@cwgforparents.com.)

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 www.cwgforparents.com. 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 www.withmychildseries.com. To contact Emily, please email her at Emily@cwgforparents.com.)

“Life is a process of creation, and you keep living it as if it were a process of re-enactment”  – (Conversations with God – Book 2)

As a parent, it is important to live life moment to moment, experiencing the journey that you have created with this new life, your child! However, most of us re-enact what we experienced as children, not the other way around. We re-enact parenting behaviors rather than create new parenting skills.  Spiritual parenting is a new concept.  It is a different approach to the traditional authoritarian style of parenting that society has handed down generation after generation, one which involves a new way of seeing your child and a new way to experience each other’s humanness.

I am writing this article because I have noticed so many parents parenting from the past, rather than from a natural progression of their life experiences.  Most children are intuitive and have natural human senses.  But it is often the case that parents do not allow their children to manifest their own thoughts and ideas.  Instead, many parents dictate to children their own ideas about what they think life should be like or look like. Sometimes it is okay to follow their lead, allowing them to direct us in creating their futures. This will give us, the parent, more tools to work with as we move toward a new way of parenting. By listening to our children, we gain a new, creative way of parenting rather than re-enacting our own past experiences.

I realize that this little tad bit of information might seem confusing at first, but it is quite simple actually. I am suggesting that you step out of your mind…out of your past…and look into the future through the eyes of your child…into forever.

What does your “forever” look like? “Forever” for you may mean until the end of this physical life.  To some, it could mean through many lifetimes for all eternity. To me, forever is a continued source of energy, one that exists in both the spiritual realm and the physical realm.  It is a never-ending story, a continuation of your Soul’s creation, not a re-enactment from the beginning of this physical life…unless it is. My forever often doesn’t look anything like I think it should because I am constantly creating it.  I am creating that which has been given to me, through me, and releasing the re-enactment of what I think was given to me.

I was given a wonderful example of this from a very good friend who longed to raise her son in a small town, because that is how she grew up, until one day she realized that her past is not the place to draw upon in an effort to create a life for her son.  Rather, it was an attempt to simply relive what was meaningful and memorable to her. Creating a new direction with her son was a better path for both of them, and way more fun than simply doing over her own life.

By not re-enacting your childhood, what your parents created for you, you are embarking on a life experience that will fill you and your child/ren with new ideas, new hope, and keep your parenting “life spark” alive inside of you. Now, I hope you understand that this is merely my idea of a creative forever.  There are no rules, no restrictions, just life unfolding. Will you allow a new unfolding to occur in your family?

My realization as a parent: My child and I can Co-Create the forever that we wish it to be.

(Laurie Lankins Farley has worked with Neale Donald Walsch for approximately 10 years. She is the Executive Director of his non-profit The School of the New Spirituality and creative co-director of CwGforParents.com. Laurie has published an inspirational children’s book “The Positive Little Soul.”  She can be contacted at Parenting@TheGlobalConversation.com.)