Our Children in These Times of Change

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 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.)

As I take more time to look around and examine what is going on in the world today, it has become clear to me that most people are confused about the true nature of love. In the book The Storm Before the Calm, Neale Donald Walsch says you may ask yourself, “What is confusing about love?” However, I believe the question could be, “What is the true nature of love and could I have it confused with something else?”

I have stated in my writing before that love is a feeling, not just a word. Love is, in my opinion, part of our DNA. It can’t be avoided.  It is the nature of the human soul to experience the feeling of love, especially between a parent and child. It is the kind of love that never separates you no matter what. No distance, no absence, etc., can dissolve a love that is born unto you.

So as I observe some relationships between parents and their children, I have strongly begun to suspect that what I am witnessing may actually be a confused idea about the true nature of love. In our society today, we have put fear in place of love, control in place of love, guilt in place of love, or other emotions have been expressed in place of love. As a parent, it is quite common to allow those emotions, actions, and reactions to show through, shadowing the true nature of love.

What is the true nature of love?

It is you…just being. It is teaching, it is understanding, compassion, tears, laughter, and it is nature itself. There is nothing you have to do to love, nothing you have to be. Love is just being, allowing, and listening. I am not suggesting that as a parent you should not react to anything or not express frustration or even anger; I am merely suggesting that love is just there and you can nurture it through that understanding.

The true nature of love is “hot-wired” in our developing brain in the womb. For example, our sexual orientation is within that wiring, but many strongly believe that is not natural to love and share in a physical relationship with the same gender. However, very young children do not see gender. Sure, on the outside they might notice differences, but not on the inside, not in the soul. That, in my opinion, is the true nature of love.

Let me give a stronger example. What if we, the human race, never spoke a single word to one another? What if love was only expressed through our actions with everyone we encountered on a daily basis, and especially with our children? What if words never influenced any of us regarding politics, religion, the color of our skin, our sexual orientation, etc? How do you think your child would view the world, themselves, their parents, their friends? And as they grew, how do you think this would affect how they would internalize love and show love outwardly in the world? Imagine if we couldn’t express judgment onto our children through our confusion about the true nature of love? What if we, rather, allowed them to just be what they are, “Love,” through guidance, affection, compassion and the five natural emotions – explained in Conversations with God as love, fear, envy, anger and grief- of course, all while doing so without condition!

My thought is that if we begin to understand that we have a confused idea about the true nature of love…and then move toward an expression of pure love…our world would change, morph into a beautiful ball of loving energy. I can have that idea about love, can’t I?

(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.)

This week my goal has been to write the next lesson for the School of the New Spirituality’s website CwGforParents.com. 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 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.)

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 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.)

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 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.)

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 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.)

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 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.)

“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 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.)

What I am about to share with you is not a new idea and it’s not my own idea.  In fact, I am sure you have probably heard of this concept before.  But the day I truly saw the living reality of it, it began to transform my life—and my children’s lives.  And it was also the day that I realized I had been fooling myself for many, many years.

I finally understood in a flash of a moment, that everything I project “outwardly”onto others is a reflection of what is going on “inwardly.”  The more I became aware of this and started to test this concept out, the more my life began to change for the better!  And for the “betterment” of my children!  Although most of us who have (bravely and courageously) put even one toe on the “spiritual path” are already familiar with this metaphysical principle, how often do we consider it within the context of Parenting? 

It’s likely that when we’ve worked with this idea in the past we’ve drudged up the most recent interactions not with our children but with our romantic partner or co-worker or employer or close friend—and then humbly saw what might need attention within ourselves. But how can this awareness be applied in the dynamic of parent-to-child and child-to-parent?

I don’t believe parenting with the New Spirituality requires anything unusual or unrealistic.  And — much like the “effortless parenting” practice I pointed to in my last article — I think there is a skill lying dormant in us that can be easily awakened when we gently notice that what’s appearing outside of us is really the very same thing that’s appearing inside of us.  “Fooling myself” is how I first referred to this back when I began to recognize my tendency to imagine that what my children were displaying “out there” was anything different or other than what was already living “in here.”

Fooling ourselves is an innocent daily ritual for most of us, and usually we don’t even know that we’re doing it.  Think of all of the times you have lost patience with your children, felt angry or overwhelmed.  These feelings are usually experienced and believed to be your natural outward reaction to the challenging situation of the moment.  But what if you noticed that the lack of patience you are having with your child might be because you are feeling little patience with yourself that day?  What if your anger is on the rise not because your child is displaying anger, but because you were angry with yourself already?  And suppose your intolerance toward your child is because you are not feeling very tolerant of the perfectly imperfect human being that your Soul came here to experience!  What if all of these emotions stem from the fact that you have forgotten in the flurry of parenting to tend to your own emotions; your inner self; your Soul?

First, it’s a high level of Mastery to even notice and want to take responsibility for what we are experiencing on the “inside”– so let’s acknowledge what a huge shift that is in and of itself!

As a parent — and especially a new one — it’s easy to imagine that because we are now in this society-created role, we should have it all figured out, and that losing patience or feeling angry or overwhelmed is no longer okay to experience.  There are a number of principles from the Conversations with God messages that might help ease the self-judgment that comes swimming in (sometimes like a tsunami!) in our daily interactions with our children. In this article, let’s add the concept “We Are All One” and notice that if this is a reality, how might both you and your children be working to heal the same Illusions?  Perhaps viewing your own ups & downs mirrored by your child back to you can remind you that your souls are always “on the same team,” and help you to feel more compassion and empathy for the whole dance you’re doing together on any given day.

Even though it can at first seem more convenient to get past the moment and live in denial of what we’re feeling or what judgment we’re placing on our self, learning to pause and to take even one full minute to examine what is going on inside can improve our natural skills in dealing appropriately with the situations appearing on the outside.

If we were to practice a 1-Minute meditation many times a day (because sometimes those short segments of time are all we’ve got!), how might it affect our overall experience of parenting and the exchanges we have with our children?  If you decided that the greatest gift you could give yourself today was to be patient or compassionate or understanding and tender with you, there would most likely be a natural tendency to then offer the same with your children, and continue to work on healing Illusions together.

A “Mama Laurie Mantra” that might help (and one I still use often!):  “If I see it Out there, I’m looking In here!” 

(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.)

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 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.)