Introducing your child to the concept and the reality of God – Part VI: Be the first person to bring it up
If you wait until someone in the child’s outside world ignites her interest in God, by talking about God in their home when your child is there on a visit or is sharing a stay-over with a school friend, then your “starting place” in this exploration will be what your child has heard elsewhere. That may or may not be a good place to begin, as your child may be filled with images or ideas about God that could prove bewildering…or even scary.
My suggestion is that you allow yourself to be the first person to introduce your child to the concept and the reality of God. We know that first impressions are lasting impressions, and I’m sure you want your child’s first impression of God to be different from the one to which many of us were subjected in our generation.
There are many ways, as I have alluded to already, to introduce your child to the concept and the reality of God without sitting your child down to have a “session” in which you say something like, “Let’s talk about God.”
Sex and God: Our two yearnings
Allowing your child to know that God is a part of your life is one of the most powerful things you can do to fuel your child’s Greater World experience. I liken it to how we introduce our children to sex. They either never hear about it from us and we talk to them about it only when, finally, they ask about it somewhere along the way, or they are introduced to it in an easy, casual way as a natural and normal, happy and fun part of life.
Sex and God are both dynamite subjects. That’s why I’m using them as companion examples here. They are probably the two most critical topics that one could explore with children. (And—dare I say?—the most taboo in our current Cultural Story.) How you approach these subjects will form and shape important inner experiences for your children for the rest of their lives—even (and perhaps especially) if they create later experiences that counter or contradict what they picked up from you.
Yet children will not create experiences, nor place themselves in circumstances, that counter or contradict what they understood by being with you if what they understood was joyous, fun-filled, happy and wonderful, uplifting their spirits every single time, and filling them with glorious and exciting anticipation of what wonders their next moment in life can hold.
Sadly, the teachings and doctrines about God of many of our societies and cultures and belief systems too often do not fill children with glorious and exciting anticipation of what wonders their next moment in life can hold. In fact, if my own childhood is any example, they more often fill children with fear and dread that they might do something terribly inappropriate or downright wrong, producing worried, tentative steppings into life. Sadly, the same can be said about our culture’s teachings and doctrines about Sex.
Yet the yearning for God as well as the yearning for Sex will not and cannot be denied—and so off our children will go, seeking to satisfy these yearnings with wildly misguided instructions.
The impulse lives within all of us
Every human being has a yearning for God. That is the most important thing I could tell you here. Every sentient being understands, at a cellular level, that something larger exists, something grander forms Ultimate Reality. We may not know what It is, but we feel certain that there is more going on here than meets the eye, and that Life in the Universe is more than a series of chemical reactions and energy fusions and biological processes. The design is too perfect, the process is too engaging and exciting, and the outcome is too magnificent for the whole operation to have been created by happenstance.
We know, too, at a very deep level, that we are part of all this. We are not separate from it; simply bystanders, watching a parade going by. We sense that we are, at some level, the parade organizers. Or, if we don’t believe that, we sense that at the very least, we are in the parade, part of it, not merely observers, not simply a fascinated but having-nothing-to-do-with-it audience.
Because we hold this deep inner knowing, we notice an unmistakable urge to join in when the parade is passing by. Our whole being is filled with what I have called an Impulse Toward the Divine. We feel a natural, inbred desire to unite, to become one again, with Life Itself at every level. We stick our nose in a flower, we bury our hands in the dirt, we spread our arms to the sunrise, we shed quiet tears of reverent awe at the utter magnificence of the night sky, we exult at the deep breathing in of the fresh morning, dew-filled air—we reach with humble joy for Life! And we desire Oneness with It in every way we can create.
Thus, the yearning for God. And for Sex.
Neither is incidental, or coincidental.
I believe we are attracted to each other inherently, out of a deep knowing that in each other we will find our Selves. I believe we know at the highest level that We Are All One and that we are seeking daily on this planet to end, at last and forever, our sense of Separation. We know, we intuitively understand, that Separation is not the Natural Order of Things, it is not the Truth of Our Being; and so we seek to never again suffer the illusion of being Alone.
Every child feels this yearning for Oneness as much as every adult, for Oneness is not an intellectual formulation, it is a spiritual awareness. And children are by no means less able to connect with deep spiritual awareness than adults. If anything, they’re more able.
This inbred, inborn, innate ability of children to connect with or experience deep spiritual awareness is something that many parents seldom think about, but that all parents have a opportunity to tap into, when considering how to introduce their children to the concept and the reality of God.
For the idea is pull out of the child, not put into the child, the truth and the awareness of humanity’s connection with the Divine. We are not trying to teach our children something, but to help them remember something; we are not trying to give them something (knowledge, wisdom, understanding, a sense of Oneness with God), but to let the know that they already have it.
There is a world of difference.
(Our discussion will continue here, with Part VII, in our next post.)