Raising Spiritually Aware Children through Meditation
by Rev. Marie Senestraro
Children are born with an awareness of themselves as spirit and of God. They do not need our help to gain this awareness, but rather to maintain the awareness of themselves as spirit as they learn to operate in a body in the physical world. They need our help in learning how to operate a body, how to care for it, and use it to create in this world. We can teach our children a great deal about the physical world and about how to operate a body and, if we allow them, they can teach us a great deal about spirit.
I think our greatest tool as parents in allowing this interchange is meditation. When we take time to meditate, we are validating spirit and our body. We are creating a balance between spirit and body. As we get to know ourselves as spirit we can get to know our children who they are, what they are here to learn and do. I think this is one of our greatest challenges as parents: to know our children, to allow them to be who and what they are and not what we think they should be. No matter how well intentioned our directing is, if we try to mold our children into our view, we are doing them a disservice. I experienced this very early in my parenting adventure.
Shortly before my first child was born, my husband and I had a family spiritual reading. This is a psychic reading in which the reader looks at the growth of each member of the family in relationship to being in the family, what they are learning from each other, communication in the group, and more. Part of the reading allows time to ask questions. I dont remember the question I asked, but I remember the answer.
"You think your child wants the same things that you do, but she doesnt." I couldnt believe it; I had never stopped to consider that my daughter would want something different than I wanted. I already had my whole parenting plan worked out; I was going to give my daughter everything I had wanted and not gotten. I was going to heal my childhood by giving her the kind of childhood I had wanted. The information I received in the reading did not create an immediate change in me, but it planted a seed.
I was soon busy with a new baby, a dramatic change in lifestyle as I left my job to stay home with my daughter. There were times I would find myself growing frustrated; I was giving her everything I could think of, and she still was not happy or responding the way I thought she should. In those times, I would sit down to meditate, and that seed of information would come back to me. How much was I operating out of what I wanted; what did my daughter want? When I took the time to sort these two things out, we inevitably got back on track. I went back to healing myself within myself instead of trying to do it through my daughter so she could get back to the business of learning and growing in the ways she needed, without trying to solve her mothers problems.
I have seen this interaction between parent and child play out many times. I have a good friend whose mother pushed her as a child to be a performer. This was not what she wanted, and the whole experience had been very painful for her. As I talked to her about it one day, I told her that I believed her mother had just been trying to give her what she had wanted as a child. I asked her if her mother would have liked to have the training and performing opportunities that she had had. She thought about it for a while and she said, "You know, she would have loved it."
I told her that in trying to be "good" parents, folks will often operate from their desires, trying to heal their childhood pain by giving their children what they wanted. They just assume their child wants the same things they did. If parents do not have a spiritual perspective, they never see their child as a spiritual being with its own life plan and goals. I told her about my experience with my daughter. I have often had and Im sure that for the rest of my life I will have to sit down and sort out what I want from what she wants. But every time I do this, I know that my life is enriched by getting to know myself, and my daughters life is enriched by getting to be herself.
One of the simplest and funniest examples of this happened when my daughter was close to two. She was having lunch: the kid classic, macaroni and cheese and a hot dog. When she finished her hot dog, she wanted a new fork for her macaroni and cheese. I said, "Honey, you dont need a new fork, you can use the same one you used for the hot dog." She would have none of this; she wanted a new fork. I said, "I use the same fork for the whole meal, your dad uses the same fork for the whole meal, your aunt " and I proceeded to list off all the people she knew who used the same fork for the whole meal. She just looked at me and said, "Well I dont," not defiantly or angrily, just very matter-of-factly. I gave her the new fork, laughing and reminding myself how precious it is to have a child who knows herself and knows and is not afraid to say what she wants.
I am not a perfect parent, but meditation has helped me so much to be the kind of parent I want to be. The more I meditate, the more I realize that all I really want is to know myself and be loved and accepted as I am. And the more I meditate, the more I know my children and can accept and love them as they are, not how I think they should be. Raising spiritually aware children is a challenge, but the challenge is not in creating that awareness; it is in allowing it to remain. Meditation is the best parenting tool I have found to do this.
Rev. Marie Senestraro is the family program teacher at the Seattle Church of Divine Man (CDM). CDM offers family readings and meditation classes for adults and children. (206) 782-3617