Friday, July 01, 2016

Book 14 of 2016 -- 10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting

10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting: Nurturing Your Child's Soul
Mimi Doe with Marsha Walch (United States: HarperCollins) 375 Pages

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, how do we, as parents, honor the spirituality of our children? As we shuttle between school, soccer practice, piano lessons, ballet lessons, birthday parties, and doctors' appointments, how do we find the time to encourage our children, through the ups and downs of growing up, to turn to God for guidance?” (from the back cover)

In this book Doe and Walch outline 10 ways to answer those questions. At times the way they explicate their principles seems very grounded. At others they sound a little “New Ageish” or “airy fairy”. But each to their own. You take what works and leave the rest. And of course this book is aimed at Spiritual parenting in a more generic sense (though one clearly gets the sense that the authors write from a Judeo-Christian mindset) and not specifically aimed at any one faith tradition. Which means that there will need to be a variety of images used.

The 10 principles themselves are:
  1. Know God Cares for You
  2. Trust and Teach That All Life Is Connected and Has a Purpose
  3. Listen to Your Child
  4. Words Are Important, Use Them with Care
  5. Allow and Encourage Dreams, Wishes, Hopes
  6. Add Magic to the Ordinary
  7. Create a Flexible Structure
  8. Be a Positive Mirror for Your Child
  9. Release the Struggle
  10. Make Each Day a New Beginning

This is a well written and helpful book. There were times that would encourage most parents. There are times that would convict most parents. And both of those are needed. There are suggestions that make a lot of sense and seem (in theory at least) easy to put into practise. And, as noted above, the reader is free to pick and choose what works for them and what does not.

Each principle gets its own chapter. At the end of each chapter are 5 things that make the book very worthwhile. There is a section called “Parents' Insight Building Exercise” which invites the parent to reflect (in the form of a guided meditation) on the principle that has just been discussed. There is a set of “Parents' Check-In Questions” which also push for reflection both on their own life and in their relationship with their child(ren) and partner. There is a “Children's Guided Journey”, a guided meditation to use with your child(ren). There is a set of “Children's Check-In Questions” to help encourage discussion with the child about the principle. And finally there are “Affirmations” both for Adults and Children.

I am glad I read this book. Truly there were passages that were difficult to read because I knew that what I do in practice is far less helpful than what was being described (Principles 3, 4, 8, and 9 come to mind). But we need to read those things too. At the same time, there were plenty of good suggestions.

One of the reading goals for this Sabbatical was to do some reading and reflecting on Pastoral Care. I chose to read the book because while Pastoral Care is about dealing with all generations. Much of our talk about Pastoral Care is about elderly individuals and/or people struggling with illness/change/mourning. But Pastoral Care is really about helping people grow in their Spiritual life. These principles are ones that the whole church could take on, not only as parents and grandparents but as part of the village that it takes to raise children. When we baptize a child in the United Church of Canada the gathered congregation makes a promise. Paying attention to books such as this would help us live out that promise.

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