What do you think about giving your child a “spiritual life”?
I was sitting in the pediatrician’s office last week and picked up a copy of Parents magazine. The April issue listed on its cover an article titled, “How to Nurture Your Child’s Spiritual Life.” The actual article is titled “The Gift of Faith.” and it’s written primarily from a Christian perspective but aims for universal values. (Yes, the very first sentence shows they didn’t exactly do their homework on Judaism, but just skip over the little ‘r’ reform Jew. There’s not an entire movement of Jews who were in the juvenile detention system.) There is a reference to one Muslim woman. I don’t know how meaningful the quote is for Muslims – one of you can tell me. Bottom-line, they tried. Now let’s look at the universal elements.
The four messages explored are:
*Passing on spiritual values
This is generally a different concept for Jews than for Christians so if you’re Jewish you may want to think in terms of passing on traditions and peoplehood.
*Being a role model
This one’s pretty obvious, if you’re dropping your kid off for religious education and leaving to play golf or shop, you have taught by action. Consider whether you are really committed to this.
*Create a community
According to a recent Pew Research Council survey 96% of Americans believe in a supreme being, only about 40% attend a house of worship at least once a week. OK, I know we Jews are bringing down the average, but we’re less than 2% of the population so the Christians aren’t going to church much either. But here’s the thing, Judaism is a HOME BASED religion. You can do ANYTHING at home. You can even get a minyan for High Holidays in your living room. So creating community becomes less clear for Jews, especially those in interfaith relationships. But if you want your child to own a Jewish identity, that is more likely to happen if they are affirmed by a formal community.
*Answers to tough questions
Here’s a field wide open for a conversation with your partner or spouse. I read the questions and the suggested answers. I didn’t use most of these answers with my own children because they were very Christian based. Jews have answers, but they are different.