In The Spiritual Child, psychologist Lisa Miller presents the results from scientific research in the fields of neurology, and psychology on the importance of spirituality for the well-being of children. Significant positive correlation is found between an active spiritual life and restraining from substance abuse, depression, and unprotected sex. Having a purpose in life grows when spirituality is fed.
We can help children grown into 6 core spiritual strengths: a spiritual compass for trustworthy inner guidance; family as a spiritual home base and sustaining source of connection, unconditional love, and acceptance; spiritual community as an extension of the family’s field of love, a shared experience and a lifelong road home to spiritual connection; spiritual multilangualism that broadens their access to a world of sacred experience and inspiration; spiritual agency that empowers them to right action that expands the field of love into a culture of love, and transcendent knowing: dreams, mystical experiences, and other special knowing.
Miller leads her readers through the first decade (from newborn to teenager) and second decade (teenager, adolescence) of human beings to rediscover and stress the spiritual growth everyone can and should experience.
Developmental depression can be understood as a crucial opportunity, a developmental imperative for spiritual growth that should be acknowledged and engaged, even honored as part of the rite the passage through adolescence into adulthood. Teens with developmental depression can greatly benefit from a psychotherapist who integrates spiritual development into mainstream models of treatment. Medication alone is not sufficient to build a lifelong infrastructure for the spiritual life.
Than parenthood starts a new cycle. Catching spirituality from our child can wake us up. We recognize our significance and purpose. The world looks different in all ways, from our own parenting interactions to how we experience the world. Parenting gives us transformative opportunities. We become aware of our vulnerabilities and loss of control. Help is needed: parenting is bigger than parents. When adolescence of your child arrives at the same time as your midlife (crisis or surge), can be helped with active, engaged listening to share the joint passages.
What are of benefit to the spiritual parenting our children by using spiritual language daily, being transparent and the voice of spiritual experience, meeting them where they are, building a spiritual practice together, nurturing active relationships with animals and all of nature, tending to the field of love, and striving according to your spiritual compass. Miller envisions an all-inclusive open-minded attitude towards spirituality, not linked to a specific religion or belief system.
Her findings, illustrated with with broad anecdotal evidence stresses time and again the importance of treasuring the spiritual seeds planted in a young child’s life, strengthening it throughout the upbringing. Neglecting spirituality or separating it from everyday life to something not talked about openly is dangerous. Miller would like to see us parents as spiritual ambassadors. Though I’d certainly do that from a Christian living faith perspective, I broadly agree to Miller’s conclusions.
About the author
Lisa Miller, Ph.D., is director of clinical psychology and founder of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University, Teachers College. The author of The Spiritual Child, she has spent over a decade researching the impact of religion and spirituality. She teaches at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Miller’s research has been published in journals including JAMA-Psychiatry, American Journal of Psychiatry, and the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. She has appeared on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and Weekend Today as an expert psychologist. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and three children.
You may watch Lisa Miller’s TED talk on Depression and spiritual awakening—two sides of one door: