Spiritually-minded families often choose to be "awake," both, to society's challenges and successes. Your family may speak freely about helping others, how the world works (or doesn't), how war is not beneficial, and/or environmental sustainability. Children have a clear sense and understanding of the spiritual concept "love is all there is," so these topics are easy for them to latch onto and hold dear. What happens, then, when these spiritually-minded and socially aware families experience a contentious political cycle or a time of tragedy in the news? The news can lead children to experience distress and, yes, even anger when they observe things that they don't think are nice, fair, "right" (within their own understanding of the words). They may even point out a politician or person in the news and say things like "He tells lies." "He doesn't seem care about poor people." "He doesn't seem like a nice person." (Angst is building…) "He is so mean!" "Mommy – that man is bad!"
arents, living a Conversations with God-inspired life, might question how to handle their children's feelings and help them through them. Many who believe that there are no absolutes such as "right and wrong," "good vs. bad (evil)," etc. try to replace those dichotomies with different notions: Is a proposed action beneficial or harmful, positive or negative, productive or non-productive? Is what I am doing in line with Who I Really Am? So, when your child feels such powerful emotions and explodes in the way above, you might wonder how to (or if you should) apply your family's spirituality to the child's experience of negative news.
Conversations with God says "there is nothing you have to do" as well as "there is no such thing as right and wrong." Therefore, you may want to begin with the understanding that that there is nothing wrong with a child's expression of anger and you don't have to do anything. You can choose to let her have her own experience of the event or you can choose to help her process it. Either way, you may want to start by remembering that what your child said is not about your parenting; it is not evidence that you haven't taught her principles of love and acceptance. It is about her own sense of how the world should work as well as how people should act and be treated. In fact, that very outburst might be part of the child's exploration of Who She Really Is. That moment of passion might be the turning point which leads her along a path toward establishing world peace! If you do choose to help her process the event it might be beneficial to facilitate her understanding of the outrage and work through it, rather than stifle her expression.
Given that she is an individual with her own sense of fairness you may wish to help her process those feelings through the lens of love and spirituality. Rather than "making her wrong" for calling the person "bad," you can invite her to discuss her feelings. You can help her to ask herself if calling him a name serves a purpose, if it is something she would like another person to say about her, and if she would feel comfortable saying it to him directly. If not, you can try to help her come up with a constructive, more productive way to voice her opinion. This is not necessarily because you think she is actually going to have the opportunity to say it to that politician, directly. Rather, it is because in helping her process this event she will have a better understanding of how she wishes to treat the people she does meet (especially those with whom she might have disagreement). This clearer way of expression might even be the mode through which she can effect positive change in the world, if she chooses to do so.
elping your child arrive at the decision rather than telling him or her what to do is a huge step in his or her spiritual growth. The New Spirituality is not about prescribing behaviors, or teaching children a way to be; it is about guiding them so that they choose about how to treat (or talk about) others while staying in line with Who They Really Are.
Originally printed on The Global Conversation Online Newspaper, (2012). All Rights Reserved.