Faith in the Child Development Stages
The last time I looked, a child is born with no preconceptions, preferences or prejudices. So what the heck happens on the way to – oh wait, I guess we adults have something to say about the outcome. It’s no surprise that the baby’s brain is much like a muscle that will develop according to the path that it is taken on by their parents, their teachers, and in the case of their faith, their spiritual leaders. A bicep is toned if it is exercised with light weight and many reps, increases in size with heavier weight, and becomes flabby with no work. The purpose of this article is to emphasize the role of faith in these early child development stages.
More than you think, what is said about faiths – not your faith per se, but more so what is said about other faiths in the household will go a long way towards shaping the child’s view for the rest of their lives. Feelings of inferiority and / or superiority all can be managed before these perceptions take hold. So much of what has been said here probably sound so mundane as to provoke the question, ‘what’s your point?’ My point is that while all of this sounds like old news, it is invariably wrapped around other areas of early child development – mental development, physical development, social development, but when do you hear these words in the context of spiritual development? If we’re being honest with ourselves, the answer is, not much, if ever. It’s not a coincidence that arguably the greatest area of social conflict is in the area of faith. Our children routinely are preached to about lessons of respect, compassion and understanding, but all in the context of race, friends and most anything but faith. This leads to an underdeveloped mind when it comes to the lessons of respect, compassion and understanding for people of other faiths. Political strife in the world is certainly common place, but behind the most volatile political arenas you will find the issue of faith lurking in the shadows. There is a cause and effect here.
Think about where our country stands on the issue of race today, versus where we were only 50 years ago. Things are far from perfect, but they also are far better than they were at that time. Why is that? It’s because the schools and the government invested time and resources into educating the young minds on racial equality. Granted, we are a secular country, but teaching our young minds about spiritual diversity – respect, compassion and understanding for children and people of other faiths – does not cross the line. By the mere fact that different faiths are referenced means that we are approaching the line, but so long as we stay within the boundaries of life lessons and do not delve into the intricacies of any one religion, we are being true to our secular.
Now, can anyone say, ‘curriculum?’