Spiritual education is a keystone of how I am raising my sons, and I am always inspired to hear how other parents are working to raise their children along a spiritual path. In the series Parenting and Faith I feature posts from bloggers discussing how their religion or philosophy influences their parenting. I am so pleased to share today’s post, which comes to us from my friend Stephen of Head of the Heard, a fellow member of Multicultural Kid Blogs.
At first glance I shouldn’t be writing anything for this series on faith and parenting because I have no faith. I was brought up a Catholic, but by the age of 16 I had decided that wasn’t for me. I spent a few years investigating other faiths and one of the reasons I started to travel a bit was to look for different ideas. One of the attractions of living in Taiwan for a year was that it was a Buddhist country so I would be able to find out a bit more about that religion.
After a while, though, I stopped searching for a religion that could offer me answers and decided that there probably isn’t a god of any description. If this was true then I had to find some other way of bringing order and meaning to my life.
The fact that I don’t believe in a god does not mean that I am not spiritual. For me, spirituality is all about asking ourselves the big questions and searching for answers. Those questions run along the lines of Why are we here? What are we supposed to do with our time here? Is there any meaning to this life? Where can I get a decent cup of tea?
I have found my own answers through science and philosophy, but I don’t have any claim to being right. I think I am right, but I don’t know I am right. And the search for answers to these questions is ongoing. I need to challenge my ideas all the time by reading, talking to people and observing the world. Ask me in 10 years what I believe and it might be exactly the same as today, or it could be totally different. Anyone who says they know the truth is lying and should not be trusted.
It is this search for my answers and distrust of self appointed authorities that informs my parenting style. I want my son to question everything and everyone. I don’t want him to accept an answer just because I told him it was true. Many parents hate the phase of the constant questions from toddlers; I am learning to love it.
While he is questioning everyone he also needs to learn that other people are also on their own journey of discovery. Some will be happy with the answers they learn as children, some will never find their answers. Whatever their state, he needs to accept that it is the journey that is important and everyone has the right to find their own path without being judged by anyone else. We try to teach that respect of everyone else is key to being a good human.
And then there is one other thing that I learned from looking into different religions and humanism: the Golden Rule. This rule is present in all of the major religions and most of the minor ones as well. It can be found in the writings of Ancient Egypt and Babylon over 4, 000 years ago. The words might be slightly different in each case but the meaning is the same. My personal favourite is that of Confucius from about 500 BCE:
“Do not do to others what you do not want to yourself. You only need this law alone. It is the foundation of all the rest.”
If my son, and everybody’s son and daughter could learn to live by this law alone then we would truly have found paradise on earth, no matter what your religion might be.
Stephen Greene is an English language teacher, teacher trainer and materials developer from the UK living in Brazil. He blogs about language teaching at tmenglish.org. When he is not teaching people the difference between ‘pretend’ and ‘intend’ he also blogs about raising a biliingual family and being an expat dad in Curitiba at Head of the Heard. You can follow Stephen on twitter @hoftheh or like his Facebook page.