Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Measuring Up - Helping Our Teens Mark Spiritual Strength

-Body and Spirit -Marking Growth

While in the home of a friend I noticed four wooden rods vertically mounted and evenly spaced on her wall. They were painted to compliment her d├ęcor and had dates, events and numbers etched upon them.  Because I had always used a hidden door jam to measure my children’s growth, I was surprised to learn that they were her children’s growth charts. Nailed to the wall
in a well-traveled part of her home, they measured not only physical growth but marked significant spiritual strengths (blessings, baptism, etc) as well. They served as daily reminders to her teenagers of their growth in both physical and spiritual measures.

Because I knew their son was popular and accomplished at high school sports, I was surprised to see that these others successes were not included.  I was told that the chart was to help their son remember our souls are made of both body and spirit.  They hoped the growth stick would help remind him of where he should direct his greatest energy.  They wanted him to understand that when we nurture our body and spirit we set a strong foundation for life success.  They were teaching their son that true success comes from knowing who you are, both in body and in spirit.

-Home Patterns

Home is where we measure our physical growth and have opportunity for spiritual experience. Home is where with our parents help we strive to uncover life's truths that will help us discover our spiritual and physical strengths. With a parents help teens can grow strong both physically and spiritually by creating healthy habits and establishing life patterns.

So important are life patterns that  that Dean L. Larsen commented in his talk entitled "A Royal Generation":

 The influence of the family has a greater effect upon what we think, how we feel, and what we do about our lives than all of the other sources of influence combined.

-Spiritual Strengths

Parents often use growth charts to measure the physical growth of young children. This growth continues through to a child's teen years until (relatively speaking) it begins to taper off.   As teenagers begin to settle into their adult body their spirit begins to find strength and new awareness.  Like the childhood years that are marked with physical growth teens begin to show marked and measured spiritual maturity. Wise parents can help their teenagers experience and recognize their spiritual growth just as visibly as the chart that measures their physical growth.

-Exercising the Spirit

The measurement of spiritual growth brings great rewards. I believe that when our spirits are strong our bodies respond and visa versa. Helping a child develop spiritually will bring success to many areas of their lives. As parents we must show them how to have faith in things that we cannot always see or understand with our physical senses.
A few things I have considered that might help our children measure their spiritual growth:

  • Remind them of their spiritual natures - Our souls are both spirit and body. 
  • Remind them they are children of a God who loves them.
  • Create opportunities for them to discover their spiritual natures by building strong communication skills with others, family, and God. 
  • Share your own convictions and faith building experiences with them.
  • Read with them from Holy Scripture and search as a family to understand spiritual truths.
  • Teach them that "Kindness Matters" in all areas of their life and with all people. 
  • Help them plan to plan to share in service opportunities within your  family, community, or church. 
  • Teach them how to have personal prayer and how to listen for answers to prayer. 
  • Teach them that it is okay to question what they don't understand. 
  • Teach them to use prayer, scripture, meditation, and study to find personal answers. 
  • Accept that God has a plan for each of his children and as parents it is our job to help our children discover their own plan. 
  • Encourage them to share experiences that have strengthened their faith 
  • Encourage them to listen to and learn from spiritual leaders.
  • Help them choose activities that will strengthen them
  • Help them set goals that build strong character skills. 
  • Encourage them to stand strong for truth
How do  you teach your children about their spiritual nature and strengths? 

Do you have something that worked especially well in your family? 

by Linda Shaw 

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