Nurturing Your Child’s Soul, Not Just Their Mind and Body
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (more parenting articles are available)
Raising a child is a huge commitment. You are responsible for nurturing not only your child’s mind and body but also their soul. You receive help in nurturing your child’s body right from the beginning. Nurses, midwives and pediatricians provide guidance on feeding and caring for your baby.
Soon you have help from various schools and organizations in developing your child’s mind. Teachers, administrators and government officials all play a role. They influence what your children will learn at different ages.
Where do you turn for help in nurturing your child’s soul? If you belong to a religious community, you will receive direction from them. If you are not part of a religious community or want more support, where can you find it?
Finding Ways To Nurture Your Child’s Soul
What does your child’s soul need? One fundamental need is for your children to be seen and heard from their deepest selves.
How can you help your child feel seen and heard? Some things you can do include:
- Giving them your undivided attention for at least a few minutes every day
- Encouraging them to have their own opinions and ideas even if they don’t match yours
- Showing respect for their bodies
- Treating them with kindness
- Allowing them to grow and change without trying to hold them back
- Seeking forgiveness and providing forgiveness
When you hold space for your children to share their thoughts and feelings, they deepen their understanding of their authentic selves. It’s like you are holding a mirror up so that they can see their inner beauty.
Nurturing your children’s souls involves encouraging them to develop a strong moral ground
from which to use their gifts and talents. This includes things like:
- Having the courage to do what is right even when it’s difficult
- Treating others with respect
- Showing compassion to others
- Being kind to all living creatures
- Taking care of the environment
When your children follow their values and morals, they will be able to best use their talents.
Putting The Soul in Control
Developing self-control is also essential for your children to live from their souls. Without self-control, your child’s body or mind will gladly fill in as the commander.
Allowing the mind or body to run the show can lead to problems like:
- Causing damage by acting out of anger
- Bullying, being mean to others
- Alcohol and drug addiction
- Sex and porn addiction
- Internet addiction
- Eating disorders
Your children’s souls are responsible for putting the brakes on their behavior. You can help your children stop poor behavior choices when they are young. However, the older they get the more they are responsible for making wise choices. Along with this increasing responsibility are increasing consequences from people outside your family.
Encouraging a Meaningful, Soul-Directed Life
Part of growing up is your kids discovering what they find most meaningful in life. It could be bringing others joy through playing music, cooking delicious meals, listening to problems, inventing ways to make life better or taking care of others. The possibilities are limitless.
How do you help your children live authentically? Annie Burnside compares being a butterfly mom to a tiger mom in her book, From Role to Soul
In this excerpt she explains the desires she has for her children as a butterfly mom:
“Is success primarily about status, financial gain, and intellectual achievement stemming from a ‘survival of the fittest’ paradigm? As a butterfly mom, I hold a much different view of success. From a butterfly mom’s perspective, success is much more about a child’s metamorphosis from a beautiful, divine caterpillar – perfect already in every way despite any outward appearances to the contrary – into a conscious global citizen who knows their own heart. … the butterfly mom’s deepest desire for her children is the ability to live true, courageously, and comfortably within their own skins. … Such children radiate a love of self and others. Fostering authenticity, which involves being liberated to live one’s soul purpose, is the ultimate gift a butterfly mom offers her child.”
What is the ultimate gift you want to give your children? Instilling the courage to live a soul driven life is a pretty special gift.