A child is someone who is not yet considered to be an adult. A child can also mean a son or daughter of any age whatsoever. For the purpose of this article, we consider a child to be someone who is still under his/her parents’ guidance.
Children have certain duties they must perform for the parents. For example, they must be obedient, show gratitude, behave well, be polite when addressing their parents etc. Children are humans and have human needs. They also have additional needs unique to their particular situation. It is a profound responsibility of parents to provide for these needs. The parents too have duties towards their children. They have to provide food, shelter, physical safety, emotional security, developmental needs, social skills, internal skills. They also need to be provided with academic education and career abilities.
To become functioning adults, children need to learn all kinds of things, both at school and outside of school and home because many abilities that are useful in developing careers are not taught at school. This can be very much an exploratory activity as children discover their talents and the things that motivate them. They must also be provided with moral and spiritual guidance. This article sets out to examine how parents can help to develop the spiritual intelligence of their children.
The concept of spiritual intelligence:
To understand spiritual intelligence it is useful first to be clear on what we mean when we use these two words.
To be ‘spiritual’ is to think, act and interact from an awareness of self as spirit, not form or body. Most of us sometimes feel we are physical forms, and so we identify with our body or the labels we give to our bodies such as nationality, tribe, gender, profession etc. This wrong sense of self is what creates all fear, anger and sadness in life. These block access to our true spiritual nature which is peaceful, loving and joyful.
Intelligence is to use what we know in the right way, at the right time, in the right place, with the right intention.
If I ‘know’ myself as a spiritual being I will also ‘know’ that I do not own or possess anything.
When something in my life is damaged or lost, it does not affect me in any adverse way. I am able to use my spiritual power to accept and move on. If someone praises my new immaculate white religious habit and veil, or insults me in any way or comments negatively about my body figure or defect, I am not affected because I ‘know’ that my real beauty lies within my character, within my nature, which no one can ever take away. In that moment I draw on the inner power of that knowledge and use it to remain stable in the face of the other’s negativity. In effect, I am drawing on my spiritual strength which is only released when I know who and what I am, and then using that strength in the right way, in the right place at the right time.
Spiritual intelligence: Living righteously.
The world is in so much chaos because adults have only academic intelligence, physical intelligence, musical intelligence etc, but not much spiritual intelligence. It is very important for parents to help their children develop spiritual intelligence.
The general society will be better for it. Many people will achieve their life’s purpose and goal.
Spiritual intelligence is about helping the child to have a sound mind that is manifested in living righteously.
They can do it in the following ways:
- By example: Parents themselves should strive all the time to live like spiritually intelligent people. They should live righteous life: live right, talk right, think right, behave right, relate right, do business right.
- Teaching: Parents should teach their children what spiritual intelligence is. They can explain that being spiritually intelligent in a family context allows the children to be obedient, hardworking, understanding, gentle. They will learn not to bully and fight in school. They will learn not to steal and not to keep malice. They will also learn that when spiritual intelligence is brought into the workplace when they grow older work ceases to become a daily chore in order to earn money, and becomes a creative process of service and contribution. They will learn not to see and treat other people as objects/resources to get a job done. They will learn to build trust, act with integrity, empathize at a level beyond emotion, and become good leaders.
- Church: Parents should allow their children to take part in Church activities: Sunday school, catechism, boys/girls brigade etc. In most of these groups children are taught the right way to live and do things.
In this year of the family, special attention should be paid to children and not just to couples. Children are included in the concept of family. Children form an important part of the family, hence care and attention must be given to them. Parents have the right and duty not just to send their children to very good schools, but also to help them develop and acquire spiritual skills that will guarantee a happy future for them. We cannot overemphasize the importance of being spiritually intelligent. It enables one to stay calm and focused in the face of crisis and chaos and have a sound mind. I once asked a group of children at a Sunday school to list the character traits they admire in a spiritual leader they love. The answer included descriptors such as: loving, kind, forgiving, peaceful, courageous, honest, generous, persistent, faithful, wise, and inspiring. These are the same traits children will get when parents sit up to do their duty of developing the spiritual intelligence of their children.
- SQ 21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence by Cindy Wigglesworth.
- The times of India, march 27, 2011. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/5343214.cms? Cindy Wigglesworth, Spiritual Intelligence and Why It Matters, 2002.
- The needs of children. http://changingminds.org/explanations/needs/children_needs.htm
- The role of children in the home, Felicia Agha-Okoro, SHC Chronicles.
Juliana Kemi Osiyemi is a member of the Institute of the Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. She is presently on the leadership team of her Institute. She is a woman of simplicity and integrity. She is gifted in relational and administrative skills. She loves imparting knowledge to both young and old.