The Urantia Book Fellowship

Walking with Children, Walking with God
by Sara L. Blackstock
General Conference 1990   Snowmass, Colorado

As director of a school-age day care center for the last four years, I have been blessed with a human laboratory. I work with about 180 children in grades kindergarten through fifth grade. One of the great joys of this job is the intense and real relationship which the staff and I have with the children. We live with almost 100 children daily. It is very close to a family feeling in many ways, and it is definitely a community.

Even though I am an accredited California teacher with about 25 years of teaching experience behind me, it was not until working here that I really began to experience the joys of working with children. I have come to explain the difference, to myself anyway, like this: as a teacher I had to impose a system on the children which had been orchestrated by a removed bureaucratic hierarchy. "Educating children," in such a context, almost seems to mean taking them out of their real life, relative frameworks and putting information into them.

In day care, we can live with the children in a way that is relevant to them. We can look to the children and say: "What do you want to do? We will help you do it." We can couch reading, writing, and arithmetic within the realms of carpentry, sewing, block building, puppetry, drama, animals, and games. We have the privilege of the freedom of working with children in a more natural setting, natural to their own developmental patterns. Another great advantage is that six grade levels live together, learning from and nurturing each other, along with the inevitable fights and conflicts. The first grader watches the fifth grader play Risk and then begins to model, pretending at first, playing Risk. The house area is a potent realm: the fifth graders just finish pretending to be on a date in a restaurant. They leave and within two minutes we observe the same scene, only with second graders. This process is constant. We can ask a fourth-grade child to clean and bandage a minor scrape for a kindergartner and the nurse- or doctor-to-be types just leap at this opportunity for "real life practice." All of this means that I have the privilege of observing children develop not only intellectually, but socially, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.

Throughout this talk I will be sharing examples of spiritual qualities and spiritual living as they have been gleaned from not only the above laboratory but also from the rich family experiences which parents have shared with me over the years concerning their children's development and their family environments and experiments.

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Dick Van Dyke wrote a book in 1970 called Faith, Hope and Hilarity, the Child's Eye View of Religion. It's a delightful compilation of children's questions, thoughts, feelings and personal experiences with and about God. He shares his 14-year-old daughter's statement shortly after they had moved to the desert in Arizona away from the maddening crowds. She said: "When I go walking in the desert, I realize I don't have to go making up wordsI don't have to talk to praythere's just an awareness of the Presence. I acknowledge the Spirit of God right where I am. That's praying. I know I've established a communication between myself and my Maker without having to talk."

Often, even with minimal guidance from the adult world, children seem to know about God, sense his presence and feel his love for them. I have found children, especially between the ages of 5 and 12 to be keenly responsive to concepts and talk about God; life and death; truth, beauty, and goodness; love; helping others; and suffering.

David Heller, a leading authority on children's spiritual development, discusses the emotional and spiritual growth of children as it relates to their perceptions of God. In his book, Talking to Your Child about God, he examines the crucial years between 4 and 12, when children form their most basic ideas about God and religion.

In this book he shares some of the real life letters which children have written to God:

Liz Marie, age 7, writes, "Dear Lady God, I love you. And I want to thank you for making the color pink. Pink is a beautiful creation. I think in heaven you must have made everything pink. Pink cushions, pink houses, even pink clouds. I just hope the boys don't feel too out of place. That would be too bad. I love you lots."

Tamara, age 12, writes: "It's all woven together. All of our lives. And God is at the center."

And Walt, age 10, writes: "Dear God, I love you more than anybody else that I do not know."

I have a picture of Mother Teresa on my office wall and there's nothing especially appealing about it to young children--she looks old, wrinkled, and solemn. When they ask who that sad-looking person is, I leap at the opportunity to tell them that she is one of the world's greatest spiritual leaders. Then they always ask, "What does she do?" As I tell them how she cares for some of the world's poorest people, picking up dying people off the street to help them die with peace and a sense of being loved, I can almost feel the Thought Adjuster shining through with this inspiration of greatness.

One mother wrote about her child's first expressed ability to comprehend the invisible nature of God. Her son's teacher had read The Very Hungry Caterpillar (a story about the metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly). The teacher had the children dramatize the event by crawling one-by-one into an enormous butcher paper cocoon and then emerge as butterflies. This five year old emerged with these words: "Very truthful idea--God can disappear."

In order to recognize spiritual living and acknowledge spiritual qualities in children, we have to first look at ourselves. Where are we in our spiritual and personal development? How does our level of development affect the lives of our children?

I will share with you some of my understandings of how we can work with the spiritual gifts--the adjutant spirits, the Thought Adjuster, the Spirit of Truth--to make the soil for our children's spiritual development more fertile. Finally, I would like to encourage all of us to examine what it means for us to be experiencing the combined privileges and duties of being students of the fifth epochal revelation and being "in partnership with God, raising his sons and daughters." What are our responsibilities, our hopes and visions for their lives? What can we do to provide the foundation for the skills they will need to carry the torches of truth, beauty, goodness and love so that their families, friends and society will better see the paths about which our Master came to tell us?

Seeing Through Children's Eyes

A feeling type of 6 year old told his verbal, well educated, intellectualized father who was trying to explain the Trinity of God being three persons in one, that, "There really was only one God because God fills every place and there's no room for another one. If you were a kid like me, dad, you would not have to use all of those words 'cause you would feel it." The father swallowed his humble pie and realized that his intellectualizations had interfered with his son's simple desire to feel the presence of God with his father, who needs to get in touch with his own child inside himself to be able to see where his 6-year-old boy is really at. We must look at children through the eyes of the child in ourselves.

When I was working with a group of 2 to 6 year olds, we almost became fire worshipers because a single candle in a thank you God ceremony had such an effect in its ability to set the mood for feeling the presence of God. Woe be to the one who blew it out before the proper time!

Jesus said many times that we must become as little children to enter the kingdom:

[T]he kingdom of heaven can best be realized by acquiring the spiritual attitude of a sincere child. It is not the mental immaturity of the child that I commend to you but rather the spiritual simplicity of such an easy-believing and fully-trusting little one. It is not so important that you should know about the fact of God as that you should increasingly grow in the ability to feel the presence of God. (*1733)

On page 1861 he gives us some specific qualities of children to emulate (or allow to develop in ourselves): "To come as a little child, to receive the bestowal of sonship as a gift; to submit to the doing of the Father's will without questioning and in the full confidence and genuine trustfulness of the Father's wisdom; to come into the kingdom free from prejudice and preconception; to be open-minded and teachable like an unspoiled child."

It is the "attitude of mind" and the "response of spirit" of the child which allows mortal man to enter the kingdom of heaven. We can easily observe this attitude of mind and response of spirit in children:

A seven-year-old girl who is moving out of early childhood into the next stage of youth had been experiencing a lot of temper tantrums and emotional ups and downs. After quite a few months of parental involvement in helping her to adjust to her world and control herself, she finally announced to her family one night at dinner that she had figured out what to do about meanness-- "Just fill myself up with love so full it just squeezes the meanness right out."

A five year old had been learning sign language and one day she announced to her mother she had made up a sign for God. She put both her hands on her heart and then moved them from her heart out to the world, offering her love.

We can intellectually see that these are desirable characteristics to have, but how does one get them? How do we as adults become as little children so that we may see our children through the eyes of the child of God inside of each of us? On page 1585, Jesus responds to Thomas's concern about how children are easily deceived: "When I asked you to become as little children as the price of entering the kingdom, I referred not to ease of deception, mere willingness to believe, nor to quickness to trust pleasing strangers. What I did desire that you should gather from the illustration was the child-father relationship. You are the child, and it is your Father's kingdom you seek to enter." It is our relationship with our Father that will allow us not only to enter and grow in his kingdom, but will allow us to see the spiritual qualities in our children. "[T]he divine will is observed to shine brighter and brighter in the spiritualizing acts of those creatures of time who have begun to taste the divine delights of experiencing the relationship of the personality of man with the personality of the Universal Father." (*138) As we develop our relationship with God, our light will shine brighter and clearly light the path for our children who are attracted to spiritual light like fireflies to light bulbs. One mother said it very succinctly: "Parents are limited in seeing spiritual living in their own children by their own degree of spiritual advancement. A child is likely to mirror the spirit values of their parents and, depending upon their temperament, would exhibit those values with that frame of reference."

Finding the Hidden Treasures

A man and woman had lived in their well established home for 40 years when she became ill with a slowly debilitating and terminal illness. For 40 years she had planted flowers, weeded, pruned, fertilized, and watered, but during the last year of her illness, the 90-year-old man became so inundated with the tasks of getting through each day that caring for this paradisiacal garden became bottom priority and it became overgrown with weeds. As the wife was dying, she and her husband talked about selling the house. They both decided that after she passed on and the house was put up for sale, her husband would try to sell to a family who would discover and appreciate the hidden beauties of the years of gardening work. So they decided not to fix up the garden. When the wife died, the husband put the house up for sale, but retained control over who would buy it. The house was in a desirable area and many people looked at it, but when they saw the overgrown weeds, they thought it was so ugly and would take so much landscaping work that they did not even go close to the hidden garden, but looked at the unkempt yard from a distance. One couple wanted to put in a large swimming pool where the hidden garden now was. After about 20 couples, there came a middle-aged couple with two teenage children, one of whom was a scrawny 13 year old with a bad case of acne, who had an understanding of outward ugliness and hidden beauty. As his parents were talking about the house with the old man, he walked around in the huge yard filled with weeds, looking for something unknown, and he saw a little purple flower struggling to grow above the weeds. As he parted the weeds he discovered many little miniature irises trying to get sunshine. As he looked further and deeper into the garden he saw many beginnings of plants he recognized, for his father had taught him about the beauties of nature. The family was joyful at finding what was to them a hidden treasure and they couldn't wait to begin weeding and watering. They bought the house with the tearful blessing of the joyful old man who saw the vision of the beauty of his wife's garden spring forth in his mind and he felt impatient to tell her of their good fortune in finding a family who saw the potential in the hidden garden.

What are we looking for? It is easy to see the lovely little well-tended blossoms--the child who sits in a quiet magical mesmerized state before a flickering candle singing "Jesus Loves Me" and thanking God for mommy and daddy; and we fall in love with the lovely little sweetpeas who bring mommy breakfast in bed. But how do we feel about the fifth grader who cannot bring mommy breakfast in bed--he just has to rush out to the park because about 10 friends are waiting for him to play baseball because he is the only one who really knows the rules and how to play fair. What spiritual quality is hidden? What spiritual qualities are usually ignored by the spiritual adults?

Most children at some stage or other exhibit any combination of the more obvious spiritual qualities--being kind, patient, appreciative of beauty, desirous of relieving suffering, joyous, sincere, trusting, and so forth. However, it is my experience, both personal and from observing others, that there is a tendency to negate the less obvious qualities and the ones which are more difficult to direct --love of adventure, competitive spirit, leadership, desire to show and teach others, perseverance and a sense of humor. These traits sometimes seem to be more obvious and/or stronger in male children, especially after the arrival of the Thought Adjuster.

There is a fifth-grade boy at the center who often seems to be on the receiving end of adult negativism. He has a large, strong body and is an obvious extrovert. You cannot keep him at the back of the line on a hike, and this has alienated him from teachers who desire to control such a child. Everything he thinks seems to immediately exit from his mouth in loud, aggressive statements. He can't keep his mouth shut, because he is full of suggestions and is a real problem solver, so he is immediately involved in anything of any intensity that happens. Some would call him a smart mouth and an instigator. I call him The Viking, and to me he is an obvious leader. When I have a problem that a child can help with, The Viking is the first one I will call to help me. He will be out front in the battles of life saying, "Follow me," if the adult world doesn't destroy his self-esteem for being himself. Granted, he does need to learn self-control and discrimination and temperance.

Remember the quote on page 159: "Love of adventure, curiosity, and dread of monotony--these traits inherent in evolving human nature--were not put there just to aggravate and annoy you during your short sojourn on earth, but rather to suggest to you that death is only the beginning of an endless career of adventure, an everlasting life of anticipation, an eternal voyage of discoveryNot until you traverse the last of the Havona circuits and visit the last of the Havona worlds, will the tonic of adventure and the stimulus of curiosity disappear from your career."

We can do better with this innate sense of adventure than give our children TV and Nintendo. We have become so paranoid as a society and lazy or exhausted as parents that we are denying our children the experience of calculated risks and reasonable adventures. It is very safe, we think, for them to watch violence on TV or to sit for hours playing Nintendo, safer than sharing in some other forms of entertainment or outlets for that desire for adventure. Kids have told me that they love Nintendo because of the challenge--once you conquer one level, there immediately is another one and by the time you've conquered the whole game, the company has produced another game with hundreds of levels to conquer. A little of this goes a long way, but it is surprising how many children have made this their substitute for adventure because their parents are not into camping, hiking, beaches, skiing, rock hunting, cave exploring, etc. It doesn't even have to be the parents that do these things, but it might have to be the parents who help arrange for the child to.

Our Supreme Responsibility as Parents

I don't think that recognizing spiritual living in children is a passive activity. When walking with children walking with God, we have to be aware of the path we are traversing so as not to lead them where they will stumble, for as Jesus emphatically said: "But whosoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea." (*1761) Now, obviously, because we are not the perfect parents, friends or teachers, we do cause our children to stumble, but Jesus is talking about stumbling in a very profound way, a spiritual way, a damaging way. Adults should feel a sense of responsibility when they are in the presence of children, for they should know that the child is unconsciously modeling, but with parenting the responsibility is quite encompassing. On page 941 the Chief of Seraphim stationed on Urantia tells us that "[B]ringing a child into the worldentails the supreme responsibility of human existence." This supreme responsibility begins even before conception, as the parents are thinking about when to begin a family; and relationship begins at birth, even before birth. Relationship is the fertile soil from which grows the religious and spiritual development of our children. If we are firmly rooted in our relationship to our Father, our children will be able to send deep roots of their own being into that soil and then can be observed what is talked about on page 1013: "Religious meanings progress in self-consciousness when the child transfers his ideas of omnipotence from his parents to God. And the entire religious experience of such a child is largely dependent on whether fear or love has dominated the parent-child relationship."

Springing forth from our relationship to God will come the framework of loyalties around which our children may build their lives: "Children are permanently impressed only by the loyalties of their adult associates; precept or even example is not lastingly influential. Loyal persons are growing persons, and growth is an impressive and inspiring reality. Live loyally today--grow--and tomorrow will attend to itself. The quickest way for a tadpole to become a frog is to live loyally each moment as a tadpole." (*1094)

And on page 2088, five of these sacred human loyalties are clearly presented: personal honor, family love, religious obligation, social duty, and economic necessity. These are each worthy of intense study and personal family interpretations. The authors of this revelation do not freely use the term "sacred." And these five sacred human loyalties are not learned by our conscious teaching of them to our children. They are absorbed into the deep part of their being as they watch us live our everyday lives. And if you think they are not aware of what we do and how we do it most of the time, spend a day consciously watching them watch you--stop talking at them and watch yourself as they watch you. Children are capable of the most minute observations. At the daycare center we spend a great deal of time in conflict resolution and as we guide them to talk to each other about problems and feelings and what began the negative feelings, we will get down to a tone of voice or a movement, a look, which was interpreted by one party as negating the validity of the other.

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Our relationship to God and our loyalties are the external structure we provide for our children's development psychologically and spiritually. The universe provides the great gifts--the adjutant spirits (intuition, understanding, spontaneous association of ideas, courage, knowledge, counsel, herd instinct and social development), the Thought Adjusters and the angels--as the spiritual internal structure.

Adjutant Influence

The adjutants begin to function with the acquisition of the potential of the ability to learn from experience, "[A]nd they function from the lowliest minds of primitive and invisible existences up to the highest types in the evolutionary scale of human beings. They are the source and pattern for the otherwise more or less mysterious behavior and incompletely understood quick reactions of mind to the material environment." (*739)

Do we hear how important is learning from experience? There is a rather complex quote on page 1123 talking about the fact of experience: "What is human experience? It is simply any interplay between an active and questioning self and any other active and external reality. The mass of experience is determined by depth of concept plus totality of recognition of the reality of the external. The motion of experience equals the force of expectant imagination plus the keenness of the sensory discovery of the external qualities of contacted reality. The fact of experience is found in self-consciousness plus other-existences--other-thingness, other-mindedness, and other-spiritness." This is another one of those quotes that parents and teachers could chew on for quite a while and it could really help us to determine what kind of experiences we should help our children have. Nintendo and automated robotic toys may not fit these descriptions very well. Notice the key words: active, depth, reality, imagination, sensory discovery. Do you know any parents who with a minimum of whining will buy their toddler a Donald Duck doll that quacks but will not let them play with the flour and the pots and pans?

"It is civilization's protection of the child from the natural consequences of foolish conduct that contributes so much to modern insubordination." (*941)

Do we see the connections between the beginnings of the workings of the adjutants and allowing our children to experience the natural consequences of their foolish behavior?

Now we are assuming common sense here--but the child who has never felt a hot stove or been allowed to get close enough to fire to feel its intense heat are the ones that are most likely to get burned. Children are little sensors. I have stood by a year-old child at the fireplace and watched, ready to grab hand away, as the child very carefully and slowly put the hand closer and closer to the fire until it began to get uncomfortable. I have also watched the parents of a young child with great panic grab a child away from the fire before it could feel any heat and tell the child with great emotion that the child could burn up if it got too close. We have a pool at our home which causes me great anxiety when we have our many little friends visit, but I am training myself to be a little more watchful and less reactive as they begin to experience a big body of water from the side.

Here is another example. We have a rat cult at our center--the children love to hold them and they make great pets. However, as with everything there are risks. The children are allowed to take them outside and let them run on an area called rat hill. They were plainly warned of the dangers of stepping on a rat if they did not watch where they and the rat were in relation to one another. Yes, it did happen once--a child stepped on a rat and a group of 15 children walked into the center carrying the rat, crying. The rat had not quite died, but lay in pained breathing while we all watched the life ebb away and cried together. Daily as the children take the rats out to rat hill, that story is told over and over. That one incident has done more for children being careful than any words that could be used. We let the children hold the baby rats when they are young and pink saying that if they were dropped they would die. And, yes, one was dropped and did die right before a whole circle of us. But do these experiences mean that we don't allow the children to take the rats outside or to hold baby rats? Why do we have the rats, anyway? Not for the intrinsic value of rats, for sure!

All parents should do an intense, in-depth study of the adjutants and come to understandings as to how they can provide experiential lessons in their home environments so that the adjutants can do their job. I believe that this is especially true of education--instead of accepting the "artificial and superficial education" which occurs in many of our nation's public schools. It does appear that the more we allow our children to learn from experience and provide the arenas for decisions, decisions, and more decisions, the more effective can be the work of the adjutant circuits.

Thought Adjuster Influence

"[A]llnonself desires do actually have their origin in the leadings of the indwelling Thought Adjuster, and this Adjuster is a fragment of God. The impulse of the spirit Monitor is realized in human consciousness as the urge to be altruistic, fellow-creature minded." (*1132) Once again, it is the basic responsibility of parents to think about this and explore what it means for them in their particular home environment. What I see prevalent to a dangerous degree today--and there are a number of social researchers also concerned about this phenomenon--is the influence of TV advertising on both children and parents. It could make some kind of valuable impact on the child if instead of buying the child 10 Ninja Turtles to tell the child that 3 is enough and "Let's send the money that we would spend on the other 7 to a homeless shelter."

I teach 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades at the center in our summer school. I thought it didn't go very well this summer; they seemed somewhat bored, although they were tremendously cooperative. So we had an evaluation session and I asked them what they would like to do next summer to make it more valuable for them. When put to a vote, among many suggestions for having fun and entertaining themselves, about 85% of them voted that they wanted to go out into the community and help other people in some way or another. We will try to find a way to do this next summer.

In the Sermon on the Mount on page 1575 as explanation to the fourth supreme reaction of fatherly love, "Happy are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," they also mention that "[E]very child should early learn to sacrifice."

In an old book which was used as a textbook at Berkeley High School in the 1930's, Piloting Modern Youth, Dr. William S. Sadler wrote about the value of "thwarting." On page 127 of this book it says: "The non-thwarting idea is fundamentally wrong. The moment a child steps out into the workaday world, it is certain to be thwarted; this is the common lot of man. The ability to redirect impulses, to modify emotions, to curb appetites and control longings is absolutely essential to personality development and social progress. Society demands graceful submission to thwarting on the part of every individual. Thwarting, then, is natural and inevitable. It is a part of human evolution. We cannot always have our wayDisappointment is unavoidable. During very early nursery days, the child should be introduced to the idea that it cannot always have its way. It should clearly be trained in the art of becoming more or less disappointment proof. By this means many of the serious personality breakdowns of later adolescence can be prevented." Providing neat things, fun and entertainment for children are some of the more enjoyable parts of being a parent. If other activities are in balance for the child, then it is doubtful that any one activity will hurt. But it does seem that it is rather imbalanced today. I have asked many teenagers what their favorite activity is--Nintendo and shopping. I have asked them what their parents like to do on the weekends--TV and shopping.


What else can they be doing? Listen to what 15 year olds do on that other continent we are told about: "Children remain legally subject to their parents until they are fifteen when the first initiation into civic responsibility is held. Thereafter, every five years for five successive periods similar public exercises are held for such age groups at which their obligations to parents are lessened, while their new civic and social responsibilities to the state are assumed." (*811) Suffrage is conferred at 20--look how well prepared they are while our 20 year olds almost lay down their lives to see Led Zeppelin or Madonna. One thing is for sure--the time to begin to think about these things is not when our kids are 13 or 14.

Although children can be very, very selfish and egoistic, all of us see many examples of the beautiful caring and giving that most children are involved with all the time. How many of you have stacks (or would have if you had saved them all) of all of the drawings and sweet sayings you have been given?

Angel Influence

Jesus told his apostles on page 1761: "[F]or their angels do always behold the faces of the heavenly hosts."

In times of crisis many of us have experienced being upheld by the angels in our experiences of intense grief and shock. Going through this with children can be mightily inspiring--watching them be held by the angels and allowing themselves to be carried in the arms of loved ones, even when they have experienced the loss of a loved one.

I will share with you the most profound experience of my life with children and loss and being upheld by the angels. About one and a half years ago my sister committed suicide. Her two children, aged 10 and 12 came home from school and found her dead in her bedroom; although she had put up a chair in front of the door and they couldn't get in, they could see her feet and part of her lying on the floor. When they found they couldn't get to her, they called their father who works about one and a half hours away, and when they couldn't get him, they went out into the backyard to wait for him. When I asked them what they did out there, they said they cried. They said the hardest part (not including what they had gone through) was telling their father when he walked through the door. Do you think that the angels were holding these two children as they cried and waited?

My husband and I picked them up that night and brought them back to our home. The children and I were in one car and my husband and their father in the other. It was an exceptionally beautiful nightspringtime, full moon. As we drove through the hills we all commented on the beauty of the hills silhouetted by the full moon and shared with each other about the beautiful night in the midst of great sorrow. How amazing that these children were able to see the beauty of that night! We were very open to the process of being ministered to by the angels.

The 12-year-old girl asked me to type a letter to her mother the day after her mother had died. At this point of perhaps the greatest grief that could be experienced by a child, she had the presence of mind to want to communicate her last thoughts to her mother. She read this at her mother's open casket and then placed the letter in her mother's folded hands:

"Dear Mommy, We are sorry you are not with us. We may not know why this has happened but you probably know yourself for many reasons. We will always remember the good and happy times we spent with you. In our hearts those moments will never perish. We hope that you are at rest and peace without any worries or problems. God is with you and you are with God."

Stages of Moral and Spiritual Development

"[Jesus] taught morality, not from the nature of man, but from the relation of man to God." (*1585) Morality is completely tied up with relationship. Remember what the chief of seraphim tells us on page 942: "Family life is the progenitor of true morality, the ancestor of the consciousness of loyalty to duty. The enforced associations of family life stabilize personality and stimulate its growth through the compulsion of necessitous adjustment to other and diverse personalities. But even more, a true family--a good family--reveals to the parental procreators the attitude of the Creator to his children, while at the same time such true parents portray to their children the first of a long series of ascending disclosures of the love of the Paradise parent of all universe children."

It is within the family that the child first learns of his/her value, first to the parents, then to self, then to the world. Before children can give to others, they first have to have a self from which to give. "But before a child has developed sufficiently to acquire moral capacity and therefore to be able to choose altruistic service, he has already developed a strong and well-unified egoistic natureVery early in life, the normal child begins to learn that it is `more blessed to give than to receive.'" (*1131)

Children learn how to treat others by modeling the way the people they love and respect treat each other and others. If a child has a problem with bad language or putting others down, we ask the child if s/he has been put down at home. Most often they say they do hear bad language in the home and that they are put down in the home, either by parents or older siblings.

On page 1585 Jesus says, "[T]he morality of any act is determined by the individual's motive." If a child's motive is throughout life to get something that it didn't get in the early years, it is very difficult for that child to truly think of others; to live the golden rule as restated by Jesus which is to do to others as you think Jesus would do to you.

The children whose basic needs have not been fulfilled are very needy and at all junctures, their own needs take precedence over the needs of others. This can be lessened as we work to uplift their basic self-esteem. We can almost tell within a couple of days if a new child comes from a home whose parents understand and employ excellent child development principles in their rearing. The children are very sensitive to the needs of others, are usually good listeners, really hear what's being said, and respond appropriately.

What is the connection between moral development and spiritual development? "When mind chooses a right moral judgment by an act of the free will, such a decision constitutes a religious experience." (*1131)

Innate Moral Nature--"The psychology of a child is naturally positive, not negative. So many mortals are negative because they were so trained.In the absence of wrong teaching, the mind of the normal child moves positively, in the emergence of religious consciousness, toward moral righteousness and social ministry, rather than negatively, away from sin and guilt." (*1131)

"The Adjusters cannot invade the mortal mind until it has been duly prepared by the indwelling ministry of the adjutant mind-spirits and encircuited in the Holy Spirit. And it requires the co-ordinate function of all seven adjutants to thus qualify the human mind for the reception of an Adjuster. Creature mind must exhibit the worship outreach and indicate wisdom function by exhibiting the ability to choose between the emerging values of good and evil--moral choice." (*1187)

It seems that there are always some children who give into the temptation to steal. When I first began working with children, I was disgusted with this, but have since found it not that unusual. It can happen in the best of homes and can be a tremendous opportunity for the child to be called to make a decision about this problem. Some children get very good at denial and would convince the best adult judge of his/her innocence. After working with children, an adult develops almost a sixth sense about the child. It is very important to be correct about the judgment; it is very important for the child to be caught and experience consequences. There are a number of good books out on how to handle this issue. I use "catching" a child as an opportunity to very directly talk to them about this being an opportunity for making a decision to become strong. We talk about how stealing makes one feel weak inside, and every child I have talked to about this knows exactly the feeling I am describing. Every child wants to be strong; to have power; to have control over themselves for as I ask them: "If you do not control yourself, who will?," they of course will answer in some fashion or another, "Someone else." Children like to think they have some degree of control over their own lives and what they do. This is a very appealing argument for them. I will then have the child, if they are able, to write an agreement with me about their decision they must make. They can have several days to think about it, but these decisions can happen on the spot.

"Time is essential to all types of human adjustment--physical, social or economic. Only moral and spiritual adjustments can be made on the spur of the moment and even these require the passing of time for the full outworking of their material and social repercussions." (*911)

Many of the children when they enter daycare at five or so, probably do not have their Thought Adjusters. There seems to be a lack of self-consciousness and some of them have not progressed from stage zero of moral reasoning which is: "Whatever I want is what's fair." In raising good children, Dr. Thomas Lickona outlines the stages of moral development as first shown in three decades of research by Harvard University psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg who is a widely recognized leading figure in the psychology of moral development. It is important to understand the process of moral reasoning from inside a child's mind. This helps us to appreciate the different stages children go through rather than expecting impossible things of them and belittling them for not being able to meet your expectations. For instance, it is good for fathers to have high standards and challenge their children's growth, but research shows that unfortunately, because of this lack of knowledge, father's expectations are generally two years ahead of what the child is really capable of, causing problems all around. Stage 1 is: You should do what you are told; stage 2 is: What's in it for me?; stage 3 is: What will people think of me?; stage 4 is: What if everybody did it?; and stage 5 is: Respect the rights of every person.

"Man's choosing between good and evil is influenced, not only by the keenness of his moral nature, but also by such influences as ignorance, immaturity, and delusion. A sense of proportion is also concerned in the exercise of virtue because evil may be perpetrated when the lesser is chosen in the place of the greater as a result of distortion or deception. The art of relative estimation or comparative measurement enters into the practice of the virtues of the moral realm." (*193)

What is the connection between moral development and spirituality? "Every time man makes a reflective moral choice, he immediately experiences a new divine invasion of his soul. Moral choosing constitutes religion as the motive of inner response to outer conditions." (*2095)

External Environment

We have been looking more at the psychological and spiritual climate of the internal development of the child. What kind of external environment is conducive to the development of the child's personal relationship to God; to the working of the adjutant spirits, the angels and the Thought Adjuster; to moral development and personal spiritual experience?

In his book Talking to Children about God, David Heller talks about the importance of planning a "spiritually enlightened home," for of course this is where it all begins as we shoot them from our arrows. This is as varied as personal home environments. Heller says, "In your home, religion is the spiritual atmosphere that you create through your everyday parenting. You may attend formal religious services every week, but your spiritual life is experienced each and every moment." (pg. 11)

Great Value of Beauty

"It was also at Jericho, in connection with the discussion of the early religious training of children in habits of divine worship, that Jesus impressed upon his apostles the great value of beauty as an influence leading to the urge to worship, especially with children. The Master by precept and example taught the value of worshiping the Creator in the midst of the natural surroundings of creationWhen it is not possible to worship God in the tabernacles of nature, men should do their best to provide houses of beauty, sanctuaries of appealing simplicity and artistic embellishment, so that the highest of human emotions may be aroused in association with the intellectual approach to spiritual communion with God. Truth, beauty, and holiness are powerful and effective aids to true worship. But spirit communion is not promoted by mere massive ornateness and overmuch embellishment with man's elaborate and ostentatious art. Beauty is most religious when it is most simple and naturelike. How unfortunate that little children should have their first introduction to concepts of public worship in cold and barren rooms so devoid of the beauty appeal and so empty of all suggestion of good cheer and inspiring holiness! The child should be introduced to worship in nature's outdoors and later accompany his parents to public houses of religious assembly which are at least as materially attractive and artistically beautiful as the home in which he is daily domiciled." (*1840)

It would appear that we are given some direct instruction here as to the best ways for children to be introduced to worship--in nature's outdoors. So, parents, don't feel guilty about taking that Sunday walk with your children and having a family worship time.

It is our privilege and duty to work with the subtle yet real and powerful spiritual influences as we both progress in our own relationship with God and our growth toward the Supreme, and provide the environment and guidance for children to experience a growing relationship to their spiritual Father. Many parents who are spiritually committed are discovering arenas for working with children in many phases of our lives.

One mother conducted a study, using her daughter's preschool as her research arena, to find out about the relationship of fathers with their children based on their involvement with them since birth. She has extended this study to many other preschools and the study has of course shown that the more involvement fathers have with their children since birth, the closer is their relationship at the preschool age. Another sideline that has turned out to be very satisfying are the numerous profound and spiritual discussions she has enjoyed with fathers regarding the results of the study.

I would imagine that the hope of all of us is that our children know God as their Father. Many of us would find great joy if they would discover the fifth epochal revelation in a personal way and would embrace and participate in it on a personal level so as to make their life richer, spiritually, philosophically, psychologically and socially; and some of us would extend our dreams even a little further out for our children--that some of them might become the mighty leaders that page 2082 talks about: "Religion does need new leaders, spiritual men and women who will dare to depend solely on Jesus and his incomparable teachings[T]hese new teachers of Jesus' religionwill be exclusively devoted to the spiritual regeneration of men. And then will these spirit-born souls quickly supply the leadership and inspiration requisite for the social, moral, economic and political reorganization of the world."

And as we all know, the social, moral, economic and political reorganization of the world begins at home.


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