Creative Fatherhood: A Topical Study
Creativity in the Spiritual Education of Children
By Patrick Yesh
"For more than an hour Jesus and John continued this discussion of home life. The master went on to explain to John how a child is wholly dependent on his parents and the associated home life for all his early concepts of everything intellectual, social, moral, and even spiritual since the family represents to the young child all that he can first know of either human or divine relationships. The child must derive his first impressions of the universe from the mother's care; he is wholly dependent on the earthly father for his first ideas of the heavenly Father. The child's subsequent life is made happy or unhappy, easy or difficult, in accordance with his early mental and emotional life, conditioned by these social and spiritual relationships of the home. A human being's entire afterlife is enormously influenced by what happens during the first few years of existence." (p.1922)
The opening quote holds great import for child psychologists, parents, and child care workers. It is a warning of great responsibility to parents for the welfare of their children's entire afterlife. Children will project the qualities of God from their experiences with mom and dad. A child's social relationship behaviors take root in the family-home environment. Jesus' words to John offer a challenge to Urantia parents to create models of beautiful spiritual families. One challenge for parents is to open the inner life of their children, their inner life of spiritual creativity.
Creativity is one of the qualities that the Universe Father passes on to all his children. "Personality is inherently creative, but it thus functions only in the inner life of the individual." (p.1220) This creativity can be augmented when we join our will to God's. More than this, if one considers that God is the creative source of the universe, and a fragment of Him lives in each of us, then when we join our will to His in any creative endeavor, it may be His creativity that we feel flowing through us. This paper addresses the task of how parents can creatively teach children to see, hear, and speak in the ways of the spirit, so they continue through their life to grow in spirit perception and build spiritual relationships. First we will look at creativity and spiritual mind training from The Urantia Book perspective, Jesus' life examples, and then from a perspective of psychological and educational research. The condition of home and family today will be addressed. And finally, suggestions for immediate creative activities which will augment spiritual perception within the family will be offered.
The Vissells write in their book, Models of Love, "To be our child's first spiritual teacher is one of the greatest and most rewarding privileges a human being can have. There is no higher profession. In addition, there is no greater gift we can give the world than a child who is spiritually aware. We as parents must acknowledge and feel in our hearts the sacredness of our work." (p.13)
To listen with "The ear of spirit" (p.1605), see with the "eye of spiritual faith" (p.1960), speak the "language of the spirit" (p.1605), and "(grow) up in spirit perception" (p.1605) are metaphors that Jesus used with his apostles to create an image of living in the spiritual world simultaneously, while living in the human world. Through living faith we create our spiritual world and that of our children's.
True human creativity lies in the mind, the inner life of the child and the adult. Children's minds can be gently guided towards matters of truth, beauty, goodness, and love. Children can be encouraged to be gentle and patient with themselves and others. Parents must be attentive to the natural talents of their children and nourish them. They can give their children enrichment opportunities and teach them how to socialize their talents, to yield the fruits of the spirit through their talents, and to worship God with their talents. (p.1918)
The rugged self-discipline recommended in The Urantia Book is a bit easier in later life if started at an early age in the home. Raising a family is a creative tap dance at best, where parents improvise most of the time. That tap dance can be fun if parents have an attitude of play, rather than reacting out of crisis in problem solving. Parents can approach family situations like Jesus did; consult the Father first, and put your inherent creative energies of mind and soul together with those of your creative children. Then find exciting methods to solve your daily problems of adjustments in family life. Teach children creative methods of problem solving by example--how to fatten on adversity. Rodan gives us an extraordinary method of problem solving. (p.1773-74)
CREATIVE SUPER-EGO BUILDING:
Self-image and self-esteem are closely tied together. The child's perception that her role in the family is important, is crucial to her self-worth. A child can also feel good if she perceives herself as a special member of a spiritual family. The Urantia writers tell us "the purpose of all education is to foster and further the supreme purpose of life, the development of a majestic and well-balanced personality." (p.2086) This can result in a superb self-image, the ultimate creative act. We as parents have to model this supernal self-image and self-esteem for it to transfer to our children.
In my opinion, a majestic and well-balanced personality can only be experienced by children and parents who have a self-image of themselves as spiritual personalities in the "living temple of spiritual fellowship," souls on their way to Paradise, Christian soldiers, members of the spiritual brotherhood in the kingdom of God. These are values that can transfer from parent to child. The child must "FEEL" this loyalty of the parent to the spiritual self-ideal over a long period of time, before it will become the child's self-image. The parent must be loyal to the children, and loyal to the Jesus-like ideal of family life.
Healthy ego-strength that psychologists speak of comes from just such a strong self-image with high positive self-worth and self-confidence. This confidence comes from the security a child feels when he or she knows love, and is secure in the arms of the spiritual Father as well as being secure within the parents' love.
We must make it a priority to train children to use their superconscious often and help them develop their majestic, well-balanced personality. 21st century soul-psychology is outlined in the Thought Adjuster section of The Urantia Book, and it has spiritual ramifications in child rearing. By studying this spiritual psychology, we can help release the creative potential in ourselves and our children. Soul-psychology does not focus on the past, but rather on the magnificent opportunities for the present and future development of our personalities, and of the beautiful nature of our pre-morontia souls.
JESUS AS OUR TEACHER AND PARENT MODEL
Jesus called his apostles his spiritual children in the spirit family of heaven. He used the earth family as an illustration of divine relationships. (p.1605) Often the apostles interpreted the meanings of Jesus' analogies literally, just as a child would. Jesus wanted to address the apostles as full grown men of the kingdom, but he said that he would bear with them patiently even to their earthly end, even if he had to continue to address them as children. Jesus is a model teacher of patience and forbearance, teaching the adult as patiently as the child. He used child type analogies to convey meanings even to adults. We learn from Jesus' example how to teach patiently to the spirit capacity and receptivity of any member of our family. Consider his method of teaching in parables.
As full grown members of the kingdom, with Jesus' help we can teach children the way children are best taught at certain ages. Being creative spiritual teachers of children means learning about good teaching methods, something many parents need to know.
We are all spiritual children in a spiritual family: we are all soul-children in a spiritual family. We all have very young souls. We must activate our own cosmic soul-child within us in order to become a model for our children. In this way they may develop a sense of their souls, so they can hear with the ear of their spirit. Jesus said we must become as a little child to gain entrance to the Father's kingdom--to know the Father-child relationship. (p.1585) By being around children and intimately interacting with them, parents can remain childlike and innocent and see God with the eyes of a child, the eyes of our trusting soul-child. Jesus wants us to identify ourselves, not as an ego-self, but as our soul self. (p.1229) I said to my son that God lives inside him. He responded quizzically, "Is he that small?"
He just experienced his 5th birthday and said he knew his Thought Adjuster had arrived months ago because, "He told me so."
CREATIVITY, THE PARENT AND THE CHILD
Inner creativity contributes to ennoblement of character through personality integration and selfhood unification. (p.1221)
I have two young school children and a 26-year-old daughter. I am a teacher of children, adults and seniors in the fine arts. I often give workshops in using art as therapy. I researched the creative process and how it can liberate one's spirit, heal and integrate a troubled personality, and help one to problem solve. I interact with many children and adults every day, creating art. I have to be creative everyday in teaching others how to be creative. I know my great frustration at not having time to create my own paintings, because of earthly duties to family and community.
Jesus too was frustrated in his artistic activities (p.1367) at an early age (9), forbidden by Jewish tradition to engage in the creation of imaginative art. Not to create artistically was one of his most trying adjustments as he complied with his parents' wishes. It appears that he sublimated his frustrated need to be artistically creative to everything else he did. He became a creative thinker, parent and teacher. Jesus exercised his creativity by blending the spiritual with the practical needs of his family. "He was an artist in the matter of adjusting his dedication to duty to his obligations of family loyalty and social service." (p.1384) These were daily adjustments of his between realms of loyalty to one's personal convictions and duty toward one's family. He blended this into a "masterful concept of group solidarity based upon loyalty, fairness, tolerance, and love." (p.1372) He was also accomplished at music, an art form that was allowed. His example of sublimated creative energy can be studied by all Urantian parents, especially fathers and fathers to be.
THE HEALING QUALITY OF CREATIVITY
"If freewill man is endowed with the powers of creativity in the inner man, then must we recognize that freewill creativity embraces the potential of freewill destructivity. And when creativity is turned to destructivity, you are face to face with the devastation of evil and sin--oppression, war, and destruction. Evil is a partiality of creativity which tends toward disintegration and eventual destruction." "All conflict is evil in that it inhibits the creative function of the inner life--it is a species of civil war in the personality." (p.1220)
Allowing creativity to flow through you is a wonderful healing adventure to the body, mind, and spirit. Being creative integrates the personality. I have seen that if creativity is blocked in children, continuing neurosis can be the result. Let us help our children to be creative in all ways--even in their peer and social relationships. They can follow Jesus' youthful example. As a young man of 11 he shows the example of creating a boys' club, a "society for promoting the acquirements of manhood--physical, intellectual, and religious." (p.1368) These boys created new games and various methods of improved physical recreation. Many such groups exist today for children. Opportunities are there for service volunteers, male and female, married and single, adults and children. At 10 years Jesus and his friend were given clay by Nathan to "stimulate their creative imaginations by suggesting competitive efforts on modeling various objects and animals." (p.1364) Joseph left him blocks of wood and shavings in the corner of the workshop. (p.1361) Jesus at 6 was doing what all children naturally do, expressing himself with sand play and blocks. (p.1359) Today sand play is a technique used by art therapists to help children express themselves. Jesus was also reading Greek at 5 years.
Families today need to know how to play, work and worship together. Much of my continuing research on spiritually ideal, family lifestyles has its roots in Julia Fenderson's earlier works on parenting and child rearing. She once told me of the importance of having others continue her work in guiding parents into more spiritually fruitful family practices. Parents can learn much from her original papers which focus on Jesus' inspiring life, along with suggestions for training people for parenthood. Jesus is the ultimate role model of a creative parent, a creative father and brother (see Part 2 of this paper on Creative Fatherhood).
FAMILIES TODAY: WARNING FLAGS ARE UP
As a teacher in this last decade I know that in many classes there are over 50% single-parent children. I don't think society and the schools realize how dangerous this situation is to our culture. Basically it means that peer value systems dominate over mature adult value systems. Media violence, insipid role models of violent, Hollywood, cartoon characters, and Much Music clowns become adolescent and early childhood heroes. Up to the age of eight the human mind is a non-discrete sponge soaking up experience and information that will set the child's character for the rest of his or her life.
The Thought Adjuster comes into the child's mind at five. Then starts the soul's growth; the inner life of the child becomes the temple of God with all its magnificent potential. Children need an outside home-temple that reflects the beauty and intimacy of their inner temple. They need an outside stimulus of rich spiritual import to match the divine presence within. This is an important time and opportunity for the parent to become the spiritual teacher and model.
At its worst this early age of the child can be the beginning of many neurotic behaviors to compensate for the fear of the loss of love, the lack of approval (negative self-worth), the curtailment of creativity, or the loss of freedom to express their basic impulses in a safe environment.
HOME: THE PRIMARY SCHOOL OF VALUES, OF SPIRIT ATTUNEMENT,
You cannot hear the spirit if your mind is overactive. Self-discipline of the mind is very important, and many people still think that a quiet mind invites the devil in to play. This attitude can be seen in the vehement uprising of parents when school teachers try to help children learn to visualize and use their imaginations in school curriculum like DUSO or Magic Circle's effective education programs. Public school systems with few exceptions are not allowed to attempt the moral, ethical or spiritual training of children, even though it can't be avoided. Not teaching is still teaching. Avoidance of moral and ethical training is exactly what is taught by school boards who model the avoidance of values education. This is not a criticism, but a fact of the state of education in North America. Parents cannot expect moral and religious training to be done by public school systems.
The place for mind-training and spirit-training is in the home and always will be. This idea is supported in the Urantia writings too, in the Government on a Neighboring Planet section. Here, in North America, moral and value education are found in some private and parochial schools. Moral and value education takes place over long, long periods of time, in which children continually test their teachers' and parents' values. Children test our loyalties to them, to our ideas, to our ideals, and to the family. For Urantia families and communities, the home is the school for teaching children spiritual values. Some far-seeing, spiritually conscious parents will sacrifice everything for their children's and grandchildren's spiritual welfare. Jesus did this with his family. Jesus was ultimately interested in the welfare of their souls.
Some educational-psychological research indicates that children grow up in recognized stages of intellectual, emotional, moral, and physical development. (Erikson, Piaget) See Addendum B. At each stage of development certain aspects of life can be taught to children and be understood by them. No amount of parental cajoling or preaching will reach a child whose mind is not biologically developed or ready to comprehend the morality lectures of the mother or father. Abstract concepts can begin to be understood at about nine years old. Many parents continue to mistakenly expect adult understanding and behavior from their young children. Parents must match their teaching style to the age and temperament of each of their children, just as Jesus did. The establishment of parental authority, along with family meetings and family consensus go far in adjusting everyone's understanding of family members and their inherent capacities for material, mental and spiritual growth.
Ways must be found within the home to early discipline children like Jesus did, where discipline was always a creative opportunity to teach a better method of behavior. Dr. Wayne Dyer lists some ways (see Addendum D) in which parents can give their children the gift of creativity, in reality awaken and encourage their inherent creative natures. He reminds us that we are the temporal creators of our children's self-image. And it is our children's spiritual self-image that we as believers of the Urantia Papers should be most concerned with.
EDUCATING CHILDREN TO LOVE SOLITUDE AND A QUIET MIND
"In stillness we will hear God's Voice today without intrusions of our petty thoughts, without our personal desires, and without all judgment of His holy WordToday we will not listen to the world, but wait in silence for the Word of God." (p.220, A Course in Miracles)
Children must be surrounded by environments of rich, religious resources, and at the same time learn how to be still, to quiet themselves and to cultivate a love of solitude, much like young Jesus did. This will enable them to become more attuned to their best friend, God, who lives in their mind, and Jesus' Spirit of Truth who lives in their hearts. Tell children stories of Jesus being alone and talking to God, his Father.
The child's best friend is within. Through becoming their own best friend, children will acquaint themselves with the real Best Friend--the God Presence inside them. We can help our children to find this "inner friend by cultivating the love of solitude." (p.196, Vissel)
Overstimulation of children by media and school, too much pre-school education, and other mind-occupying activities sets up a pattern for the rest of their lives that is very difficult to break. This is the pattern of always needing outside stimulation, and the need for constant socialization. Children who are never given the opportunity nor the environment to be quiet and reflective can have great difficulty tuning into their spirit. Teaching our children to be alone and to quiet their minds is imperative for the development of spiritual perception. Be still and quiet, relax and be at attention were the teachings of Jesus. "Worship is effortless attention, true and ideal soul rest, a form of restful spiritual exertion." (p.1616)
MEDITATING WITH THE KIDS
The commitment a parent makes to seek God's Presence within is indeed a major commitment and is perhaps the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our child.
Jesus from an early age (11) was given to long seasons of profound meditation, which means he must have started meditating and worshiping at a much earlier age. (p.1371) It follows, then, that children, throughout most stages of their development, can be taught methods of spiritual perception. Simple meditation is easily understood, because of the younger child's naturally active imagination. The Vissells write that,
"meditating with children can be a very powerful and wonderful experience. Children of all ages love to use their imaginations and have a great ability to visualize. If meditation is introduced as a wonderful game and adventure, children will respond with joy." (p.180)
Guided meditations are especially enjoyed by children. Here is a sample itinerary that you can embellish: Imagine you meet your shining guardian angel in a lovely meadow, and she takes you on a special journey to a beautiful castle where you both meet the Master. Let the children add to the meditation here. Then ask them what they see and hear Jesus say. Children can also make up their own meditations. The goal of meditation is to be open to the inner voice of God--our Thought Adjusters.
Zen or quiet mind meditations can also be developed in young children. At times leave the noise of the city, take the children to the wilderness, sit in the forest or by a river, and silently meditate and worship with the whole family. Then share the experience, tell each other what was heard; what the spirit voices of nature said, and what the inner voice said to each of you. When you return home, draw and paint the imagery that comes to you. At the lower levels of circle attainment our Thought Adjuster communicates to us in pictures and symbolism. (pp.1207-08, 1223)
THE BATTLE FOR THE MINDS OF OUR CHILDREN
The real warfare on the planet is not the military power plays seen on the TV news, but the power plays seen in commercials and the glorification of violence. Something evil is reaching for the possession and manipulation of the minds of the populace; I do not believe it is only the result of ignorant human marketing practices. On one side of the battle line are the materialistic manipulators of the media and their sponsors, material and spiritual. On the other side of the battle line are the governing spiritual personalities of Urantia, the angelic government, council of Urantia, and other spiritual personalities who offer a different kind of power-play-of-life to those souls who learn to tune into their inner spiritual broadcasts. If we are tuned in to our inner channels of spiritual communication, then, we will be better able to help children of this generation to look, listen, speak and act in unison with our spiritual community on Urantia. They will not be so susceptible to the hypnotic effect of slick media.
In a spiritual home environment rich in visual and musical stimuli, the children's community of angels and spiritual guides will become more real and more important. These children will more likely gravitate toward other earthly communities of like-minded spiritual families for the rest of their lives.
Give names to all your family's angels, draw eight-foot pictures of them and hang them on each bedroom door. I asked my children what their angels' names were and each of them responded with a double name, Autumn's "Beautiful-Wonder," and Eden's "Tommy-Jack." Use the name of Jesus in every conversation, sing praise, meditate and worship together often, every day if possible. Draw pictures of spiritual importance, surround your children with beauty, walk in raw unpolluted nature, be good to your children, enjoy them in their play.
Play with them inventing spiritual games, praise them and encourage them when they create their own prayer forms, help them develop their personal relationship with God, by making Him a real partner in all your lives. Jesus tried to get his family to create their own prayer forms. Unconditionally accept children's spiritual visions; Eden, my 5-year-old son, said with great conviction, that when Jesus came back to earth after he died, he didn't have a beard. Autumn, 6, wrote the following prayer, and practices her reading with it:
"Thank you, God, for giving us all the things you give us, and all the sheep. And you give us the whole universe. Thank you, God, for Jesus; thank you, God, for God."
Eden's prayer is:
"Thank you, God, for all the animals, all the people in the world, for all the spirits, and for our souls."
He saw his angels doing cartwheels on their wings.
Make them up! It's fun to exercise your divine right to be creative. Take a lesson from other cultures. Create little Hindu-Buddhist-like altars in each of the children's rooms. Let each child create his or her own altar the way they want to create it. Cultivate the joy of alone-time in children so that they can go to their altar and best friend, God, inside them, when they may be troubled and need to. Let your children see your light shining from you after your meditation and worship sessions. Set the example for them.
Experience the better side of this imperfect part of Paradise and God's creation, right here and now, and be creative with Him. Visualization and drama can be used to develop spiritual perception in young children and in teens. An Ontario Urantia community creates an annual Resurrection puppet show, in which all the children make the puppets and play the parts. The scared soldiers are always the hit. Creating spiritual music and song stimulates the spirit and joins family to community. Telling parables and making up parables, creating spiritual billboards at home, illustrating these parables or the fruits of the spirit, showing family examples of some of the fruits, are some artistic methods of focusing the children's attention on spiritual life.
Create new parables together. Let the kids create the ends of sentences when you tell them Jesus stories. Make up Jesus stories by embellishing those in The Urantia Book; e.g., What happened when Jesus was in the garden and milking the goats? Make him real, let them guess, and accept their ideas about Jesus without judgment or correction. Then continue to build the story from their ideas. For example:
Parent: "When Jesus stuck his shovel in the garden he dug up a (Pause)"
Child's response: "Easter egg!"
Parent: "Yes, he dug up an Easter egg, many eggs, and he took them to his mother and Jesus shouted (pause)"
Child: "Look Mom, can we color them?" Etc.
Create new spiritual rituals together, new musical instruments to play while singing with the angels. Thomas, an Idaho Urantia Book reader, father, carpenter, musician, says that music gets his family out of their thinking hemisphere and into their creative-musical hemisphere, which he feels is more loving. Now his family plays music for community events. Do something -- anything -- creative together as a family.
Remember, your Thought Adjuster or Thought Controller is a perfect part of a perfect Creator Father. Remember His injunction to the universes, "Be you perfect, even as I am perfect." (p.21) Surrender to His will, let go and let God, and you may just experience some form of His creative perfection in your lives, in your children's lives and in your relationships with them. At this stage of our spiritual development the perfection we experience lies more in our intent, in our motivation to do His creative will. Do not be discouraged when you fail to realize some apparent imperfection in your parental behavior. Just keep exercising your inner spiritual creativity and keep trying from your soul. Self-perfection is a matter of your mind-will focus.
At five the Thought Adjuster comes; why not throw a party and invite the children's friends to rejoice in this mighty occasion? See the loving and the lovable and the Thought Adjuster in your children and in yourselves; know that when your will and God's will and purpose are at one, then the love you feel for your children and from them is His love. That love now flows freely through your soul to others in family and community, to the Divinity inside them. Love is the creative energy for the building of the living temple of spiritual fellowship. Let the children know that they are in the kingdom of heaven in your home, that they are part of the Supreme Being, the loving relationship of all people.
Listen to the children, they will teach you how to teach them. They will show you how to instantly forgive and make up, so that we all can get on playing at life together. They will reward you for your efforts, because they will teach you how to see with the eye of spiritual faith, remind you to listen with the ear of the spirit, and speak the language of the spirit, while you all grow up in spirit perception. 4-year-old Eden says good night to the Holy Mother Spirit, the Mother of the angels. Then he whispers to me,
"You can't see the angels, because they are like Pete's Dragon. If you're a good guy, then she comes out--if you are not, then she doesn't come out. She is invisible."
Creatively use your inner mind to create an inner world of God's love in you and your children, supported by an outer world of parental-grandparental love.
"Let your children see that there is love for them. Children must see how their parents love them. Especially let the children see how their parents love one another."
A service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship