Articles on Family:
The Family: Birthplace of Cosmic Citizens by Paul Snider
7 Arenas of Family Life by Sara Blackstock
How can we facilitate a child's personal relationship with God?
How can we facilitate a child's personal relationship with God?
Young people are greatly influenced by the pop-culture they experience every time they turn on the TV, pick up a magazine, listen to music, or hang out with their friends. This "non-culture" is enticing, persuasive, and even invasive because it grabs them at their emotional essence. If we as adults can possess the clarity, courage and understanding to provide children (from an early age) with real spiritual culture in the form of meanings and values, then the pop-culture may entice them, but it need not invade them. They will have the philosophic foundation to resist becoming tangled up in its web of materialistic and superficial intrigue.
Adult Responsibilities And Challenges
Our first responsibility and greatest challenge is to be loyal to the truth we teach our children, to live it moment by moment. Next we must provide an environment in which our children may discover, explore and understand that truth.
Consider the following:
"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." ~ The Urantia Book, 100:1.4The most useful part of adult guidance in the lives of children is found in the adult's attitude toward life. Children more naturally live in the moment; they easily succumb to life and truly live it. Adults need to stimulate them in this bright moment of wonder, anything less is a disservice to their growth. Parents are the ultimate teachers to their children and must be acutely aware of this moment of teach-ability as they go about their daily routines of living.
Everyday life is rich with metaphors, which can act to kindle the divine spark in children. For example, the way life is born anew in springtime, the age rings on a tree, the transformation of a caterpillar into butterfly, how water finds its way back to the ocean, all contain valuable spiritual metaphors. To openly express gratitude to God for the beauty of nature, to smile and greet an old person, to notice the unique patterns of the living world, these also represent excellent opportunities to help children to connect with the meaning and value of existence.
One parent used a simple metaphoric exercise to teach his three children a valuable spiritual lesson. He sat them all down at the family dining table and gave each a tube of toothpaste, a paper plate and a Popsicle stick. He asked them to squeeze the toothpaste onto the paper plate, and promised a ten-dollar bill to the first on who could get the toothpaste back into the tube using the stick. The children struggled for some time but to no avail, and finally gave up exasperated. He then explained to them that unkind words and words of anger are like the toothpaste, easy to get out, and impossible to take back.
The more connections we help them make between the material and spiritual world, the easier it will be for them to identify and connect with these realities. We can literally help them to weave the fabric of relationship, not only with family, friends, neighbors, and community but also with nature and ultimately with God. We can provide learning environments which act to enhance and stimulate their observational abilities so that, they may be alone, but not lonely; apart from, but not disconnected; struggling, but not hopeless. We can validate the truth that God desires to express through them, and help them to celebrate their own unique personality. We can teach them how to think, not merely what to think.
Like Jesus, we must learn to be true servant leaders, and show the way. First by the example of loyalty to divine meanings and values in our own lives, and next by giving them a stockpile of metaphor, or "kindling" to keep their spiritual fire a blaze. We have but to whet the natural appetites that the creator himself put in them that they might be lured by the "tonic of adventure and the stimulus of curiosity" into the "impulse of eternity."
"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 discovery." ~ The Urantia Book, 14:5.10
We do not have to rely on chance with our children's spiritual lives. In his profound and fascinating book, The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents, Deepak Chopra has this to say :
"The deepest desire in a parent's heart is to see one's child achieve success in life, yet how many of us realize that the most direct way to success is through spirit?" ~ The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents, Page 19Surely, many parents know this, but are only just beginning to learn how to help their children know it. Again, according to Chopra, true success…
"depends on who you are, not what you do. Being or essence or spirit— call it by any name you want - lies at the source of all achievement in life." ~ The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents, Page 13It can prove helpful to identify spiritual concepts or goals that you want for your children then look for the life materials and metaphors that will help you to pass them on.
Following are and example of two spiritual concepts and one spiritual goal that a parent might wish to teach:
FRAMING THE ISSUES
As we endeavor to provide spiritual education for our children, we should consider some preliminary questions.
Things To Consider:
Count The Cost:
Considering the cost of developing a culture that we can pass on to our children's children is quite relevant. A child's religious education can cost little or nothing, for a parent can help a kid find wonder and meaning everywhere. However, a full spectrum program involving a group of children will almost certainly involve supplies, space, and stimulating activities, all of which require adequate funding. Even more important to success is the commitment of enthusiastic adults who are willing to expend time and energy to make it all happen. Religious movements must support and encourage adult role models to help children find God, by developing creative and meaningful ways to keep the fire of their spirit burning bright.
Some examples of what you can do to add spiritual meaning to a child's life:
Some things to avoid:
The most important thing that happens within a group of people, whether it involves children or adults, is relationships. Any "lessons" or "teachings" are taught best by their practical application to this one cosmic reality, without which, they have no value.
"Everything non spiritual in human experience, excepting personality, is a means to an end. Every true relationship of mortal man with other persons - human or divine - is an end in itself. And such fellowship with the personality of Deity is the eternal goal of universe ascension." ~ The Urantia Book, 112:2.8More food for thought to broaden the perspective on child-culture:
Children learn by doing, they need something to feel, see, smell, taste, touch or move in order to experience reality. To give your child a religious foundation, it never hurts to study how other religions have helped children learn and experience their spirituality. It may be inspiring for them to get up and dance, chant, light incense, play drums, or gong bells. Adults often find that they too benefit greatly from experiencing more color, sound, smell, touch, taste and emotions as they attempt to make spiritual growth more appealing for their children. As children witness our love of truth, they will be more likely to seek it themselves, not only in the traditional sources , but also along all religious paths.
Sometimes the simplest things are the most powerful and can be all that is necessary to kindle a spiritual fire in a young person's life. Think creatively, use your imagination, have fun, and remember; whenever we set out to fuel the spiritual fire of a child the Spirit of Truth will ever speak, saying "This is the way."
One of the major avenues available to me to promote truth is through the day care center where I work. God has blessed me with the care of 250 children and their families,as well as the staff at the center. Because it is a public daycare, I have to be very careful about how I express "religion" although it's common knowledge to all who know me that I love God. I often express to children in groups and privately the simple concept that God lives in each of us as a light to show the way.
Twice a week I read stories to a group of 30 or more children, ages 5 to 11. The day care has a huge collection of excellent children's stories and we read them every afternoon at snack time. Over the years I have learned that story telling has more teaching impact on children than reading, so I decided to try it. As I sat down with a good story in my lap to read, it spontaneously occurred to me to recount one of my favorite stories from The Urantia Book, the story of the first human family. I knew it well, having read it many times. At first I stumbled, but soon I was effortlessly telling the story of the first humans,even embellishing my familiar understanding of the story. What amazed me was the rapt attention of every child listening, regardless of age. They wanted to know if the story was true, and how long ago it happened. They asked questions like, "Were they born just like us?" "When did they become humans?" and "What made them different?"
The language of religious teachings has to be toned down for most children in order to hold their attention. If you have kids in the 5 to 11 age group, pick a meaningful story that you like and know well, and then tell it on family meeting night, or before going to bed, or while driving in the car. Jesus held the attention of children and adults alike by telling stories and parables; it is clearly a powerful teaching technique. Children, especially before adolescence, easily forgive any bumbled attempts at trying something new. A young adult once told me that the most powerful way in which her mother taught her about God was by telling stories while drawing out illustrations on a huge pad of paper. The poignancy and reality of emotion and concept which was portrayed in this way held this young person's mind and emotions throughout childhood. She believes that it played an essential part in her spiritual education.
Concept - Everyone Is A Member Of God's Family
Concept - The Part And The Whole
Concept - God Lives Within Me
How To Enhance The Meaning
Creating a sacred space in the home
An altar can provide a focus for the experience of feeling the sacred in everyday life. It provides a dedicated space where individual family members or even the family group can go and be with God, a place to feel the reality of God's love. It can and often does become an integral part of the home life. Not that a person can't be with God where ever they happen to be, to the contrary, a feeling of the sacredness in all things is desirable. An altar is merely one way to help facilitate feelings of sacredness, reverence, and awe, by reflecting in some way common values held most dear. Establishing a sacred space in the home helps an individual feel the values of truth, beauty,goodness and love.
An altar can be a space set aside for worship and prayer, for honoring the patterns of divinity found in and around us, or for bringing God closer to us through the use of meaningful symbols. It can be all of the above and more. Children especially respond to beauty and deeply appreciate items found in nature.
The entire family can be involved in creating the altar. It is often better to allow the altar to evolve, as items are added and subtracted on a daily, weekly or special occasion basis.
How to Begin
Find or create a space in your home or yard that the family agrees upon. It can be out of the way, if the family desires a quiet area, or in a main living area, if the family desires a daily reminder of the sacred. If younger children are involved, the parents may want to create the altar initially, but as children get older they will greatly enjoy adding their own ideas and symbols to it.
Creating a Space
The space should include a platform upon which family members can arrange their meaningful items. Beauty is an essential part in the creation of a sacred space. We naturally seek and love beauty because it stimulates our minds to attain higher spiritual levels of thought. Using items from nature such as a small tree, plant, rock or shell can help create a beautiful effect. Fabric stores carry many exquisite materials, which can be used to adorn the altar and accentuate the items placed there. A fluid altar is always nice because the family can decide to change it from time to time. This allows each member of the family an opportunity at implementing their ideas.
Elements Which Can Be Added to the Altar
Family members can have their own quiet moments at the altar, or a family can gather around the altar at special times, like before or after a family meeting. The altar can provide a place for prayers, quiet meditation, songs, and readings of beautiful or meaningful material, as well powerful moments of grief or joy.
History of the Altar
The Urantia Book presents some interesting historical facts about altars. It could be a valuable for family members to discuss the evolution of the altar.
Here are just a few tidbits from The Urantia Book on altars:
Altar fires and lighted candles were considered the best means of resisting ghosts and evil spirits ~ The Urantia Book, 83:4.6
The Urantia Book says that Jesus wrote out The Lord's Prayer on a "...piece of smooth cedar board about eighteen inches square, with a piece of charcoal...." and it could be assumed that this became a part of his family's altar.)
An altar can be built temporarily on a mountaintop, on the beach, in the desert, or by a lake. A space can be created in a moment to honor the sacred moments in human experience anywhere, anytime. It is a simple and effective way to create a sense of the sacred in our everyday lives.
Holidays are a wonderful time to create a sense of sacredness for kids. Christmas has an overwhelming aspect for kids because the excitement of presents can easily eclipse the "real" meaning. This can happen with Easter as well, but not so easily. This is not to say that holidays shouldn't be fun. Fun and celebration work well when interspersed with the "sacred".
The story of Easter and the circumstances of Jesus' death and resurrection is without a doubt one the most poignant and emotionally moving stories in history. Since emotions are the gateway to the mind, one can use this story to stir the emotions of children. The story is rich with lessons of courage, betrayal, injustice, loyalty, faith, love, forgiveness, eternal life, and submission to God's will. The fact that it happens in springtime adds all the more meaning, because spring is laden with metaphors about renewal, which appeal to the deepest part of our spiritual nature.
Drawing from personal experience, I remember when my own son was between the ages of about 5 and 10. He was very interested in weapons - swords in particular. I would read and embellish the Easter story for him every year, clarifying it when the words or concepts were too complicated. Even as a child of 5 my son was enthralled and filled with emotion as Jesus standing before Judas, who had just kissed him, asked the captain of the Roman guards, "Whom do you seek?" and when the Roman guard answered, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus replied: "I have told you that I am he. If, therefore, you seek me, let these others go their way. I am ready to go with you."
He marveled to hear how Peter drew his sword and led the other apostles forward to smite the Romans. But before he could, Jesus raised a forbidding hand and spoke sternly, saying: "Peter, put up your sword. They who take the sword shall perish by the sword. Do you not understand that it is the Father's will that I drink this cup? And do you not further know that I could even now command more than twelve legions of angels and their associates, who would deliver me from the hands of these few men?"
Stories such as this can easily lead to a discussion about how many angels it takes to make up twelve legions. Children in general seem to love big numbers. It is astounding to ponder how many angels were available to Jesus at that very moment - an angelic army made up of 71,663,616 individual angels. It can be a provocative and interesting discussion to explore why Jesus chose not to call on even just a few of these angels to save him.
Often, when adults read familiar religious stories to children, their own passion is aroused in such a way that it greatly enhances everyone's enjoyment of the tale. An annual reading of these stories is one easy way to create a meaningful holiday tradition between you and your child.
The sacred traditions of groups, such as churches, often employ powerful music and ceremonial services,especially at Easter time, but if your family doesn't go to church, perhaps there is something you can do at home or with a group of likeminded friends.
The family that I grew up in kept the common Easter traditions. In addition to buying new Easter clothes to show off in Sunday school, we colored and hunted for Easter eggs, found our baskets filled with candy on Easter morning, went to public Easter egg hunts, and ate way too much food with family and friends. Being the oldest of 6 kids and having a difficult home life made these traditions a restful and fun celebration for us all.
In the last several years, members of my faith family (my religious community) have attempted to vary these traditions with the hope of adding more meaning. The day before Easter, three of our "men folk" walk up a big hill, which overlooks the Carquinez Straits. (This has become a kind of pilgrimage for these men.) Each man carries a backpack containing Easter rocks (approximately one to two inches in diameter) that are all painted in the same beautiful color, a color that differs from year to year. Some of the rocks have a meaningful statement painted on them in gold. We commonly use statements like; "You are a child of God" or "The Universe is a friendly place" or "God is the eternal flame within you" or "Jesus came to show us the way",etc. The men scatter the painted rocks over a square block area covered with dill, which makes them difficult to find.
Early the next morning about 25 of us gather with our children, blankets, food, sacred books, and musical instruments to trudge up the long hill together. It is a challenging walk and upon reaching the summit, we lay out our blankets and settle in with a breathtaking view of the Straits. We then read the story of Jesus' resurrection from both The Urantia Book and the Bible, sing songs, play instruments and have a remembrance (communion) of Jesus with bread and juice. Young and old alike have a wonderful time.
Then begins the Easter Rock hunt, when the children and teens search for the beautifully colored rocks. The older children invariably help the younger ones find the colored treasures. They collect the rocks in bags,which can get quite heavy, and when most have been found, we all come back to the blankets to count them. The "prize rocks" are the ones with sayings on them, and who ever find these rocks gets to read them aloud to the group. Prizes are awarded for the fewest found and the most found, the biggest rock and the littlest. And because we almost never find all the rocks in a given year, special recognition goes to those who find rocks that were hidden in previous years.
After we go back down the hill we celebrate with a potluck brunch together. We all look forward to this meaningful ritual in my community because it is spiritual, fluid, fun, and because it fulfills some basic human needs for body, mind, and spirit.
Each family or community develops its own meaningful holiday traditions. We would love to hear what yours are. If you don't have a family or group to celebrate with, take comfort in the knowledge that the Spirit of Jesus, as well your guardian angels are there to celebrate with your soul, and help you to be inspired and uplifted.
Someone asked me once what my wife Diana and I did to encourage our daughter's spiritual development:
We took long walks in the beautiful mountains where we live while Diana was pregnant. We gave our baby a spiritually symbolic name. We had soft music playing and soft lighting in the room where she was born. She was immediately placed at her mother's breast following her birth. I bathed her an hour or two after she was born while Diana rested.
We read children's books with a spiritual theme from many different religions, and recited prayers from many traditions from the time she was tiny. Most evenings, barring rain, I would take her out at sunset and we would say "Good-Bye Sun, See You Tomorrow!" We read the classic fairytales. For years, we told her "Sweet Dreams" which was our way of saying "Bedtime Stories." These were spontaneous guided imageries (sometimes I could feel our spirits communicating), always beautiful and positive, and often contained spiritual symbolism.
As she grew we nearly always said or sung various graces at dinner (at least).We encouraged her to pray to her Heavenly Father in her own words and modeled this occasionally. We spoke openly with her about Guardian Angels We played spiritual music and story tapes in the car (along with just fun stuff).We sang chants and danced Sufi dances. She went to a week long Sufi Camp with us when she was about two. Star and I often had discussions about God where I would share my faith and belief's and would listen openly to hers. I treasure those conversations and would always let her know so.
She often attended our small religious study groups and activities over the years, and I have shared with her particular and pertinent passages (pure poetry!) throughout the years. We attended our little Catholic church sporadically and she was baptized and made her first communion, but I have also spoken frankly to her on my feelings regarding the atonement doctrine and original sin.
We would often practice and sing with the North San Juan Community Choir for Christmas as a family. I gave her a copy of the URANTIA Book for her 16th birthday as she had been asking about it. She is not much of a reader (of anything) but will willingly listen when I or someone else reads from the Book. We've always talked to her and listened acceptingly to her.
I guess in the end, the best way to encourage the inner light to come forth from a glowing Star is to fill it with love and just let it shine.
Helping Children Find & Use Their Abilities
Perspective and Interpretation from The Urantia Book on Guiding Children to Find and Use Their Abilities
It would appear that one of our main responsibilities as adults — teachers, parents and friends of children — is to help guide, stimulate, and challenge them to find and actualize their "God-given" abilities. Actually, The Urantia Book teaches that "God-given" is not an accurate term, as God does not arbitrarily give the gift of special ability. So what does the book say are the sources of "special human ability"?
"There are three possible sources of special human ability. At the bottom always there exists the natural or inherent aptitude. Special ability is never an arbitrary gift of the Gods; there is always an ancestral foundation for every outstanding talent." (The Urantia Book, 44:8.2) The Urantia Book makes a distinction between 'ability' and 'skill': From the dictionary ability is: "the power to do something; skill, expertise, talent, capacity or tendency." From The Urantia Book : "Ability is that which you inherit, while skill is what you acquire.....Skill is one of the real sources of the satisfaction of living. Ability implies the gift of foresight, farseeing vision." (The Urantia Book, 160:4.11)
Leadership as an ability is mentioned many times by the authors of The Urantia Book, they seem to be concerned about the quality of human leadership. "Leadership is dependent on natural ability, discretion, will power, and determination." (The Urantia Book, 156:5.7)
I have heard perceptive teachers express concern about the current trend of giving drugs to some of our more active children, the vast majority of which are boys, so that they will be able to sit longer in the classroom. Research has shown that children who seem to have leadership abilities often have a difficult time waiting, sitting, and listening to others. They have a drive to be FIRST in line trying to get ahead of the other children. Some children may have to take drugs to help them attend and control themselves, but adults should make every effort to be sure we are also helping them to use their energy in positive ways instead of suppressing it.
This is just my personal opinion, but I suggest we should continue to explore the research before we give children drugs to quell what might be their natural leadership abilities.
How can we identify the abilities which our children may inherit? Perhaps it will be helpful to look at a method which is being recognized within some of the more advanced educational systems — researcher Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences.
Gardner has now identified nine intelligences, i.e. abilities, and styles of learning. Many of us have most of them, but there are usually one or two that are dominant. And some children show outstanding "special ability" in certain of these. A study of this list of nine intelligences and abilities may help you discover personal strengths and abilities for yourself and your children.
Of course Gardner's work provides just one model, but it's one that is being recognized by some forward looking schools across the United States. If you find your child has a special ability you may want to further this by providing environments that are conducive to discovering more about his or her abilities or specific training. For instance, if you find your child learns best by the kinesthetic intelligence — has an ability to learn by doing — and loves to make people laugh through drama, you may consider providing a special trunk full of props such as hats, wands, swords, wigs, pieces of material, etc., allowing for more creative expression of this ability.
You may find that your child seems to be obsessive about a specific intelligence, such as reading 10 books a week, you may want to provide alternative experiences which will help create balance and develop other intelligences such as walks in nature, art, music, or sports.
Following is Howard Gardner's list of nine multiple intelligences:
(There are many sites on the web to learn more about Multiple Intelligences as identified by Professor Howard Gardner of Harvard University.)
Keep in mind that adults should not force children to do something for which they have no ability such as playing sports when they are artists. "Ability is the practical measure of life's opportunities. You will never be held responsible for the accomplishment of that which is beyond your abilities." (The Urantia Book, 171:8)
Concerning "special ability" The Urantia Book teaches that celestial help is provided "to the naturally gifted individuals of the mortal races." It teaches that certain spirit helpers conspire to "assist those mortal artists who posses inherent endowments." The guides and teachers often "act as harmonizers of these talents and otherwise to assist and inspire these mortals to seek for ever-perfecting ideals and to attempt their enhanced portrayal for the edification of the realm." (The Urantia Book, 44:8.1) How amazing to ponder that learning more about our children's abilities and our own, and how to bring them from potentials to actuals, not only helps us to develop these gifts, but may actually be furthering the ability of spirit artisans to work effectively with us.
Self Help for Forming a Philosophy of Parenting,
Using The Urantia Book as a Guide
As we are not alone in the universe, neither we are not alone in our parenting. God has provided parents with every possible guide, but sometimes we feel alone, even if we are parenting with our spouse, and we have the support of extended and chose family and community.
There are times in the every day nitty gritty of work, school, eating, diapers, and the traumas and crisis of parenthood when we do not FEEL that we are being very spiritual in our parenting, nor do we even FEEL the Spirit is with us. We shout, get impatient, blame, shake the finger, bribe and allow TV just to keep them out of the way and quiet. Where is the spirit in this?
What is spiritual parenting and how is it different from just "parenting"?
The difference is one of perspective and goals, values and meanings. The "techniques" of discipline that parents use could well be the same as they deal with their kids bursting through the limits, wanting their own pleasures, whining when things don't go their way, fighting with their siblings, etc. As is obvious to most parents children are capable of learning manifold techniques of their own, albeit it unconsciously, to manipulate their world to satisfy their momentary pleasures.
Spiritual Parenting indicates several crucial assumptions of parenting:
Kahlil Gibran states these two premises of Spiritual Parenting poetically in The Prophet :
The most empowering TRUTH of The Urantia Book is the FACT that we mortals have been created by our spiritual parent who loves us with an infinite love, and whom we can love in return. Because we can experience this quality of relationship in our individual personal private life, we can know the reality of the experience of the highest LOVE relationship in the universe. This personal experience gives us a foundational pattern with which to parent our children.
Another aspect of The Urantia Book is that it provides us with answers to questions which have been asked for eons and eons. Answers that we could have had, should have had from at least the days of Adam and Eve, if not earlier. We were supposed to have two planetary headquarters established on our planet. It would be considered "normal" to tell our children there IS a God, a loving God; it IS a friendly universe; they can decide to live forever; God lives in them and in everyone else, making all brothers and sisters and the most profound truth of all: God is our loving spiritual parent - each of our children has a perfect loving spiritual parent. These simple basic truths parents are struggling with daily as their children ask universal questions about the macro and micro universes - "Who made the stars?" "Where did grandpa go when he died?" "Why does God allow such bad things to happen to my friend?" As we help our children explore the answers to these questions we are helping them form a philosophy of living. We no longer have to spend precious time and energy figuring our IF we should tell our children there is a God, IF we should give them hope of eternal life, IF we should lead them to believe it is a friendly universe, FOR WE KNOW THESE ARE TRUTHS. We need to figure out in our own styles and ways how best to guide and ground our children in these truths, to encourage them to discover others truths and to release their personality potential, expanding the possibilities of their life through the adventures of self discovery and joys of service.
On this site we will uncover and share ways of putting into practice principals of spiritual parenting, discovering how we can work with the Spirit in our parenting practices. We will use not only The Urantia Book, which may be a foundational book for some, but also weave the tapestry with some of the more clearly written and respected literature of the day from professionals in the realms of sociology, psychology, neurosciences, recreation, art, education and child development.
There are several foundational quotes from The Urantia Book upon which we can build A Philosophy of Parenting:
Even deeply spiritual people may not think that the realm of philosophy applies to the training and education of children. Granted, children do pick up a philosophy of living unconsciously from their parents. However, deliberately bringing philosophy into the light of a child's consciousness, by grasping any opportunity to help them creatively evolve their own personal philosophy of living, has tremendous value.
I would like to share an experience I had one evening recently with 3 children who are being brought up in a home of conscious spirituality and values, having been "primed" to be receptive to enlightened exploration.
It all began as a very mundane, material level of card playing. We four were playing a vigorous game of quadruple solitaire — just like solitary solitaire, but with four playing instead of one. I have found that many children love the energy and competitiveness of this game.
As we were playing it became obvious that some strategies worked and some didn't. We began to comment on these occasionally saying things like, "Stop whining" or "Don't just sit there, do something."
Halfway through the game we decided we would find parallels to the card game and the "game of life" when we were done playing. I also suggested that when we finished the game we could recall which game strategies worked and which didn't and write these discoveries down.
The children ranged from 7 to 14 years of age, and they all enjoyed this "philosophizing" as I called it. It's nothing more than developing a way of thinking about living, an art of living, that can make life better for people just like the solitaire game can be made better by game strategies.
From this exercise, the children and I came up with a list of "Parallels to Life." The oldest girl said she thought it would make a good essay for one of her English classes. I definitely agreed. When the children's parents got home we read the list to them and they clapped with delight. Here is what we came up with:
Parallels between playing a good game of solitaire and playing a good game of life
We could have gone on but we got enough out of this.
Do let us know how it goes if you try "philosophizing" with your kids while playing games or doing life activities. It can be quite fun and helpful to "flesh out" these kinds of activities with philosophical meaning.
Almost everything of lasting value in civilization has its roots in the family. The family was the first successful peace group, the man and woman learning how to adjust their antagonisms while at the same time teaching the pursuits of peace to their children. ~ The Urantia Book, (68:2.8)
The size of the family has always been influenced by the standards of living. The higher the standard the smaller the family, up to the point of established status or gradual extinction. ~ The Urantia Book, (68:6.6)
Mating is purely an act of self-perpetuation associated with varying degrees of self-gratification; marriage, home building, is largely a matter of self-maintenance, and it implies the evolution of society. Society itself is the aggregated structure of family units. Individuals are very temporary as planetary factors—only families are continuing agencies in social evolution. The family is the channel through which the river of culture and knowledge flows from one generation to another. ~ The Urantia Book, (84:0.2)
Growing Children and Family Life
It is enough of a reach of the material mind of the children of time to conceive of the Father in eternity. We know that any child can best relate himself to reality by first mastering the relationships of the child-parent situation and then by enlarging this concept to embrace the family as a whole. Subsequently the growing mind of the child will be able to adjust to the concept of family relations, to relationships of the community, the race, and the world, and then to those of the universe, the superuniverse, even the universe of universes. ~ The Urantia Book, (8:1.11)
While religious, social, and educational institutions are all essential to the survival of cultural civilization, the family is the master civilizer. A child learns most of the essentials of life from his family and the neighbors. ~ The Urantia Book, (82:0.2)
Young are usually born singly, multiple births being the exception, and the family life is fairly uniform on all types of planets. Sex equality prevails on all advanced worlds; male and female are equal in mind endowment and spiritual status. We do not regard a planet as having emerged from barbarism so long as one sex seeks to tyrannize over the other. ~ The Urantia Book, (49:4.4)
Family Membership Sometimes Necessitates Hardship
If an affectionate father of a large family chooses to show mercy to one of his children guilty of grievous wrongdoing, it may well be that the extension of mercy to this misbehaving child will work a temporary hardship upon all the other and well-behaved children. Such eventualities are inevitable; such a risk is inseparable from the reality situation of having a loving parent and of being a member of a family group. Each member of a family profits by the righteous conduct of every other member; likewise must each member suffer the immediate time-consequences of the misconduct of every other member. Families, groups, nations, races, worlds, systems, constellations, and universes are relationships of association which possess individuality; and therefore does every member of any such group, large or small, reap the benefits and suffer the consequences of the rightdoing and the wrongdoing of all other members of the group concerned. ~ The Urantia Book, (54:6.3)
We are all a part of the family of God, and we must therefore sometimes share in the family discipline. ~ The Urantia Book, (3:2.9)
Mother-Family and Father-Family
The mother-family was the only possible transition from the stage of group marriage in the horde to the later and improved home life of the polygamous and monogamous father-families. The mother-family was natural and biologic; the father-family is social, economic, and political. The persistence of the mother-family among the North American red men is one of the chief reasons why the otherwise progressive Iroquois never became a real state.
The stupendous change from the mother-family to the father-family is one of the most radical and complete right-about-face adjustments ever executed by the human race. This change led at once to greater social expression and increased family adventure. ~ The Urantia Book, (84:2.2)(Note: The following three quotes are from Paper 72, Government on a Neighboring Planet and concern aspects of family life on a near by inhabited world.)
The Family in Chinese Culture
The great strength in a veneration of ancestry is the value that such an attitude places upon the family. The amazing stability and persistence of Chinese culture is a consequence of the paramount position accorded the family, for civilization is directly dependent on the effective functioning of the family; and in Chinese culture the family attained a social importance, even a religious significance, approached by few other peoples. ~ The Urantia Book, (79:8.9)
The mechanical and religious developments of the white races have been of a high order, but they have never excelled the Chinese in family loyalty, group ethics, or personal morality. ~ The Urantia Book, (79:8.16)
The Function of Marriage in Family Life
The function of marriage in evolution is the insurance of race survival, not merely the realization of personal happiness; self-maintenance and self-perpetuation are the real objects of the home. Self-gratification is incidental and not essential except as an incentive insuring sex association. Nature demands survival, but the arts of civilization continue to increase the pleasures of marriage and the satisfactions of family life. ~ The Urantia Book, (68:2.9)
Marriage has been many times in jeopardy, and the marriage mores have drawn heavily on both property and religion for support; but the real influence which forever safeguards marriage and the resultant family is the simple and innate biologic fact that men and women positively will not live without each other, be they the most primitive savages or the most cultured mortals.
The family, which grows out of marriage, is itself a stabilizer of the marriage institution together with the property mores. Other potent factors in marriage stability are pride, vanity, chivalry, duty, and religious convictions. But while marriages may be approved or disapproved on high, they are hardly made in heaven. The human family is a distinctly human institution, an evolutionary development. Marriage is an institution of society, not a department of the church. True, religion should mightily influence it but should not undertake exclusively to control and regulate it. ~ The Urantia Book, (83:0.2)
The real test of marriage, all down through the ages, has been that continuous intimacy which is inescapable in all family life. Two pampered and spoiled youths, educated to expect every indulgence and full gratification of vanity and ego, can hardly hope to make a great success of marriage and home building—a life-long partnership of self-effacement, compromise, devotion, and unselfish dedication to child culture. ~ The Urantia Book, (83:7.6)
Marriage always has been and still is man's supreme dream of temporal ideality. Though this beautiful dream is seldom realized in its entirety, it endures as a glorious ideal, ever luring progressing mankind on to greater strivings for human happiness. But young men and women should be taught something of the realities of marriage before they are plunged into the exacting demands of the interassociations of family life; youthful idealization should be tempered with some degree of premarital disillusionment.
The youthful idealization of marriage should not, however, be discouraged; such dreams are the visualization of the future goal of family life. This attitude is both stimulating and helpful providing it does not produce an insensitivity to the realization of the practical and commonplace requirements of marriage and subsequent family life.
The ideals of marriage have made great progress in recent times; among some peoples woman enjoys practically equal rights with her consort. In concept, at least, the family is becoming a loyal partnership for rearing offspring, accompanied by sexual fidelity. But even this newer version of marriage need not presume to swing so far to the extreme as to confer mutual monopoly of all personality and individuality. Marriage is not just an individualistic ideal; it is the evolving social partnership of a man and a woman, existing and functioning under the current mores, restricted by the taboos, and enforced by the laws and regulations of society. ~ The Urantia Book, (83:8.6)
Marriage is the mother of all human institutions, for it leads directly to home founding and home maintenance, which is the structural basis of society. The family is vitally linked to the mechanism of self-maintenance; it is the sole hope of race perpetuation under the mores of civilization, while at the same time it most effectively provides certain highly satisfactory forms of self-gratification. The family is man's greatest purely human achievement, combining as it does the evolution of the biologic relations of male and female with the social relations of husband and wife.
Sex mating is instinctive, children are the natural result, and the family thus automatically comes into existence. As are the families of the race or nation, so is its society. If the families are good, the society is likewise good. The great cultural stability of the Jewish and of the Chinese peoples lies in the strength of their family groups.
Woman's instinct to love and care for children conspired to make her the interested party in promoting marriage and primitive family life. Man was only forced into home building by the pressure of the later mores and social conventions; he was slow to take an interest in the establishment of marriage and home because the sex act imposes no biologic consequences upon him. ~ The Urantia Book, (84:6.8)
Marriage, with children and consequent family life, is stimulative of the highest potentials in human nature and simultaneously provides the ideal avenue for the expression of these quickened attributes of mortal personality. The family provides for the biologic perpetuation of the human species. The home is the natural social arena wherein the ethics of blood brotherhood may be grasped by the growing children. The family is the fundamental unit of fraternity in which parents and children learn those lessons of patience, altruism, tolerance, and forbearance which are so essential to the realization of brotherhood among all men.
Human society would be greatly improved if the civilized races would more generally return to the family-council practices of the Andites. They did not maintain the patriarchal or autocratic form of family government. They were very brotherly and associative, freely and frankly discussing every proposal and regulation of a family nature.
In an ideal family filial and parental affection are both augmented by fraternal devotion.
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.
The great threat against family life is the menacing rising tide of self-gratification, the modern pleasure mania. The prime incentive to marriage used to be economic; sex attraction was secondary. Marriage, founded on self-maintenance, led to self-perpetuation and concomitantly provided one of the most desirable forms of self-gratification. It is the only institution of human society which embraces all three of the great incentives for living.
Originally, property was the basic institution of self-maintenance, while marriage functioned as the unique institution of self-perpetuation. Although food satisfaction, play, and humor, along with periodic sex indulgence, were means of self-gratification, it remains a fact that the evolving mores have failed to build any distinct institution of self-gratification. And it is due to this failure to evolve specialized techniques of pleasurable enjoyment that all human institutions are so completely shot through with this pleasure pursuit. Property accumulation is becoming an instrument for augmenting all forms of self-gratification, while marriage is often viewed only as a means of pleasure. And this overindulgence, this widely spread pleasure mania, now constitutes the greatest threat that has ever been leveled at the social evolutionary institution of family life, the home. ~ The Urantia Book, (84:7.28)
Religion Unifies Family Life
Social leadership is transformed by spiritual insight; religion prevents all collective movements from losing sight of their true objectives. Together with children, religion is the great unifier of family life, provided it is a living and growing faith. Family life cannot be had without children; it can be lived without religion, but such a handicap enormously multiplies the difficulties of this intimate human association. During the early decades of the twentieth century, family life, next to personal religious experience, suffers most from the decadence consequent upon the transition from old religious loyalties to the emerging new meanings and values. ~ The Urantia Book, (99:4.2)
The Family was at the Heart of Jesus' Teaching
The family occupied the very center of Jesus' philosophy of life—here and hereafter. He based his teachings about God on the family, while he sought to correct the Jewish tendency to over-honor ancestors. He exalted family life as the highest human duty but made it plain that family relationships must not interfere with religious obligations. He called attention to the fact that the family is a temporal institution; that it does not survive death. Jesus did not hesitate to give up his family when the family ran counter to the Father's will. He taught the new and larger brotherhood of man - the sons of God. In Jesus' time divorce practices were lax in Palestine and throughout the Roman Empire. He repeatedly refused to lay down laws regarding marriage and divorce, but many of Jesus' early followers had strong opinions on divorce and did not hesitate to attribute them to him. All of the New Testament writers held to these more stringent and advanced ideas about divorce except John Mark. ~ The Urantia Book, (140:8.14)
Jesus stated that a true family is founded on the following seven facts:
Jesus On Early Home Life
In the course of this day's visiting with John Mark, Jesus spent considerable time comparing their early childhood and later boyhood experiences. Although John's parents possessed more of this world's goods than had Jesus' parents, there was much experience in their boyhood which was very similar. Jesus said many things which helped John better to understand his parents and other members of his family. When the lad asked the Master how he could know that he would turn out to be a "mighty messenger of the kingdom," Jesus said:
"I know you will prove loyal to the gospel of the kingdom because I can depend upon your present faith and love when these qualities are grounded upon such an early training as has been your portion at home. You are the product of a home where the parents bear each other a sincere affection, and therefore you have not been overloved so as injuriously to exalt your concept of self-importance. Neither has your personality suffered distortion in consequence of your parents' loveless maneuvering for your confidence and loyalty, the one against the other. You have enjoyed that parental love which insures laudable self-confidence and which fosters normal feelings of security. But you have also been fortunate in that your parents possessed wisdom as well as love; and it was wisdom which led them to withhold most forms of indulgence and many luxuries which wealth can buy while they sent you to the synagogue school along with your neighborhood playfellows, and they also encouraged you to learn how to live in this world by permitting you to have original experience. You came over to the Jordan, where we preached and John's disciples baptized, with your young friend Amos. Both of you desired to go with us. When you returned to Jerusalem, your parents consented; Amos's parents refused; they loved their son so much that they denied him the blessed experience which you have had, even such as you this day enjoy. By running away from home, Amos could have joined us, but in so doing he would have wounded love and sacrificed loyalty. Even if such a course had been wise, it would have been a terrible price to pay for experience, independence, and liberty. Wise parents, such as yours, see to it that their children do not have to wound love or stifle loyalty in order to develop independence and enjoy invigorating liberty when they have grown up to your age.
"Love, John, is the supreme reality of the universe when bestowed by all-wise beings, but it is a dangerous and oftentimes semiselfish trait as it is manifested in the experience of mortal parents. When you get married and have children of your own to rear, make sure that your love is admonished by wisdom and guided by intelligence.
"Your young friend Amos believes this gospel of the kingdom just as much as you, but I cannot fully depend upon him; I am not certain about what he will do in the years to come. His early home life was not such as would produce a wholly dependable person. Amos is too much like one of the apostles who failed to enjoy a normal, loving, and wise home training. Your whole afterlife will be more happy and dependable because you spent your first eight years in a normal and well-regulated home. You possess a strong and well-knit character because you grew up in a home where love prevailed and wisdom reigned. Such a childhood training produces a type of loyalty which assures me that you will go through with the course you have begun."
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.
It is our sincere belief that the gospel of Jesus' teaching, founded as it is on the father-child relationship, can hardly enjoy a world-wide acceptance until such a time as the home life of the modern civilized peoples embraces more of love and more of wisdom. Notwithstanding that parents of the twentieth century possess great knowledge and increased truth for improving the home and ennobling the home life, it remains a fact that very few modern homes are such good places in which to nurture boys and girls as Jesus' home in Galilee and John Mark's home in Judea, albeit the acceptance of Jesus' gospel will result in the immediate improvement of home life. The love life of a wise home and the loyal devotion of true religion exert a profound reciprocal influence upon each other. Such a home life enhances religion, and genuine religion always glorifies the home.
It is true that many of the objectionable stunting influences and other cramping features of these olden Jewish homes have been virtually eliminated from many of the better-regulated modern homes. There is, indeed, more spontaneous freedom and far more personal liberty, but this liberty is not restrained by love, motivated by loyalty, nor directed by the intelligent discipline of wisdom. As long as we teach the child to pray, "Our Father who is in heaven," a tremendous responsibility rests upon all earthly fathers so to live and order their homes that the word father becomes worthily enshrined in the minds and hearts of all growing children. ~ The Urantia Book, (177:2.1)
Always looking for the Spirit in the simple things of life with kids and families,