No not THAT conversation, hopefully by this age that has been done and dusted. No, I’m talking about that other S word, Spirituality.
Many in the Grandparent bracket, have never contemplated that a conversation about faith is really a conversation about spirituality.
By being so fixated on Church attendance or faith sharing we often by pass the idea that what we are asking about is the spiritual well being of our families. And as it has always been implicit in our conversations or needs for faith formation, we haven’t got our thinking around this very first element, spirituality. In fact, many don’t even know what it means or why it is important.
Spirituality is so important that, “The United Nations Convention on the Rights http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx of the Child (1989) refers to spiritual rights in four of its articles, with a further four also outlining specific religious rights.”
So, what is Spirituality? Nye’s little book Children’s Spiritualityexplores and clearly explains how complex a definition it can be. She sets out the number of disciplines; educators, theologians, psychologists and they’re different way of looking at what1spirituality is. Nye looks at 3 explanations, the first an over simplified “God’s ways of being with children and children’s way of being with God”, but it is far broader as her next attempt shows, “children’s spirituality is an initially natural capacity for awareness of the sacred quality to life experiences. This experience can be conscious or unconscious, and sometimes fluctuates between both, but in both cases, can affect actions, feeling and thoughts. In childhood, spirituality is especially about being attracted towards “being in relation” responding to a call to more than “just me” –i.e.to others, God, to creation or to a deeper inner sense of Self. This encounter with transcendence can happen in specific experiences or moments, as well as through imaginative or reflective activity.” It is about relationship and the interconnectedness of all things. As Grandparents, the concern is our grandchild’s spiritual development will be stifled and not developed.
Thus, the question we should be asking our unchurched adult children is how are they going to cultivate their child’s spirituality, especially when they have rejected faith themselves?
You also need to listen to their answers as they may have already worked out what is spiritually significant to them and how they will express that with their child.
Or it might give you a missional opportunity to share with your child, and how the Christian faith can benefit them and their child.
The very first point of connection a child has is with its mother, so strong bonding is an important spiritual beginning. Thus, your first duty to the spiritual formation of your grandchild is to help facilitate or provide the necessary support to allow that significant bonding experience to happen.
For something practical you can do, if your church does not have a mother and baby group, help start one, so that they can help nurture the parents in your local area.
You might also like to suggest that your child attends one near to them.
A grandparent’s support group or the creation of good relationships within your congregation can help you gain the support you need in your role as grandparent.
Also, what liturgies take place in your congregation to support the grandparent. One congregation we attended had a liturgy for the new grandparents, that involved handing them a rose and praying over the grandparents. Do others have this type of liturgy?
Nye, Rebecca, Children’s Spirituality: What it is and why it matters, (2014, Church House Publishing, London) p. 15
Nye, Rebecca, Children’s Spirituality: What it is and why it matters, (2014, Church House Publishing, London)