Science shows spirituality in children leads to better emotional health.
Dr. Lisa Miller, a clinical psychologist and author of “The Spiritual Child,” says a lack of support for healthy spiritual development has contributed to alarming rates of childhood and adolescent emotional suffering. In her interview on CBC Radio’s Tapestry program (Dec 10, 2015) she explained studies show that children with a sense of their own spirituality have lower risk of substance abuse and other risky behaviours, and lower rates of depression. Alternatively, Miller says a strong sense of personal spirituality is correlated with emotional wellness and academic success in children. Miller defines spirituality as a personal relationship with a loving, guiding universe.
The Young People’s Spiritual Exploration Program at the Comox Valley Unitarian Fellowship is incorporating Miller’s research as it expands its programming to meet parent’s desires to support the spiritual development of their children. Workshops on “The Spiritual Child”, a “Spirit of Adventure” program and the ‘Our Whole Lives’ sexuality education course are all new for 2016.
The Unitarian Fellowship encourages exploration of concepts and experiences with diversity and tolerance in a contemporary world. Amanda Ridgway, director of Young People’s Programs, says that this approach is particularly satisfying for the ‘spiritual but not religious crowd.’
“Families here are incredibly diverse in background and beliefs and with so many people now embracing Eastern traditions, turning to or reclaiming ecological or earth-based worldviews, or simply believing in the goodness of the Universe,” said Ridgway. “It’s affirming to have more support from the scientific community as we expand our offerings.”
The Unitarian approach does not focus on a particular practice or religious belief, but rather encourages the exploration of children’s and families own sense of spirituality. Ridgway, who also works as a substance use counsellor with youth and families, adds that spirituality is increasingly embraced in clinical settings as an important aspect of healing work. “Sharing these tools will only serve to strengthen our families and our communities as a whole.”
To learn more and to register for these and other programs, families can visit: www.cvuf.ca/ypse