Lisa Miller is a professor of Psychology and Education and director of the Clinical Psychology program at Columbia University, Teachers College. She is also the director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute and the coeditor in chief of the American Association journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice.
Miller assumes that good parents who are interested in the spiritual development of their children are capable of finding the best resources to guide and direct them in this important task of parenting. Her goal in this book is to provide the cutting edge data from the intersection between science and spirit. Beyond parents, the audience for this material is educators, health professionals, clergy, youth leaders, policy makers, and others.
First comes a definition of spirituality as "an inner sense of relationship to a higher power that is loving and guiding. The word we give to this higher power might be God, nature, spirit, the universe, the creator, or other words that represent a divine presence. But the important point is that spirituality encompasses our relationship and dialogue with this higher presence."
Children are inherently spiritual and filled with wonder and curiosity about themselves and the world we live in. Teens experience a surge in the spiritual capacity as they ask important questions and explore relationships. Conscientious spiritual parenting enables youth at these developmental stages to enrich and deepen their experiences.
Miller encourages parents to affirm heart knowing, validate direct transcendence experience, encourage love of nature, and model the daily use of ritual and prayer. She discusses "The Six Spiritual Strengths" include creating a culture of love, making use of their spiritual compass, commitment to family, and tapping spiritual multilingualism to cross familiar borders. Miller is convinced that parents can pass on to their children "a lifelong infrastructure for spiritual living."
After discussing ways to deal with substance abuse, depression, and sex; the author closes with seven strategies that can be used to encourage both children's and teenagers' spiritual growth:
Speak: Use spiritual language daily
Share: Transparency and the voice of spiritual experience
Connect: Meet them where they are
Teach: Build a spiritual practice together
Nurture: Embrace Relationships with Animals and All of Nature
Care and Repair: Tend the Field of Love
Strive: The Inspired Life
The Spiritual Child is highly recommended as a pre-eminently wise, practical and inspiring book for parents eager to lead their children on an adventuresome spiritual journey.