Excerpt from Fathers-To-Be Handbook, by Patrick M. Houser
Spirituality is another element of becoming a father. The child you are caring for is more than just a body. There is also an invisible yet vital element that is the soul or spirit. This lies at the very core of your child’s being. It contains his creative potential and highest ideals.
Like all aspects of a child, it needs to be nurtured. Be aware of the soul within, and hold it as you hold your child’s body: gently, kindly and with the greatest respect. Embrace their spirit and know they embrace yours. When you hold your newborn baby in your arms you can feel the deepest spiritual connection you share. The miracle of pregnancy, birth and early infancy has the possibility to soften and transform the strongest and most formidable of men.
Embrace your spiritual potential as a father. You can provide the framework in which your children’s spirit can unfold. Providing the security of a safe home and a structure for them to expand into are key. Going to work each day and looking after your children may seem mundane, but it is spirituality in action, and central to their well-being. Virtues such as compassion, unconditional love and forgiveness are spiritual lessons you can also provide. The unique blend of mind, body and spirit that is your child needs direction that only you, his father, can provide.
Whatever guidance you seek to give your child, be the teaching. Children learn about respect by being respected. They learn about trust by being trusted. Children learn best through example.
Rather than trying to mold them into your likeness, what if you listened very carefully and let them tell you who they want to become? In this way, you are not so much teaching them, but supporting the awakening of their souls. This happens by finding more and more ways to say yes to who they are. If we recognize the spiritual nature of each of us, then we only need to love our children beyond all measure, trust the process and watch them unfold.
The Dalai Lama is the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism. From a very young age he was raised as someone special. He was told that he had an extraordinary purpose in this life and that he would accomplish great things. He was treated with tremendous respect by everyone. It was also clear that this was his destiny and he should study and learn as much as possible, so as to do his best in his life’s work. Look at who he has become. He teaches peace through everything he says and does—even peace with his people’s oppressors. In my opinion, this is no coincidence. Putting aside religious beliefs or practices, imagine the outcome if every child were raised similarly. What if all children were told that they are someone special, they have unique gifts and an extraordinary life purpose to fulfill, one that only they can? What if all children were treated with that level of care and respect, by everyone? Imagine.
Also consider the possibility that your children are destined to be your greatest teachers. A wise old soul may be found in the youngest of bodies. This concept may be just the opposite of what you might have thought. What if you became his student and allowed yourself to learn from him? Listen carefully.
Be open to the Spirit of Fatherhood, and all it has to offer. The rewards will be great. It is all a spiritual experience. Thank you, God!
This article appeared in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #34.
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