Let’s talk about how to inspire children spiritually.
Something I’ve been thinking about lately.Lucy and Shawni at the LDS conference center
So I thought it was interesting that I came across this old blog post from March, 2018.
Five years ago.
I look back at old posts like this with a pondering mind. Would I have changed what I did then knowing what I know now?
There are plenty of things I’d change. But there are lots of things I’d keep the same as well. I mean, as you’re hanging on by your fingernails trying to get through the “trenches” with younger kids, it can be pretty hopeful to know that some things do come out right.

Two things I’m so glad I did with younger kids:

  • Work to stop time and be present. I am so grateful I was “there.” I hope my kids feel that too, but maybe sometimes that “being there” is even more important for the mama.
  • Strive to find ways to help foster spirituality in our kids. Spirituality is so important to me, so I’m so glad we worked to create a family culture to help kids develop their own relationships with God. Do they have it perfect? Nope. Do I? Nope again. But I believe that’s what life is really all about: making progress as we discover our divine identity. Making connections that change us. Learning to find humility: a broken heart and contrite spirit (one of my favorite phrases from the scriptures). These all take work and I think it’s such a beautiful thing to work into a family culture.

How to Inspire Children Spiritually

I’m going to start with the question and answer included in the original blog post from 2018, and then I’ll add my two cents looking back at this from my vantage point today.

Would love to hear how you inspire your children in a spiritual way. Love that you have a lot meaningful talks in the midst of everyday life. If you ever want to share a post on your tips on developing spirituality in children I would be all over it. Struggling on how to tap into my kids innate way of connecting with God. Thankfully my girls are still young, so there is time and some maturity will help. As for now, my five year old laughs during prayer and thinks God is not real.
I wouldn’t worry too much about that sweet five-year old of yours…I think faith and spirituality are always evolving.  I love what you said about your kids’ “innate way of connecting with God” because I do believe each child (and adult for that matter) connects in a slightly different way.  The key is building spirituality into part of a family culture.  Dave and I feel strongly that if we help our children develop a strong relationship with God they will be able to weather anything that comes their way in life.  If they can only remember to reach out, reach up, and let Him be their guide.
There are a few things we do in our family and I’d love others to pipe in because I know there are lots of good ideas out there.

Family Scriptures

I know I’ve talked about this a lot lately, but I do believe it’s the best way to have that “spiritual repetition” (remembering the “signs” Lucy and I read about in Narnia) simply built into the day.  As a family. We try to open our hearts and minds to the scriptures together each day. It serves as a constant reminder that we can connect with God. We have tried all different times of day, but morning seems to always win out in the end. I think we’ve been doing this for so many years it’s made the “snapshot” posts every year. 

Family Home Evening

We do this on Sundays and have a lesson about some spiritual aspect each week.  Sometimes these are impromptu lessons (most of the time)…just something we’ve been thinking about.  Sometimes the kids will want to relate something from a church lesson (in Primary sometimes their teachers have encouraged them to go home and teach their families about what they learned that day and I love that).  There are lots of good Family Home Evening ideas on lds.org, and I’ve posted about games we play for FHE and one little “FHE series” idea we did too (and lots of other places I’m sure).  Having an opportunity to discuss faith and spiritual ideas in a safe place is a beautiful thing.
Each month for that FHE on Fast Sundays we have our own family Testimony Meeting (see below).

Family Testimony Meeting

Each month on Fast Sunday we have our own family Testimony Meeting which is one of my very favorite things.  Because I believe “a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it” (I have no idea who said that, but I’ve held onto it for a lot of years).  If kids are given the opportunity to express what they believe, what they’re struggling with, even what they are hoping to gain a belief of…to share experiences in a safe environment, it builds those feelings and thoughts into tangible parts of their hearts.  Not sure if that makes sense, but I’ve written lots more about family testimony meetings and “fasting club” if you want to read more.

Family Prayer

We do this at meals, after family devotional, during Sunday Family Home Evenings, at bedtime, as a “huddle” a lot of the time, right before everyone leaves in different directions.  Oftentimes we will ask if anyone has anything particular they’d like us to pray for (a test at school, something they’re struggling with, etc.) so we can be united in pleading from Heaven for them.

Church Attendance

We attend church each week. 
It is such a beautiful way to renew our covenants, connect with God, connect with others who are trying to do the same. 
Lucy holding a hymn book at church

We do all these things and others I’m not thinking of right now, but I believe what you mentioned in the question is what really cements it all together: working meaningful conversations into the minutia of every-day life.  Because really, that’s were all that faith-building comes into play.  
All day, every day.  
It could be in the car on the way to practice, talking through what someone on the team who may not be the nicest may be dealing with. It could be worked into talking through one child’s sorrow over feeling intensely lonely and like they are lacking in friends. Work that spirituality in when kids are struggling in a particular class at school or requesting guidance to figure out the next step in life or how to deal with emotions that come with those steps. Bring it into conversations when one kid is trying to deal with a sibling who might be driving them crazy. Every single thing that comes along can be related back to that relationship with God.
That all-knowing loving God who wants to carry them through the hard things if they’ll let Him.
chapel with statue of crucifixion
Sometimes it takes reminding ourselves that He’s there.  Wanting to hold our hand through the tantrums and the sorrows and the hardships. And also celebrating the triumphs (often when something great happens we gather immediately in a little huddle to THANK GOD for the good things that happen…from finding car keys to an “answer” to a tough decision).
He is there.  Oh, how I hope these kids can always remember that.  And that they have a Savior who paved the way so that we can all return to Him some day.

My additional thoughts from my current vantage point

There are lots of parenting tactics that come and go over the years, but I’m so glad these ones have stayed as constant as they have. They have given us so much to talk about and so many opportunities to turn to God together which I think has the power to create such a strong bond in a family.
In recent years we haven’t been as good about opening the scriptures together. Instead we have done short devotionals listening to the Come Follow Me app that I’ve mentioned lots of times before. (“Come Follow Me” is a program in our church that helps us study the scriptures together, it is awesome.) We love that app and having that little snippet of spirituality each morning. And it’s easy to do even when we only have one kid around like we do these days! I do want to work on opening the scriptures together more though. Lots of power in that.
There are some old comments from the original post still attached here, but I’d love to hear what YOU do in your family to help your children create spiritual foundations.

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  1. Hi, Shawni – I wanted to ask your opinion about mainstream Christian worship music. A couple Mormons I have talked to have expressed that they don’t listen to worship music, aside from the hymns that are taught within the church. Personally, music has always inspired me spiritually and helps me feel more connected to God!

    1. Mormon here and I love worship music😊. It's just not some people's thing, but it's not connected to the religion necessarily. I love all music that helps me feel connected to God👍.

    2. I’m also Mormon and we love worship music! That’s mostly what we listen to in the car. The messages are MUCH better than mainstream radio songs. I took my 13 year old daughter on a date to a worship music concert and we had a great time!

    3. I'm with you, I love any music that inspires…music is an amazing way to be uplifted spiritually. Some of my favorite spiritual songs are not necessarily hymns…although I love those too. Lucy has been insisting we listen to "The Miracle" over and over again over here in anticipation of Easter (here: https://shawnaedwardsmusic.com/pages/the-miracle) and there are some awesome songs on EFY albums that have such beautiful messages. Kerstin I love that you guys sang "I am a Child of God" for the baptism…one of my favorites 🙂

  2. I went back and forth on whether to comment or not. Original poster, I also do not believe that a god is real. I'm quite happy with my life. It's entirely possible that your religion will brush off on your 5 year old. But if not, it's not the end of the world. As I said, I'm quite happy. My family does worry for me but I don't. I don't really know what to say and maybe I shouldn't have commented but it's possible to have a good, fulfilling life without religion. I know it's not ideal for you, but isn't life and parenting really about making them happy and making sure they turn into good humans? I love this blog and I read a lot of catholic mom blogs and I'm not a jerk. To each their own. But they can still be good humans. 🙂

    1. You should comment, it’s a valid point! (And you don’t sound like a jerk). The original poster probably wants her daughter to experience the same bond she has with God because it’s something she values. Belief in God or not, this daughter will probably turn out to be a kind person and a positive contributor to society. It’s like tasting good food—you want someone you care about to have the yummy experience, too. (At least, that’s how I feel as a religious mom). I’m sure you have certain experiences you value that you would hope others you care about would value, too. But you’re right, our kids may find happiness and fulfillment in a different way than we do, and though it can be hard for us, that’s the beautiful thing about our freedom to choose ��

    2. I love your comment, BearikaBallerina, I am so grateful when people add different perspectives in such a positive way to this blog. Lauren's response was better than one I could give (thank you Lauren) so I won't re-state but I do want to thank you for your input.

      1. I also would like to say that, just like BearikaBallerina, I live my life without god and religion, but I love your blog and its positive, encouraging tone, attitude, and advice. And your comment to BearikaBallerina gave me a happy feeling tonight, thank you!!!

    3. You two are awesome. I love the positivity (my computer says that word isn't real…what…) in the blogs and how they carry into the comments. Thank you for your kind responses. 🙂 I wasn't sure what kind of response I would get and I'm so glad to see I didn't get ripped to shreds because, sadly, it's hard to have a civil conversation with adults these days, especially with different viewpoints, and especially when it comes to people expressing different beliefs. This is refreshing!

      I hope you both had a great weekend and have a great week. 🙂 I'm so tired.

    4. Your kids could also believe there is a God. Just like you could decide not believe in God. And still be perfectly happy. I’m not entirely sure what the existence of God has to do with happiness. Parents can pass down religion. Faith is up to the individual and it can change or remain.

  3. These are such wonderful ideas/tips (my parents did some of them growing up, which I greatly appreciate!). And, I love that you can do most of them for any religion. Thank you for your thoughts ��

  4. You quoted a line from one of my favorites, President Boyd K. Packer: “A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it. Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that ‘leap of faith,’ as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and step into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two.”

  5. I hope this isn’t too personal to ask. But now that your children are adults so they still follow your religion, or have they found different paths?

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