Observing Earth Day as a Family

Earth Day (April 22) marks more than 50 years of organized global attention to the environment. It officially falls on a Monday this year,

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Different Kinds of Curiosity

My eldest child likes to figure out how things work. When she was three, she shocked our neighbor by explaining the mechanics of a refrigerator.

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Kids’ Imaginations

When my children were young, we played all kinds of imaginative games. Sometimes we took our cues from stories we had read together.

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Kids, Ramadan & Food Insecurity

As the war between Israel and Palestine continues, many Palestinian parents struggle to feed their families. Violence disrupts humanitarian aid efforts.

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Telling Your Child You’re Seriously Ill

After weeks of endless (and often unkind) speculation, we now know: Princess Kate has cancer. She explains that she and Prince William chose not to go public immediately because they needed to figure out how to tell their kids.

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When Kids See Life as a Quest

My son jumped excitedly from foot to foot as he waited impatiently for the clock to strike midnight. Our local bookstore was holding a launch party for the latest Harry Potter installment and he couldn’t wait to get his hands on a copy.

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Help Kids Be Relational Thermostats

“He made me feel bad!” wailed my son after telling me how a friend chose a different playmate at recess.

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More Gratitude, Please

My mother firmly believed that children should write thank you notes for any gifts we received. If we didn’t get them done within a week,

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Talking with Kids about the Chiefs Parade Shooting

Nearly a million people were celebrating the Kansas City Chiefs and their Super Bowl win when shots rang out,

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The Science of Gratitude

“Tank you” said my daughter’s two year old friend as I passed out cookies to everyone in our neighborhood playgroup.

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Fridge Spirituality

My refrigerator is covered in activity schedules, a recycling calendar, family photos, and children’s art. Anyone walking into our kitchen would get a pretty good picture of what interests us and how we spend our days.

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How Social Media Works

When my friend’s children want to find a new book to read, they turn to TikTok. The app lets them search for videos about popular fiction similar to other books they’ve enjoyed.

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Resolve to Learn Together

People of all ages make personal New Year’s resolutions. Adults resolve to be more patient, develop an exercise routine,

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Santa Spirituality

For many families, Christmas is – in whole or in part – a cultural rather than a religious holiday.

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Helping Young Children Connect Actions with Consequences

As preschoolers, my kids love playing with story blocks. Our set consisted of wooden tiles depicting various characters, places,

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Encouraging Creative Thinking

While hanging out with a babysitter one evening, my children decided to create their own tabletop game. They drew a board on a large sheet of poster paper,

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Practicing Calm

When my kids were little, getting everyone out of the house on time without tears or tantrums was a daily challenge.

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National Coming Out Day

My sister was 18 when she came out. It was a chaotic time in my family of origin, with lots of tears,

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Acknowledging Hurt & Making Amends

Yom Kippur, the annual Jewish Day of Atonement, begins the evening of Sunday, September 24. It is a time for deep reflection on one’s attitudes and actions over the course of the last year.

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How Curiosity Enhances Relationships

My daughter and her best friend met in 2nd grade. Their first weeks together were spent asking each other questions: What’s your favorite color?

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Helping Children Find Their Anchors

As we were preparing to move from one state to another, my four year old fell apart. “Where’s my train,

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Making Kindness a Goal

My social media feeds have been flooded with ‘first day of school’ photos. Children stand holding signs proclaiming their grade in school and –

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Affirming Gender Diversity

When my children were young, we dressed them in a rainbow of hues. Some people found this frustrating because they couldn’t reliably guess our kids’ genders.

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Celebrating Juneteenth with Young Children

The United States’ newest federal holiday, Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of African Americans from slavery. It can be a complicated event to mark with young children because talking about slavery is tough.

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Not-So-Random Acts of Kindness

Walking through the farmer’s market last weekend, I overheard a conversation between a coffee vendor and a customer. The vendor didn’t take credit cards and the customer didn’t have cash.

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Remembering Wars & Warriors with Children

“I found it mom, I found it!” called my daughter. ‘It’ was her great-uncle’s name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington,

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Cultivating Virtues

As my eldest child ran off the soccer field after another bruising loss, I prepared to console her and her teammates.

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Generational Spirituality

Spirituality isn’t just a social, emotional, or cultural aspect of life. It’s also biological, passed from generation to generation at a cellular level.

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Sharing the ‘Hard Parts’ of the Christian Easter Story

As I was recounting the events of the Christian Holy Week with a group of children, Jess* waved her hand wildly in the air to get my attention.

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Talking about the Nashville School Shooting

Another school shooting, this time in Nashville. Seven people dead (including the shooter) and many more traumatized survivors. Lives changed forever by gun violence.

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How Kids Learn to Remember

What’s your earliest autobiographical memory? If you are like most people, it’s probably a significant event from your preschool years: the birth of a sibling,

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Shifting Bad Habits to Good Practices

When I was a child, I bit my nails. It was a reflexive action whenever I felt stressed or anxious.

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Boosting Resilience with a ‘Helping Hand’

My kindergartener woke in the middle of the night sobbing. We had just learned earlier that her friend’s mom had been struck and killed while walking across a street.

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Babies & Racial Bias

My nine month old daughter cowered in my arms. She clearly didn’t want to interact with the person who had just approached me.

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Family Hygge

It’s snowing outside, and all anyone wants to do is bundle up in a blanket, sip hot chocolate, and read.

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Addressing Empathy Deficits

“Jamal is icky. He walks with a limp and talks funny.” “Suzanne is so stupid! She looks weird, too.” Such cringe-worthy statements can be upsetting when they come out of our children’s mouths.

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Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Reading books about Martin Luther King, Jr. was more than an annual event when my children were young. We had several,

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Helping Kids Have a ‘Happy’ New Year

“10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…Happy New Year!” My family celebrated the start of 2023 with sparkling apple juice toasts, hugs, and noisemakers. We welcome the new year and its new opportunities for living the good life that we all crave.

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Family Solstice Celebrations

When my children were young, a family friend invited us to a winter solstice party. There were sparklers and glow sticks,

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Encouraging Empathy When It’s Hard

Holiday shows play on our sense of connection to beloved characters. Kids who have been left out or bullied know how Rudolph feels.

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Developing Patience

“How many more days, mom? How many more?” Every December, my kids would be hyper-charged with excitement for the winter holidays.

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Celebrating Native American Heritage

When I was growing up, November was a month filled with images of ‘pilgrims’ and ‘Indians’ sharing a traditional meal of turkey,

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Why Kids Need Silence

As a parent, I used to be suspicious of silence. If I wasn’t hearing sounds from the next room,

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Encouraging Children to Lead

“Mom, I saw some people asking for money by the off ramp. They didn’t have any coats and it’s pretty cold outside.

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Children, Community Science & Climate Change

Earlier this month, the Pacific Ocean made news because it is shrinking faster than scientists expected. One reason (unsurprisingly) is climate change.

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Nurturing a Flexible Mindset

“But mom, you don’t understand! Practice ran over and now the internet is down and I can’t get to the language lab site.

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Sit Spots

Now that school is back in session, children have much less time to spend outdoors. Pressure to prepare kids for standardized tests has resulted in shorter recess periods.

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Reexamining Humility as a Spiritual Virtue

Growing up, I was frequently told that good girls should be humble. I was expected to hide my intelligence and avoid conflict because it wasn’t ‘becoming’ for a girl to debate ideas or express disagreement.

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How Gratitude Builds Community

We hear a lot about supply chain ‘issues’ right now. Store shelves are emptier than in pre-pandemic days. Online shopping results in more ‘out of stock’ messages than usual.

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Helping Children Explore Rules

No running in the house. Look both ways before crossing the street. Treat others with respect. These common family rules shape our children’s lives.

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Visible Spiritual Thinking

My kids used to love puzzles that involved figuring out an unknown object from a close-up photo. They developed a set of basic questions they would ask themselves to narrow the options.

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Talking with Kids about the Reversal of Roe v. Wade

Since the Supreme Court decision last month striking down Roe v. Wade, the news is full of stories about what the ruling means for women and girls.

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Cueing Spiritual Language

When my son was learning about lower case letters, he got into an argument with his preschool teacher about the letter ‘t’.

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3 Kinds of Spiritual Engagement

A couple of weeks ago, I observed a group of children in a local day camp program. The leader asked them to identify their five senses.

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Please Don’t Praise the Kids

“You’re so smart!”

These three words come easily to mind when children do or say something that demonstrates intelligence.

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Gay Pride Spirituality

It’s Gay Pride Month, and families of all sorts are celebrating diversity. Colorful rainbow flags attract children’s attention and appeal to their sense of fun.

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Modeling Gratitude

“Thank you.” Two simple words we teach children when they’re small and hope they will use often.

Giving thanks is one of the most basic spiritual practices a child can learn.

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Talking with Kids about the Uvalde School Shooting

A school terrorized by an active shooter. A classroom of children injured and dead. Teachers killed trying to protect their students.

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Imaginative Play & Spirituality

“Do you have a minute?” asked my daughter’s preschool teacher. “Of course,” I replied, “Is something wrong?”

“Oh,

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Taming Anxiety

One of my children goes quiet when she’s anxious. Another talks incessantly and blows up when he gets overwhelmed.

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Caring for the Earth Together

Blowing dandelion seeds, chasing fireflies, and watching caterpillars munch on milkweed – these were some of my children’s favorite outdoor activities.

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Helping Children Set Meaningful Goals

Purpose is an important aspect of a healthy spiritual life. Children have hopes and dreams. They want to make a difference in the world.

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The Spiritual Effects of Nature

My children loved going for walks when they were little. They would point out flowers, watch a caterpillar inch its way across the sidewalk,

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Finding Our Calm

When my middle child was in third grade, she was very anxious about taking tests. Her stomach would hurt and she would obsess about all the things that might go wrong.

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Chapter Book Spirituality with Preschoolers

When my children were babies, I would read aloud from whatever book I had at hand to sooth them when they were fussy.

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Celebrating Black History Year-Round

With the calendar shift from February to March, we’ve gone from remembering Black history to lifting up women and their accomplishments.

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Talking about the War in Ukraine

A refugee toddler’s body washed up face down on a beach. A police officer kneeling on a handcuffed Black man’s neck.

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Spirituality & Black History

February is Black History Month, a time when parents, teachers, and the media share stories of African American civil rights leaders with children.

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Helping Children Understand Love

I have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. It’s an opportunity to celebrate relationships with friends and loved ones,

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Digital Spirituality with Young Children

A friend posts a snapshot of her three year old daughter on social media. Sonia* has her head bent over her mom’s smartphone,

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Play & Spirituality

Play is a central part of children’s lives and their spiritual journeys. When they use their bodies to explore the world,

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Do Threats of Punishment Serve a Spiritual Purpose?

To Elf or not to Elf? Every December, parents on my social media feeds wrestle with this Christmas conundrum.

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Why Children Confuse God with Santa

Santa is everywhere these days. Well before Thanksgiving, store displays and commercials were selling products in his name and with his likeness.

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Gender & Toys

“He has a doll?!” my mother exclaimed, disapproval ringing in her words. She couldn’t believe I would let my three year old son push a babydoll around in a miniature stroller.

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Expressing Gratitude

An American celebration of Thanksgiving generally involves liberal helpings of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pie, plus whatever other traditional or quirky foods a family loves.

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Spiritual Brain Power

When my eldest child was three, she shocked our neighbor by explaining in detail how a refrigerator works. Amber loved mechanical things,

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Environmental Justice for Preschoolers

As global leaders gather in Glasgow to discuss climate change, one message is clear: environmental justice isn’t just a trendy message.

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Encouraging Active Empathy

My daughter came home talking about a new girl in her class. Since being the new kid can be challenging,

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Do Children Believe in Halloween Ghouls?

When my oldest was four, she insisted on dressing up as Pluggie the Fire Plug for Halloween. A staple at neighborhood events,

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Developing Spiritual Persistence

I am often so excited when I begin a new spiritual practice, I expect to see immediate benefits. In my enthusiasm,

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Yoga with Children

I keep returning to yoga practice in my adult life. It provides me with a space to be present in my body and helps me to notice what I am feeling and where I am carrying stress or worry that might affect my choices and actions.

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Change Sings

Social change can be scary for children (and adults). Much of parenting young children involves teaching them to obey rules and follow directions for their own safety and wellbeing.

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Welcoming Afghan Refugees

Many of the refugees airlifted to the U.S. out of Afghanistan last month are currently housed at Fort Lee in Virginia,

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Why Children Won’t Ask for Help

“Go ask your teacher for help,” I told my daughter again. For a whole grading period, she had been struggling with long division.

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Social Emotional Learning at Home

My second child would become easily overwhelmed as a toddler. If we were shopping at the mall, she would start crying and want to go home.

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Exploring Spiritual Traditions through Objects

One of my grown daughters will only drink grape juice if she has bread to dip in it. It’s a throwback to her childhood experiences of communion by intinction: a Christian ritual in which participants dip a piece of bread in a cup filled with juice or wine and consume it.

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Teaching Hope

I’ll admit that I have generally thought of hope as an emotional state: an optimistic feeling of possibilities unfolding.

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Trust and Promises

As I left the gym, I overheard a mother tell her young son, “We need to get home right now and get snacks together for your siblings,

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Learning to Forgive

Sibling squabbles were a daily part of life when my children were preschoolers. They erupted when one child would steal a toy from another or not want to play fairly. 

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Spiritual Connectedness

One of my favorite preschool parenting moments was watching my children chase fireflies around our backyard on a summer evening.

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Spiritual Activities for Public Spaces

Children spend a lot of time in public spaces: shopping at grocery stores, waiting for buses, washing clothes at laundromats,

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The Myth of Selfishness

A toddler tantruming when another child plays with one of their toys. Siblings bickering over who got the bigger piece of cake.

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How Spirituality Shapes Imagination

The other day I spread out a play mat for a friend’s four-year-old son and gave him a few hot wheels.

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Infant Stress & Spirituality

Throughout the pandemic, news reports and magazine articles have encouraged us to think deeply about developing mental health practices that sustain our children and ourselves.

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Managing Big Emotions with Mindfulness

When my children were little and dealing with sibling arguments, I taught them a quick mindfulness practice to help them manage their frustration.

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Self-Esteem vs. Narcissism

In Wonder Woman 1984, young Diana, Amazon princess of Themyscira, desperately wants to win a competition. She is in the lead for much of the race,

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Spiritual Reminiscing

Parents talk with young children about the past a lot. We remind them of the last time they saw their cousins.

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Developing Trust

When it comes to deciding what information about spirituality to trust and what to doubt, children acquire useful skills quite early in life.

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Talking with Kids about the Derek Chauvin Verdict

My family was doing our regular post-school, pre-dinner thing when the radio paused its scheduled programming to announce the Derek Chauvin verdict.

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Explaining Gun Violence

Mass shootings have become commonplace in the U.S. No matter how a parent feels about gun control, the thought of explaining to a child why a group of people have been shot creates anxiety.

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Children’s God Concepts

Regardless of whether your family’s spirituality is tied to religious ideas or a specific religious tradition, your child has probably developed a concept of God.

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Exploring Life & Death with Soul

Pixar movies are beloved by both children and adults for their creative stories, well-developed characters, and beautiful visuals. One of my favorite things about these movies is that they often explore complex themes in a child-friendly way.

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Children’s Spiritual Questions

“Mommy, why did Jennifer* get cancer?”

This probing question from my nine year old daughter caught me off guard.

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Family Hospitality

“Look at what I made,” says my son, holding up to me his newest drawing.

I respond,

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Inward & Outward Spirituality

With many sports, after-school activities, clubs, service projects, and in some cases, in-person school canceled, children currently have a lot of time to focus on their personal life.

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Stimulating Spiritual Curiosity

When my children were younger, they regularly asked deep spiritual questions. Preschool drop-off conversations were filled with reflections on why the grass was green instead of blue or orange or how to become a rainbow,

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Being Good

My sister-in-law bought me a t-shirt that says “be a good human.” Every time I wear it, people comment on the advice.

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Children’s Invisible Companions

Some children develop imaginary friends to keep them company. Others describe spiritual experiences that feature visions of angels or conversations with long-dead ancestors.

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