A few months ago, Shawn reached out to me with an ambition to spread his message of hope for people suffering from mental illness, to new parents with children they do not understand, and to those who have spiritual gifts, but no mentor to help them develop these. In his words, the common theme is that I would like to help misunderstood people. I was moved by his email and mission and dived right into exploring what our conversation could do for the world. And together we chose to explore the topic of raising spiritual children.
Personally, this topic holds great importance to me because I started my spiritual journey as a bachelor, where life was relatively easy and simple. I just lived alone and I did my thing. And then occasionally at work, I would interact with people but then go home and meditate it off.
Then, when I got married, there was a lot more inner work required because my ego experienced many new triggers – husband, in-laws, family, and whatnot. I’ve worked hard on this path to continue approaching life very spiritually and now, I’m ready for the next level. Where it’s like – how do you be spiritual around kids? Especially those that are your own kids?
I think of Shawn as an amazing person to be talking to about all of this based on the interactions we’ve had, his insights in his book, as well as our conversation. I trust that you’ll also echo my awe of his worldview.
Who is Shawn Murphy?
Shawn is an engineer and scientist that has a very logical way of looking at the spiritual world. And the work he does now comes out of that. He is currently the author of the series Torn Between Two Worlds and an active blogger on Quora.
We’ll be discussing chapter 10 of his book, Modern Medicine & Spiritual Healing.
Spirituality & Parenting – Raising Spiritual Children
As I dive into this conversation with Shawn, I’d like to share one of my favorite poems by the timeless poet, Khalil Gibran. In his book, The Prophet, he shares:
“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which
you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make
them like you.”
I feel like this poem beautifully correlates to what Shawn has written in chapter 10 of his book. And the first thing that really stood out to me from his writing was how he shared about the three tasks of a parent – the role model, the coach, and the cheerleader. Here’s him exploring more of these roles with us.
The 3 Roles of a Parent
People wonder, as their role as a parent, should I be a friend of my child or should I try to tell my child what to do.
I’ve seen the most growth between parents and children when there’s a role model there. Someone who is just living the life, chasing your dreams, chasing your passions, and sharing that with your children. Not trying to hide all the failures but really sharing everything with your children.
And I found in my time as a father, those times when I shared the failures, were the most impactful for my daughter.
Whether it’s your husband or wife or your child, you don’t want to be set up on a pedestal. There’s no learning that happens – it just becomes adoration. Learning happens when we really share what’s deep in our hearts, with our children. And that allows them to open up to us also.
Then, as a coach, you are standing beside your child and looking for their talents. Looking for their interests, and encouraging them to pursue those the things that make them happy. Not the things that make me happy as a parent, but the things that that they’re talented at that they’re gifted in. It’s about recognizing those gifts and coaching them standing beside them. Not standing behind them, not standing over them.
I was given a daughter who has talents that I don’t understand. And so the only role I can take in her life is a cheerleader. You know, help find the right coach but not be a passive participant.
I was talking to another young woman, who said, her parents let her do anything that she wanted. But, they didn’t really appreciate what she was doing. They just let her do it. So, being a cheerleader, is, about saying “I don’t understand what you’re doing. I’m, just in wonder and awe of what you’re doing. And keep doing it. Try to do it better”.
As Shawn shared this with me, I was blown away by how significant cheerleading is from my parents on this journey of writing and coaching about all things spirituality. They don’t necessarily get all of it, but they stand by me through it all. I then wondered out loud how can one be a good role model and not project their own biases on their kids. Here was Shawn’s insight.
How to Help Children Become More Authentic
One of the things that I talked about in that chapter was the period my daughter went through when she was 12 years old. She walked into the kitchen where I was sitting at the table reading a book and sat down. She didn’t say anything. And I asked, Well, what’s wrong? You look really depressed.
She looked at her weekly schedule for her school and after-school activities and said, there’s not a single day in the week that’s fun. And you could just see it in her she was completely depressed about starting school the next day. So I said, Go back in your room, get a new piece of paper and draw me the schedule that you’d like to have.
And so she came back and she put it in front of me and I said to her, that’s what your mother would like. Then I sent her back to start over.
She came skipping back and she put it in front of me and she said you’re never gonna let me do this. And I looked at it. You’ve given up swimming. You’re the top swimmer.
But she replied, I’m a great swimmer, but it’s lonely.
I said you’re giving up your violin.
She replied I want to sing when I’m playing. So I want to play the piano. I can’t sing when I’m playing the violin.
In this way, she changed her life around and it made her very happy.
And I share this story because it goes back to what you’re talking about – projection.
I’ve seen this as my daughter was growing up. My wife was trying to project onto our daughter her desire to redo her childhood. And, that’s one of the typical ones that happen – not to make the same mistakes that they made during their childhood and do it better. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that when she was born.
We continued unpacking more questions around raising spiritual children:
- What tools can parents explore if they have not experienced conscious parenting while they were growing up?
- I’ve seen parents extensively plan every minute of their children’s routine and feel resentful, frustrated, and burned out. Can you share your spiritual reflection on this and any tips on how parents (including single parents) can “let go” and consciously create that village for their children?
- How can you share your life’s challenges with your children without emotional dumping?
- You talk about children with special needs as a failure on the parents’ and teachers’ part to recognize the diverse talents. Could you speak more about that?
- Can you offer us insight on how to develop more capacity and patience?
- And much more…
You can listen and watch our full conversation below:
What really stands out to me about Shawn’s mindset is that he treats parenting as a collaborative process. There is a huge responsibility on caregivers to look after young ones, but his worldview reminds us to trust the wisdom of our young ones and to let them bring their intuition to life. I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, and it opened up multiple new ways of looking at parenthood.
We hope you enjoyed this rich conversation and that it inspires you to deepen your capacity to be with children more spiritually! Do share your reflections (and any bonus tips you’ve used in your journey) in the comments below.
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