When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, one of my first stops was the bookstore. I was looking for a book to guide me through the next 9 months, and another one to give me some idea of what I needed to know about this new life I was responsible for. There were books, dozens of them, but none of them addressed the development of my child's spirituality. What books I did find on the subject were dense academic tomes, so here I will boil down some of their information. Most researchers find that children pass through 4 or 5 "stages of faith," beginning in infancy and continuing through adulthood. Unlike physical development, many people stop along the way, spending more or less time in one stage or another as their personality or situation requires. Some spiritual directors liken the spiritual life to a spiral, where we revisit similar themes and issues throughout our lives from a different perspective.
Part III The Community of Faith
One of the hallmarks of a healthy church is the friendships that form. This is one of the critical elements in the third stage of faith development. "Church friends" provide a community where tweens and teens can begin to explore what it means to belong to this community of faith. In this context they can explore all the questions that are floating around: What do I really believe? How should I respond when people are mean? What should I do about the things that I see in the world that are not right? Where is God in this world? Will everyone still like me on a bad hair day? Belonging, no matter what is going on, is a critical part of being in the community of faith, so keep trying to bring your kids to church, even when they have purple hair. It will make a difference to them when an adult comes up to them and says, "Cool hair".
(I will continue with the Adult stages IV and V at a later time)