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 II The Forgiving Judge "IT"S NOT FAIR!!" So goes the rallying cry of the second stage of faith development. These little lawyers are looking for the sides of the box; they want to know what the rules are and just how far they can go before they break those rules. They want to know who is in and who is out and how they got that way. They like the image of God as a judge who will keep everyone in line. It's an image that comes easily in our culture, but one that can do great damage if not kept in check. Yes, there are rules-yet God is loving, forgiving, and merciful. Reminding your child of mercy and forgiveness, while keeping the rules, is a constant task. Good Luck!