Have you ever thought of having a spiritual director for your kids or grandkids? Have you ever thought of being one? It’s not enough to teach children “religion”–i.e., Catechism. We also need to teach them how to become saints.
I am developing a spiritual growth plan for my three older children. (J is a little too young at age three!) Here are the areas I am considering:
D is almost purely choleric, M is melancholic-phlegmatic, and C is primarily phlegmatic. (I haven’t completely figured him out yet–he’s eight and doesn’t know himself as well as the others do.)
Each of the four classical temperaments has a different perspective on life. Each has typical strengths and weaknesses. I seek to encourage my boys in their strengths and help them fight their weaknesses. I plan to do much of this through reading. Books will inspire them where lectures won’t.
Talents and interests
Temperament is only one part of personality. Each child has unique talents. For example, cholerics are bursting with energy, but one may be good at football and another at track.
Quiet and reserved M has a surprising acting ability.
How can my children use their gifts to glorify God? How can their talents help them choose a vocation and a career?
Developmental and academic level
In order to guide my children closer to Christ, I must understand the level of their intellectual and psychological development. I will consider Erik Erikson’s stages of psycho-social development, as well as Piaget’s stages of cognitive development.
These considerations should help me choose goals that are realistic for each child.
Saints and other famous people to study
Which saints shared my child’s temperament? Which saints’ stories will he find most interesting?
What historical figures can inspire my child to greater things? Could any provide a counter-example to serve as a warning against misusing one’s gifts?
Goals for prayer
By the time they graduate from high school, I want each of my children to have a habit of thirty minutes of mental prayer a day, preferably in the morning. I can’t help them meet this goal without specific plans for growth in prayer.
M and C will still need my guidance for prayer for some time. I hope to make more meditations that they can use on their own, as we begin to set aside a half hour at the beginning of each school day for Bible reading, prayer, and quiet time.
I hope to lead D to begin making short (five-minute) meditations on his own. Then each school year we can expand that time by five minutes until he reaches the thirty-minute goal. This will take some one-on-one help at the beginning, but I hope we have done enough meditations in the past that he can catch on to doing this on his own pretty quickly. As a choleric, he likes to take charge and have me step out of the way.
Goals for Bible reading and catechism
We should be finishing the New Testament soon, after several years of studying the Bible together. Next fall I want to have D and M reread and study parts of the Bible on their own. Again I will consider each boy’s temperament and interests, as well as what he remembers and what he needs to review. In high school, I hope we will study single books of the Bible at a higher level.
D and M will also study the early Church fathers, using some primary documents, as well as the early creeds.
C missed out on most of our Old Testament study, so I plan to go back to the beginning with him.
Bible-reading should be a part of life, not just part of a school subject. If we are to know God intimately, we must know what He has revealed about Himself. Nothing teaches the character of God like the Gospels.
Their dad’s input
All children need their fathers to show them how to live for God. Boys especially need this example.
While I focus on learning and prayer, Dan takes turns going on walks with each boy. They discuss any subject that is on our son’s mind. This deepens their relationship with Dan and allows them time to ask any awkward questions, especially ones they don’t feel comfortable asking me.
Templates coming for your use
As I develop a spiritual growth plan for my boys, I am creating templates I hope to share with you. This may become a major project after I finish my current book. In the meantime, I hope to offer you some checklists and journal pages as I complete them.
The spiritual health of our children is even more important than their physical health. We can’t leave it to chance.
Share with us: Have you made a spiritual growth plan for your kids? What else should I include in my plans? What helps would you like me to provide?