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VIDEO: Springtide Research Institute | Our Interfaith Panel’s Advice to Parents | What advice would you give to young people who are asking spiritual questions amidst their own personal faith journeys?


I would like for us to talk about advice.

What advice would you give to parents who have kids around Margaret’s age, who might be exploring their faith traditions?

Or what advice would you give to young people who are asking these spiritual questions amid their own faith journeys?


I am team auntie as well. I would say to parents who have kids around Margaret’s age, if there is a way in which you can encourage conversation, encourage them to ask questions, a safe place for them to say the things that they might otherwise be too nervous or shy or scared to ask somewhere else so that they can at least have some foundation that they can build from. And like any other conversation, giving them as much of the information as you possibly can that will make sense for where they are developmentally and mentally. And all the thing, how do they understand information at this age? And then so what does that mean about how I have this conversation? I’m a big proponent of bringing the information in a glass in which people will drink from. What does the glass need to look like in order for the information to be received? For young people who are asking these sorts of questions, spiritual questions amidst different faith journeys, I just say whatever you can do to support that, to nourish that, to help them feel like this is the best thing ever is to ask these questions and reconcile for yourself.

We all reconcile our own spiritual life through trempling boldness.


Would be my advice. Just really nourish in any ways that you can and support in any ways you can. That growing and birth and excited journey life.

Love it.

Any other pieces of advice you want to throw on that? That was pretty good.

That’s pretty solid. Yeah, I love this idea that Reverend Natalie offers of bringing information in a glass that folks can drink from. And I think maybe my one addition to that would be this notion of a guide. As Dr. Angela pointed out, there is no lack of information. It is so easy to get information. But context or a guide or somebody to help interpret or process that information seems super important. And again, like we’ve already said, it doesn’t have to be a parent who is that interpretive guide here. I think the film models several other positive adults in Margaret’s life, like Mr. Benedict, who says, Hey, I noticed you wrote on your questionnaire that you hate religious holidays. Why do you think that is? Can you tell me more about that? And to ask with open, gentle questions. Or there are these other moments where other folks ask her questions that helps her gain some more clarity in her searching. So it’s not just this gathering of information that she doesn’t have, but somebody to help interpret that or to put it into a place that makes sense for her. So again, find your people, family, friends, teachers, mentors, and to be aware of the ways that you just might need a team to respond to kids who are asking big questions and who you might trust to be on that team and just modeling gracious conversations, curiosity, open presence as somebody’s asking big questions means that we have to deal with our own anxieties and our own traumas.

And if there’s something that’s triggering us in that space, that means maybe we need help from therapy or counseling or a place to process that that’s not going to place the burden on these kids who are asking big questions. But I love Reverend Natalie’s just encouragement to stoke the fire. If kids are asking big questions, it is totally fine to say, you know what? I don’t know, but I’d like to learn more about it together. Who can we ask next? You know what I mean?

Absolutely. Because it can be so overwhelming. Life has these huge questions and you can help them to approach them right from a place of joy and excitement rather than, Oh, my God. There’s so much. I think that’s such an important framing that will set them up for the rest of their life.

Absolutely. Right. And even just to say, just because I’m a grown up doesn’t mean that I have all the answers. I’m asking this question, too. You know what? I don’t know either. When I think about that kid who asked me, why hasn’t God done it yet? And I’m like, Listen, I don’t know. Why hasn’t God done it yet? I don’t have the answers, but I can promise I’m asking questions, too. And I think having that space, again, I think relieves that pressure valve where kids feel like they have to have it all figured out because everything feels so big. The stakes feel so high to them. And if you can say in a way that models that relaxing to say, you know, that’s a really good question. And I wonder that as well. And then maybe we can keep asking some questions together rather than trying to rush in with an answer or a solution or a program or a plan. But just to sit with them in the midst of their questions feels like the important work in this growing space.


I love this approach. It’s reminding me of a moment in the Torah in the Hebrew Bible.


The Israelitesites are receiving the 10 teachings. The Hebrew says, naasever nishma, which means we will do and we will listen. The rabbits of Jewish tradition love to talk about, not seven days a mile. Why should you do before you listen? And there’s lots and lots of answers to that. But I actually think it’s the reverse in this situation in terms of advice or guidance for parents. It’s actually nishma bne assay, which is like, listen, just listen, and then maybe think about doing later. But really just give your undivided, loving attention and your presence to kids, especially when they’re having a hard time or asking big questions or having big feelings, because them just knowing that you’re there to witness and not fix or change them can be such a comfort. Nishma venas e is what I would say. Listen first and then do later. Beautiful.


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