Chapter 12: Spiritual Experiences and Capacities of Children and Youth
Spiritual experiences and capacities of children and youth There is a growing body of evidence that children have spiritual capacities and experiences—moments, both little and large, that shape their lives in enduring ways. These varied experiences reveal a rich and significant spiritual life that has gone largely unrecognized in the annals of child development and yet may provide one of the most fundamental sources of human motivation. The evidence of these experiences and innate capacities challenges conventional views of childhood spiritual life and therefore has significant implications for the care and nurture of young people both within and outside of religious contexts. Yet it has often been difficult for adults to recognize this spiritual life. Traditionally, developmental theory has been largely dismissive of the idea that children have genuine spiritual experiences and capacities (e.g., Goldman, 1964; Wilber, 1996). Children have generally been seen as developmentally immature, without sufficient intellectual growth ...