CBC Tapestry: How To DIY Your Kids Spirituality

I’m always looking for data based ways to provide my three boys with more tools to (hopefully) both help their mental wellness and their  ability to live mindful lives.

Never an easy task but often especially challenging  since we are doing it without the structure of organized religion – so it was great to have the chance to chat with Ali Hassan about his own experiences on this similar journey.

This piece first ran Sunday July 27, 2017 on CBC Tapestry.

From aromatherapy to volunteering: how to DIY your kids’ spirituality

Sunday July 30, 2017

What does it take to build your own spiritual framework for your kids?

What does it take to build your own spiritual framework for your kids? (PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

 Listen 16:30

How do you give your kids the benefits of spirituality without the trappings of organized religion? 

That’s the conundrum Reva Seth faces. She and her husband are raising their three sons in Toronto.

“All the data shows us that having a spiritual foundation has all of these incredible outcomes in terms of depression, addiction, mental health, mental wellness. I wanted to give that to my kids but I didn’t see myself joining an organized religion,” Seth tells Tapestry guest host Ali Hassan.

Instead of signing up at the nearest church, synagogue, or mosque, she decided to create her own secular traditions for her family.

Reva and her boys

Reva Seth says taking time for little rituals like aromatherapy or gratitude will help her boys’ mental health in the long run. (Courtesy)

Some of the rituals Seth has introduced to her children are group yoga classes, mindful meditation, gratitude practice, and aromatherapy. Some of these things are a hard sell for her three boys, but she believes it’s worth the effort.

“Sometimes it’s just so hard to just stop and say, ‘Ok we’re going to have a good day, you’ve got this'; there’s something you can connect to,” she says.

Seth was raised with Hinduism in the background, but it wasn’t a central part of her childhood.

“My mother had her own pujas set up. She would light incense in the morning and I think just take a moment for herself but that was her personal thing. My father viewed religion like insurance, like ‘just do it because you don’t know, but don’t ask a lot of questions.'”

Reva doing meditation with sons

Reva doing mindfulness meditation with her boys. She’s adopted many different traditions to give her kids a strong spiritual foundation. (Courtesy)

Although Seth strongly believes her secular curriculum is the best answer for her family, she admits that leaving the structure of organized religion presents challenges.

“I’ve had on my to-do list for the past year: ‘Find a place where the boys can go serve other people.’  When you stray away from your [religious] framework, you lose the community, you lose the opportunities. It would just be so much easier if they went there and after temple they served food or helped old people with their shoes. I have to now scramble around to find those opportunities.”

For Seth, the task of providing her boys with spirituality outside of organized religion is a work in progress.

And she believes the eye-rolls over scented oils and group meditation are worth it if, in the long run, her sons retain some tools to help them navigate the messy world around them.

Click LISTEN to hear more about Reva Seth’s DIY spiritual curriculum for kids.

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