One of my goals this year is to give parents more tools to raise Unitarian Universalist children. An important way to do this is to integrate Unitarian Universalism into home life so that a full week faith is practiced instead of just on Sunday morning. Ours is a faith where we live our values. Children learn and internalize their concepts of faith by watching and learning from their parents.
Reflecting on my own religious background growing up Catholic in an interfaith marriage. I attended religious education (CCD) once a week but religion and spirituality were never a topic or practice in my childhood home. My parents must have been uncomfortable with the whole subject of religion. As a result, I never felt or identified as a “real” catholic.
Thankfully parents, children’s primary religious educators, can raise a young Unitarian Universalist by intentionally bringing UUism into their home. Listed below are some suggestions for integrating Unitarian Universalism in to your home routine. A good way to start is to pick one suggestion and try it for a period of time. I’d love to hear how it goes.
- Have something in your house that says you are Unitarian Universalists: a chalice, a wall hanging, a stained glass chalice pendant.
- Light a family chalice at family meals, give thanks, and ask for support in your own lives, in helping others in your family and friendship circle and for peace in the world.
- Share joys and sorrows or highs and lows. (I was often surprised what I learned from my sons from this simple ritual.)
- At bedtime, comment on UU values in bedtime stories.
- Participate in a bedtime prayer. My suggestion: T.H.I.S. (One thing your thankful for, one thing you hope will happen, one thing your sorry for and would like to improve, and one person to send loving thoughts to.)
- Mention the UU principals and how they relate to the way you live your life. For example, when you recycle relate it to your UU beliefs about the interdependent web.
- Develop your own spiritual beliefs and share these beliefs with your children. Talk with your children about spiritual questions and topics.
- Bring your children to UUCWC as often as you can and don’t allow your child to make the decision of whether to attend church. If your family is engaged, UUCWC will be an important part of their emotional support system.
- Ask your children what they learned in RE after church (that’s one reason the “What’s Happening in RE” section is in the order of service), ask about their class and classmates, teachers, worship, or anything that happened on Sunday.
- Volunteer – Families can “do good together”. Look for service projects that the family can do together at UUCWC and in the community. Relate the service project to one of the UU principles. Ask afterwards: How did you make a difference? What did you learn, how have you been changed? And perhaps What can you do beyond today to continue this work?
Thank you for your efforts in raising a Unitarian Universalist child. I am here to assist you.
Robin Pugh, Director of Lifespan Religious Education