Someone in a parenting group on Facebook suggested I do an episode on The Spiritual Child, by Dr. Lisa Miller. My first thought was that it didn't really sound like my cup of tea but I was willing to read it and at least see what it had to say.
I was surprised by the book's thesis that spirituality can play a critical role in a child's and adolescent's development. But I was astounded that her thesis was actually backed up by scientific research.
I invited Dr. Miller to be on the show and she initially agreed - but during my preparation I found that the science supporting spirituality doesn't seem to be quite as clear-cut as the book says it is. I invited Dr. Miller again for a respectful discussion of the issues but I didn't hear back from her.
In this episode I describe the book's major claims, and assess where the science seems to support these and where it doesn't. I conclude with some practices you can use to deepen your child's spiritual connection, if you decide that this is the right approach for your family.
Note: I mainly focused on the research related to child development in this article, but as I was about to publish this episode I found an article
claiming that the science behind some of Dr. Miller's other assertions might not be so solid either. I didn't read all of those studies (because they're not directly related to child development, and it took me a lot of hours to find and read just the ones that were), but the author's conclusions very much mirror my own.
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Koenig, L.B., McGue, M., & Iacono, W.G. (2008). Stability and change in religiousness during emerging adulthood. Developmental Psychology 44(2), 532-543. DOI: 10.1037/0012-16126.96.36.1992