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Understand Your Own Spiritual Values

Before talking about and comparing other religions, it's important that your child understand your family's religious background, and its ethical and spiritual values.


"With different theologies leading to different practices and celebrations, it's an education for kids, as long as parents can approach it with a curious and respectful attitude instead of saying, 'Our way is right and their way is wrong,'" says Wendy Mogel, a psychologist with a background in Judaism and author of 'The Blessing of a Skinned Knee'.


Don't leave it to your kids to figure out religious leanings; initiate a conversation.


"Your family's religion is part of the history of the family and is part of the fabric of the family," says Susan Bartell, Psy.D., a psychologist in New York.


"But you also need to say to your child that all religions have things about them that are great, and we celebrate that because it's part of who we are and who other people are."

Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and sometimes, to moral values.


Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature.

Many religions have organised behaviours, clergy, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural), and/or scriptures.

The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture.

However, there are examples of religions for which some or many of these aspects of structure, belief, or practices are absent.

The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures. Some religions place an emphasis on belief, while others emphasize practice. Some religions focus on the subjective experience of the religious individual, while others consider the activities of the religious community to be most important. Some religions claim to be universal, believing their laws and cosmology to be binding for everyone, while others are intended to be practiced only by a closely defined or localized group.

In many places religion has been associated with public institutions such as education, hospitals, the family, government, and political hierarchies.

Anthropologists John Monoghan and Peter Just state that, "it seems apparent that one thing religion or belief helps us do, is deal with problems of human life that are significant, persistent, and intolerable. One important way in which religious beliefs accomplish this is by providing a set of ideas about how and why the world is put together that allows people to accommodate anxieties and deal with misfortune.

Interfaith cooperation
Because religion continues to be recognized in Western thought as a universal impulse, many religious practitioners have aimed to band together in interfaith dialogue, cooperation, and religious peace building. The first major dialogue was the Parliament of the World's Religions at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, which remains notable even today both in affirming "universal values" and recognition of the diversity of practices among different cultures.

The 20th century has been especially fruitful in use of interfaith dialogue as a means of solving ethnic, political, or even religious conflict, with Christian-Jewish reconciliation representing a complete reverse in the attitudes of many Christian communities towards Jews.

Recent interfaith initiatives include "A Common Word", launched in 2007 and focused on bringing Muslim and Christian leaders together, the "C1 World Dialogue",  the "Common Ground" initiative between Islam and Buddhism, and a United Nations sponsored "World Interfaith Harmony Week".

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