Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Review: Parenting With Spirit by Jane Bartlett

This is a lovely book, written from a non-demoninational perspective (while the author uses the term "God", she also interchanges it with "Spirit" and "sacred"). She truly has managed to write a book about sharing the sacred with children that embraces so many faiths- regardless of whether they are part of an organized religion or not. She talks of how religion as an organized force is in decline in most western countries, although more and more people are identifying loosely as "spiritual":

We live in changing times, but so far this spiritual renaissance has largely failed to nurture families. It concerns itself only with the needs of grown-ups; it's individualistic and self-orientated. You will find a wealth of personal development opportunities for adults to discover their "inner child", but few where they can be with their outer child, too!

This gentle book has great practical tips on creating rituals and traditions in your family to anchor a shared spirituality with your children. There is plenty here for people of all faiths to latch onto, including pagans and polytheists. Prayers, rituals, mealtimes, family meetings, story time, playtime, animal care and more- all can reflect a deeper understanding of the sacred to share with children.

For example, on the section for storytime, she shares that she has created a specific weekly ritual on Friday evenings called "Hot Chocolate Night". She makes hot chocolate with her kids, then they all gather around with plenty of shawls, blankets, and pillows to get snuggly. She has picked out stories in advance that she wants to read- sacred stories that teach things she values to her kids. They don't have to be from religious texts- heck, The Lorax is a sacred text to me!

She has some other tips on making plain old story time sacred time:
  • Light a large candle to mark the beginning and blow it out to mark the end of story time. 
  • Similarly, you could instead use a chime or musical instrument to do the same.
  • Use puppets
  • Create a basket of props specific to the story, pulling them out one by one in sequence
  • Don't relegate story time to a "lull the child to sleep" time. Make it a ritual each week or around seasonal holidays
I particularly enjoyed the chapter on "Creating Sacred Space In Your Home" In it, this Christian author talks about building a family altar and suggests honoring the family's beloved dead (as well as nature) there!

If you are looking for some practical tips on ritualizing your family life and creating traditions, this book is quite handy!

Formal Rating:
Title: Parenting With Spirit
Author: Jane Bartlett
Publisher: Marlow and Company
Price: $14.95 USD 
ISBN: 1-56924-405-7

Topics Covered: Parenting, Religion, Spirituality, Ritual, Prayer

Target Audience: Families seeking to add a spiritual aspect into their daily family lives.
Witch Mom Rating: Two and a Half Hats
Great primer for people starting to create family rituals and traditions and looking for some tips.
Advanced ritualists may find this too basic for their needs.


  1. Lovely, just like the one about "Mother wears Combat Boots." DO they have any advice about what kids can do when they are being bullied? You don't have to really say what 'cause of copyright rules. Just a Yes or No. Thanks.

  2. Are there things also on how a kid or family can handle grieving, disappointment, anger (justified or not), separation or divorce, or not being favored or loved by a parent/sibling/grandparent (and they don't mind showing it to the child)? Or being discriminated against?

    Sorry, Lilly, about bursting the above in the post. Not being disrespectful or sarcastic(?). Just want to know.

  3. No, neither book talks abut bullying, which tends to happen when kids enter school- My Mother Wears Combat Boots is for kids up to age 5, and Parenting With Spirit is really about creating a spiritual home life.

    Any readers out there know of any good books on the topics that FMJemena needs? I know that I have seen some amazing kids books to help kids understand grief, bullying and disappointment- but none are coming to mind right now. Let me see if I can find any to review!

    Suggestions from other readers?

  4. Thank you much...and sorry again. I know you have a sked of books to review so please don't disrupt that.


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