Sometimes, parents may wonder, “Is it really necessary to introduce my child to prayers, puja or spirituality? They are only children! When they are older, if they are interested they can learn themselves.”
As a 3 or 4 year old, all of us were exposed to the alphabet. We may not have been interested in learning the ABC’s, and would have just wanted to maybe play or watch YouTube videos. But our parents and teachers, instead of allowing us to get our way and do whatever we want, made sure that we learned to read. But say, if they let us get our own way and waste time, we ourselves will probably later ask, “Why didn’t you teach me the alphabet? Now I can’t read because you let me waste my time doing what I wanted.” So essentially, whether we like it or not, some basic knowledge and skills like reading, math, etc. needs to be incorporated into our life.
It is the same case with prayers, religion, and spirituality as well. It is absolutely necessary to introduce praying to a child at a young age. Just like the ABC’s, it will definitely help us in the long term. So that when we really need to pray, we will know how to.
When children are exposed to spirituality and religion at a young age, they retain it better, and in fact, they respect their religion more than if they were only introduced to it in their pre-teens/teens. Children, in general, have a very good memory, so it’s important for parents to take advantage of it. On top of that, it is important for the child to be aware of the fact that they have a choice of being a Hindu.
When the child is very young, we don’t tell the child to figure out on their own how to eat. We teach them to eat. In the same way, if we want the child to be exposed to spirituality at a young age, we need to teach them. We cannot expect them to learn it on their own. If the child expresses no desire to learn about prayer, etc., then empathize with them. Talk to them about the benefits that come with learning about it.
Everyone, at some point in their life, will wonder what the purpose of their life is, and will question what they are doing with their lives. This could happen at any time in our life. If we have a solid foundation or at least some exposure to spirituality, it will help us take the right path toward the real purpose of life. That’s why it’s important to be exposed to spirituality in our childhood. It could help us in 1 year. Or maybe 10 years. Maybe even in 10 lives from now. Either way, some spiritual knowledge is essential for us. Sometimes, we may not even know that it is helping us, but it is.
Madhura Sriram, 13 years, Houston TX
Based on excerpts from talks of Sri Ramanujamji, disciple of HH Maharanyam Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji