“The Spiritual Child” by Lisa Miller

The Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong ThrivingThe Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving by Lisa Miller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In this book, Miller seeks to discuss the spirituality of a child and how children are built for spirituality. Examining the science behind spirituality, Miller looks at spirituality as a form of an awakening, taking a postmodern approach to the spiritual world as a whole. Miller associates depression in youth with a lack of spirituality and seeks to rectify the problem with the concept of spiritual parenting. Miller is a clinical psychologist and director of clinical psychology at Columbia University.

To understand the text better, one must be aware of Miller’s definition of spirituality. Spirituality is not a Christian concept or religious one in any regard, and instead is relegated to “singing prayers” or kids talking to their animals. Miller argues that spirituality is a basic truth in children but generally dismissed and ignored in American culture. In fact, Miller points out that spirituality is a separate entity entirely from religion, and her approach with spirituality is the feel good hodgepodge of “do what you want” if it’s right for you…which, of course, is absolute fodder.

Does spirituality exist? Of course, but only in the context of a spiritual world, which by its very definition necessitates a form of religion. As a theologian that has advanced degrees on these subjects (psychology being one of them), I can attest that Miller’s approach is mishandled at best, associating spirituality without an anchor that gives it any weight or benefit. Miller’s attempt is appreciated, but unfortunately absent of the core feature that matters. Instead, her pantheistic approach gives powers to spirituality that simply aren’t there, and associates healing with praying good thoughts. But where do the prayers go?

Books like these are dangerous – they promise great possibility with little purchase or investment, and that’s the problem. Spirituality does not function outside of religion, and prayer only works if the recipient is listening and real. Praying without direction is like driving without a destination – you may be putting in the effort but you’ll never get where you need to be if you don’t actually commit. Two stars is being generous with this title.

Disclosure: I have received a reviewer copy and/or payment in exchange for an honest review of the product mentioned in this post.

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