Few things are more profound than when an infant looks deep into your eyes, or touches your cheek, as though he feels what you're feeling. Or a young child asks a question that you, in all of your wisdom and maturity, cannot begin to fathom the answer. "Why are we here?" "Who is God?" "Why do people suffer?" Oprah believes that children's capacities for empathy and their constant questioning amount to something much deeper than just childlike love and curiosity. To explore this phenomenon, Oprah talks to Dr. Tobin Hart, author of The Secret Spiritual World of Children.
Oprah believes we are more than just our bodies. "There is so much more to life than that which we can perceive with our fives senses," she says. "Innocent children, it turns out, may have a far better grasp of what lives beyond our limited perceptions than we ever might have imagined."
Dr. Hart agrees with Oprah, but laments the fact that developmental psychology and theology has missed this over the last 100 years. "We've recognized them as immature adults, somehow not complete yet," Dr. Hart says. "And as we've grown together, we've recognized that they're already old souls. They're already folks who come in with a lot of lesson and a lot of capacity."
It used to be that parents would write off the phenomenon of "imaginary friends" or visions of angels as silly childish behavior. But, what if these experiences and visions are something much richer? What if these are manifestations of children's secret spiritual lives? And what if, as parents, we fostered this way of thinking, rather than dismissing it?
Published on March 08, 2007