Connecting to More than Self
Exploring Your Spirituality
Clarifying Your Values
Finding Your Purpose
Exploring Your Spirituality
You can think of spirituality as connecting to whatever you consider meaningful and holy. You can find it in God, in yourself, in other people, in nature, art or kindness. Whatever you focus on, spirituality offers many possible benefits, including better mood, less anxiety and depression-and even fewer aches and illnesses - from Take Care of Your Spirit.
Why Develop Your Spirituality?
Here are ten reasons why spiritual development is of particular value to children and youth in foster care:
- Building identity and self-esteem – Questions such as “Who am I?” and “Where do I come from?” can aid in identity development and engender a sense of self-worth.
- Supporting a sense of belonging and connection – Participating in spiritually oriented communities can be an anchor that provides a sense of belonging and connection in the midst of instability.
- Links to a history and past – Access to your spiritual heritage can help you feel connected to your history and past in meaningful ways.
- Sense of hope – A rich and active spiritual life can provide a sense of hope and orientation to the future.
- Framework for grief and loss – Tuning in to a spiritual core provides a safe and legitimized way to experience and express grief and loss.
- Sense of meaning and purpose in life – Spiritual exploration can provide guidance as you tackle challenging questions such as “Why was I born?”
- Structured opportunity to mark life passages – Participating in a spiritual community provides opportunities to mark significant life passages that may be missed in foster care.
- Cultivates capacity for self-advocacy and problem-solving – Developing a well of spiritual inner strength provides a secure foundation from which to practice using your voice to advocate on your own behalf.
- Provides opportunities for “giving back” – Participating in a community of faith provides authentic opportunities to feel useful, valued and needed by others.
- Cultivates resilience – Having a sense of purpose, hope and future help to nurture and strengthen your resilience when faced with overwhelming life circumstances.
Adapted from The Importance of Spirituality for Foster Youth by Sue Badeau, Youth Transition
Funders Group, News from the Field, January 11, 2013
Considering Your Spirituality
When considering your spirituality, ask yourself the following questions:
- What spiritual and religious heritage did you bring with you when you entered foster care?
- What kinds of spiritual or religious experiences have you had since entering foster care?
- Have you ever attended a church, synagogue, temple or other place of worship? If so, do you know where you went? Who went with you? Do you remember any one in
particular who impressed you or who shared their spiritual feelings with you or who your felt understood you? Do you remember if you felt safe and supported there? Did you participate in activities or youth groups?
- Are there any other culturally specific activities that you have participated in, such as drumming, dancing, singing, martial arts, meditation, or traditional ceremonies?
- Do you have any mementos of your spiritual journey so far – programs from a ceremony, a special song or prayer, or any spiritual practices that have been meaningful to you? Do you know the spiritual meaning of your name?
- Is there a faith tradition that you would like to explore more?
- Are there any activities you’ve done or places you been to that have brought you a sense of spiritual awe or solace, such yoga, time spent in nature, or experiencing art or music?
- Where do you turn when you are faced with moral dilemmas? Whose guidance do you seek?
- What hopes and dreams do you have? Who do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered?
Adapted from recommendations and research on spirituality and foster youth. Key resources include:
- The Importance of Spirituality for Foster Youth by Sue Badeau, Youth Transition Funders Group, News from the Field (January 11, 2013);
- Untapped Anchor: A Monograph Exploring the Role of Spirituality in the Lives of Foster Youth by DiLorenzo, Nix-Early, Wilson and Badeau (2004);
- Exploring spirituality among youth in foster care: findings from the Casey Field Office Mental Health Study by Jackson et al. in Child & Family Social Work (2010).
Know Your Rights!
You have the right to go to religious services and activities of your choice, join special groups or organizations, and participate as often as you wish. You also have the right to social contact with people outside the foster care system (including teachers, church members, mentors, and friends). You have the right to make and receive confidential telephone calls, and to send and receive unopened mail, unless a judge specifies otherwise.