Episode 33: Review Family Spiritual Beliefs

Good morning everyone, and welcome to NF Learning Lab, where together, we access our innate, iNtuitive wisdom as unique, self-valuing, and deeply Feeling women … and share who we are becoming in a safe, sensitive community.

In recent weeks, we have been exploring the ten areas of life that we work with in NF Learning Lab, and we’ve been using, as our discovery lens, the life area of ‘family of origin’. This week, we focus our family-of-origin lens on the life area of ‘spirituality’.

When it comes to spirituality and family of origin, it is interesting to note, that family therapists often have their patients complete something they call a ‘spiritual genogram’.

Used specifically to identify spiritual and religious issues, the spiritual genogram allows therapists to approach an aspect of family life that is, otherwise, rarely addressed in therapy. The spiritual genogram enables clients to gain a new perspective on ways in which their religious/spiritual heritage continues to affect their current beliefs and practices.

The spiritual and religious beliefs of a family of origin are strong influences on an individual’s attitudes, morals, values, and beliefs. So, identifying the family’s beliefs is very important when an iNtuitive-Feeling type woman chooses to become more and more self-valuing and self-directed, in other words, when she decides to take charge of her belief system. So, it is important to ask, “Do the beliefs I learned in childhood still fit for me? If not, what has changed? How, and why?”

When a family has strong spiritual and religious beliefs, that family is impacted by events occurring in the religious life of family members. These include rites like baptisms, first communions, confirmations, bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, and other rituals and rites of passage. Also, when family members are highly involved in their religious congregations, significant events in the religious community can impact the family. Such events could include building projects; death of a well-loved priest; a congregational relocation; sexual misconduct of a clergy member; the closing of a church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious center; a change in the racial, ethnic, or class composition in a congregation; or other important events.

Some of these events might be the catalyst for a self-defining iNtuitive-Feeling woman to move away from the religion of her family of origin. In effect, they can even be the entryway to choosing a completely different life, one that is very different from the life lived in the family religion.

Here is a sampling of the kinds of questions therapy patients are asked when creating a spiritual genogram:

  • When you were growing up, what role, if any, did religion and/or spirituality play in your life?
  • What role does it play now?
  • What specific religious/spiritual beliefs do you consider most important for you now?
  • How are those beliefs a source of connection or conflict between you and other family members?
  • What religious/spiritual rituals did you participate in as a child or adolescent? How important were they in your family of origin? Which ones do you still engage in? Which ones have you let go?
  • What new rituals have you adopted as an adult?
  • How do these rituals connect to your religious/spiritual belief system?
  • What did/does your religious/spiritual tradition say about gender? About ethnicity? About sexual orientation?
  • How have these beliefs affected you and your extended family?

Let’s move on to our breakout discussions to learn more.

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