Hudson Valley Parent

HVP December 2015

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10 Hudson Valley Parent ■ December 2015 By JEFF SIMMS R eligious or spiritual faith may not be for everyone, but many who do subscribe say that their belief system provides the backbone and moral compass that helps guide them as parents, and provides them with a community that they can draw strength from. It's not just those sitting in the pews who fi nd that their faith is an invaluable source of support, but those who preach from the pulpit or read aloud from the Torah also fi nd strength from it as well. Religious leaders in the Hudson Valley also fi nd that the journey to become a good parent and the journey to fi nd grace through religion are very similar. Slowing down and nding solace "We live in highly anxious times, and parenting magnifi es that expo- nentially," says Ben Larson-Wolbrink, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Beacon. Social media, iPhones and the rest of the trappings of our gad- get-centric society have made it increasingly diffi cult to truly wind down and check out, not to mention devote one's undivided attention to family. "It's a pretty isolating culture that we live in," Larson-Wolbrink says, "but for me, my faith is grounding in that it invites me away from anxiety." Larson-Wolbrink's wife Gretchen, —a Parish Associate at First Pres- byterian— agrees. "Our lives are hectic, but that doesn't mean we can't pause as a family and breathe together," she says. Both Ben and Gretchen have found that sense of solace from the spiritual community they lead. "Finding community is key," Gretch- en says. "We can't do this all on our own, so we've sought out a com- munity that will share our joys and challenges with us." The power of prayer Brent Spodek, the head rabbi at the Beacon Hebrew Alliance, empha- sizes the need for spiritual parents to take their own practice seriously. A practice rooted in faith will not only positively infl uence one's children, he says, but provide the foundation for the wisdom and values a parent imparts upon their child. Spodek, the father of one boy and one girl, ages 4 and 8, respectively, calls this work "enlarging your soul." So, how does one enlarge his soul? "That takes work. It's called a spiritual practice for a reason," he says. "Don't think of religion as a ritual you perform as a sign of loyalty to your past, but as some- thing that helps you sensitize your "I view my daughter as my newest guru." - Sean Jones Parent/Buddhist Teacher (Continued on Page 12) "We live in highly anxious times, and parenting magnifi es that exponentially, " says Pastor Ben Larson-Wolbring. With wife Gretchen and children, (top to bottom) Nathan, Lily, and Hope. Grace at Home Five local religious leaders on faith and families

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