The images of God as perceived by abandoned children : an exploratory study into the spiritual development of children.
Zengele, Patricia Bongi.
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This research study explores the ways in which children from diverse family backgrounds can construct or reconstruct their God representations. These were probed by using 'object relations theory' and 'matemal deprivation theory' as means of further gaining insight into children's initial formulations of interpersonal and emotional relationships and how these were translated into the way they imagined God to be for themselves, given their age-group. Parallels were drawn between the interface of psychology and theology by using theories on faith development. There is a clear acknowledgment that there are certain steps of development that individuals go through in their growth at both psychological and spiritual levels. This confirms that there is a need for these two disciplines to draw from each other as means of creating conducive climate to allow for an integrated approach towards formulations of spiritual development among children. Through the use of questionnaires the children were given the opportunity to explore images of God and to also express these in the form of a drawing. The content analysis of this study demonstrated that there were no distinct differences on how children perceived God between abandoned children being raised in an institutional setting and those children being raised by biological parents. This finding highlighted the fact that there are other factors that impact children's spiritual development. These include care, nurture and emotional security. This study contributes to future research on developing new theologies by children, thus enabling them to play a central role in formulating contextual and relevant curriculums on religious education.
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