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One of my life coaching clients asked “what Bahá’í Writings and principles can we use to put limits on violence? (ie how can we encourage enterprise, adventure, loyalty, courage, challenge and team-work without accepting violence in toys, TV and behaviour?

The topic of violence is near and dear to my heart. When my son was young, it was a lot easier: I simply didn’t allow violent toys into the house. On invitations to birthday parties, I always wrote: “Violence-free toys would be appreciated”, and I never had anyone go against this request.

I didn’t have time to monitor the TV or money for the better cable stations, so TV was simply not used, except for the occasional movie (though I did have the entire collection of M*A*S*H, which I used to teach him to be anti-war!)

Fortunately, he wasn’t interested in competitive sports (nor were they encouraged). Instead we cultivated an interest in karate, swimming, skiing, biking, hiking snow-boarding and skateboarding.

When friends came over and were interested in violent activities, I would simply say, “this is a violence-free house”. I seldom had to repeat it twice, and was always astonished that the children understood what this meant and were able to adjust their behaviour accordingly.

When my son was a pre-teen, he was constantly exposed to violent computer games and music. Fortunately we didn’t have much money, so weren’t able to buy these things. When they crept into the house, though, we’d talk about them. Sometimes he disagreed with my definitions of what is violent, and he often didn’t understand why I reacted so strongly to it. Because we consulted, we both felt heard and when I really couldn’t stand another song with violence or sex, he was OK with turning the radio off. I learned that I can’t ban everything; I had to learn moderation and tolerance.

My favorite line was: “it’s not my law, it’s the law of God”, or “what would ‘Abdul-Bahá think?” or “you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it”.

We used to read personal accounts of people’s experiences with the Central Figures of the Bahá’í Faith and it helped us to understand the context in which decisions were made. When he could see the human side of the Central Figures, he had role models to look up to.

How do you set limits on violence and sex in your home? Post your comments here: