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What to do When You’ve had a Fight In Front of the Kids

In this video, Janna gives you 4 steps you can take to bring you from fight to resolution.  Have a listen and post your comments below.

Janna Denton-Howes is a Marriage Coach whose passion is to help couples get unstuck and move powerfully towards the vision of true Baha’i marriage.  If you liked this video, you can visit her site; read her blog and watch her other videos.

Newsletter on Parenting

Welcome to the Month of Will 172!

In this issue – Parenting

Adventures in Parenting (a series of videos)

Avoiding Parental Alienation

Baha’i Education of Children 

Breastfeeding and the Bahá’í Faith  

Fathers, Sons and Solace 

Having a Baby will Fix Everything 

How do Baha’is Discipline Children?  

My Will vs God’s Will in Getting Pregnant 

Prayer and Parenting  

Relinquishing Parental Authority

Should Baha’i Mothers Stay at Home?  

The Responsibility of Parenthood  

The Role of Fathers in a Baha’i Family  

The Role of Parents in Training us to be Obedient  

Why Fathers Abandon their Posts 

Featured Story:

A Story from Shoghi Effendi’s Childhood

He also tells us the story of Shoghi Effendi’s first Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Dr. Bagdadi states that when Shoghi Effendi was only five years old he was pestering the Master to write something for him, whereupon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote this touching and revealing letter in His own hand:

He is God! O My Shoghi, I have no time to talk, leave me alone! You said “write”—I have written. What else should be done? Now is not the time for you to read and write, it is the time for jumping about and chanting “O my God!”, therefore memorize the prayers of the Blessed Beauty and chant them that I may hear them, because there is no time for anything else.

It seems that when this wonderful gift reached the child he set himself to memorize a number of Bahá’u’lláh’s prayers and would chant them so loudly that the entire neighbourhood could hear his voice; when his parents and other members of the Master’s family remonstrated with him, Shoghi Effendi replied, according to Dr. Bagdadi, “The Master wrote to me to chant that He may hear me! I am doing my best!” and he kept on chanting at the top of his voice for many hours every day. Finally his parents begged the Master to stop him, but He told them to let Shoghi Effendi alone.  (Ruhiyyih Rabbani, The Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, p. 4-5)

Featured Prayer:

Prayer for Youth

O Thou kind Lord! Grant that this youth may attain unto that which is the highest aspiration of the holy ones. Endow him with the wings of Thy strengthening grace—wings of detachment and divine aid—that he may soar thereby into the atmosphere of Thy tender mercy, be able to partake of Thy celestial bestowals, may become a sign of divine guidance and a standard of the Concourse on high. Thou art the Potent, the Powerful, the Seeing, the Hearing.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Fire and Light, p. 20-21)

Featured Video:

Colby and Awu

This month I’d like to feature Colby and Awu, an incredibly unique musical duo. Colby is an American rapper and lyricist based out of Phoenix, Arizona with a passion for peace and social justice. Awu is a vocalist and guitar player from Cameroon whose love for music is second to none.

Their music is a blend of pop and hip-hop, mixed in with some African roots. They always provide a message that is socially and spiritually conscious. Their purpose for creating music is to uplift humanity and inspire action for positive change.

Their debut album, “Change the World“ was released in 2013.  In the summer of 2014, Awu released his hit song and music video, “If a Can, Can“, which was a theme song for the FIFA World Cup. The song went viral, and has amassed nearly 100,000 total views and plays online from countries all over the world. In early 2015, Colby released two tracks, titled “Education Is Not A Crime” and “Oh Yaran (7 Years)“, that highlight the social injustice faced by the members of the Baha’i Faith in the country of Iran.

Although I hope you’ll listen to the songs mentioned above, we’ll focus on their title track “Change the World”, because isn’t that what parents want to do when raising their children?  These youth are great examples to future generations of what can be done!

To get your free download of this incredible song  

If you like it, please share widely – once it reaches 10,000 views, they’ll release their next official music video for their new song “Paradigm.”

To visit their homepage  

To read their story  

To buy their album  

To buy their music on CD Baby 

To buy their music on iTunes  

To watch their videos 

To follow them on Facebook  

To find them on ReverbNation  

 

Featured Book:

 

Spiritual Mothering, Toward an Ever-Advancing Civilization by Rene Knight-Weiler is a collection of essays written by parents around the world on themes vital to every parent and parent-to-be, including:

·         The Noble Job of Parenthood

·         Love and Nurturing

·         Believing in Our Children

·         Becoming a Non Critical Parent

·         Creating a Spiritual Atmosphere in the Home

·         Developing Spiritual Capacities

·         Why God Loves Daddies

Written by individuals with their uniquely personal thoughts, experiences and interactions, with the spiritual guidance provided by the Bahá’í writings, all the essays provide a channel for sharing wisdom and understanding.

The essays are written with such honesty, openness, encouragement and willingness to share the reality of the struggle to align our family lives with Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings that readers cannot help but find comfort in them.

For more information

To buy this book in print  

On kindle  

Featured Coach:

Douglas Waldruff

Douglas L. Waldruff, PhD, is a psychotherapist with over 26 years of experience providing individual, couple and family therapy to help people of all ages deal with the complex stresses of modern life.

He received his Masters and Doctorate degrees in Child Development and Family Relations and has worked with clients with virtually every psychiatric diagnosis.  He provides progressive and alternative coaching to individuals, couples and families in a comfortable and supportive atmosphere.

He assists people to deal with all of life’s normal developmental concerns like work and work related issues, intimate relationships, having children, parenting issues and growing older.

His support includes:

  • Sexual and Relationship Problems
  • Addiction & Recovery
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Health and Wellness Coaching
  • Personal Growth and Empowerment
  • Performance Enhancement
  • Stress Management
  • Trauma and Recovery
  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
  • Ericksonian Hypnotherapy
  • Energy Psychology
  • Reiki
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks and Phobia
  • Medical and Health concerns
  • Grief and Loss
  • Work and Career issues

To visit his home page  

To read reviews about him 

To find him on Linkedin

Featured Business:

 

  One Planet International School

One Planet International School is located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Founded in 2006, it offers education to children from lower kindergarten (age 3-4  through to grade ten. Grades 11 and 12 will be added in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

The school offers a holistic approach to education which focuses on both academic excellence and character development. They accomplish this by unraveling the unique potential hidden in every child, and by gently nurturing and encouraging each child along his or her own path of cognitive, physical, social-emotional and character development.

Accredited by the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, One Planet is an international community school which uses a U.S. based curriculum and research-based teaching methods.  Instruction is primarily in English, and students learn through discovery and exploration led by their own curiosity.   They are often presented with a problem or a scenario which causes them to discover the answer through reflection, consultation, problem solving and investigation. All students are evaluated using the standards of learning and are not ranked against one another.

Volunteers are needed to help with teacher training, curriculum development, learning disabilities and other special needs.

To visit their homepage  

 

Our Readers Write:

Thank you dear Susan.  All this Monthly mail is great thank you!!!!!  (Bahieh Khorsandnia de Abodiyat)

Thank you!  (Sabry Elias Hussein)

Thanks to all who write in!  Your encouragement really keeps me going!  

By the way, I accept donations!  If you like the materials in these newsletters and on my website, please consider making a donation. Your help and feedback is GREATLY appreciated, to defray the costs of making these available to you!!!  There’s a PayPal “Donate” Button at the bottom of every page on my website. Thank you!!!
 

 See you next month!  Hope it’s a month filled with God’s Will! 

The Responsibilities of Parenthood

 

Changing the way we parent children is one of the distinguishing features of the Bahá’í Faith; and another way we work towards peace.  But just what are the expectations of parents?  Let’s have a look at what the Bahá’í Writings have to tell us!

Pre-Natal

A mother’s attitude, prayers, what she eats and her physical condition have a great influence on the child when it is still in womb:

The great importance attached to the mother’s role derives from the fact that she is the first educator of the child. Her attitude, her prayers, even what she eats and her physical condition have a great influence on the child when it is still in womb.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)

Even before they are born, God gave us eyes to watch over them, and hearts to love them:

Thus, ere thou didst issue from thy mother’s womb, I destined for thee . . . eyes to watch over thee, and hearts to love thee.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 29)

Financial Security

The primary responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the husband:

Similarly, although the primary responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the husband, this does not by any means imply that the place of woman is confined to the home.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

These functions are not inflexibly fixed and can be changed and adjusted to suit particular family situations:

With regard to your question whether mothers should work outside the home, it is helpful to consider the matter from the perspective of the concept of a Bahá’í family. This concept is based on the principle that the man has primary responsibility for the financial support of the family, and the woman is the chief and primary educator of the children. This by no means implies that these functions are inflexibly fixed and cannot be changed and adjusted to suit particular family situations, nor does it mean that the place of the woman is confined to the home. Rather, while primary responsibility is assigned, it is anticipated that fathers would play a significant role in the education of the children and women could also be breadwinners. As you rightly indicated, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged women to ‘participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world’.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)

Stay at Home Mothers

It would seem preferable that children should receive their first training at home at the hand of their mother, rather than be sent to a nursery:

With reference to the question of the training of children; given the emphasis placed by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the necessity for the parents to train their children while still in their tender age, it would seem preferable that they should receive their first training at home at the hand of their mother, rather than be sent to a nursery. Should circumstances, however, compel a Bahá’í mother to adopt the latter course, there can be no objection.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 149-150)

The task of bringing up a Bahá’í child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá’í writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother:

The task of bringing up a Bahá’í child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá’í writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which the child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 148)

This is a high and exalted position, and we are not allowed to slacken in our responsibility:

It is incumbent upon to train the children from their earliest babyhood!… It is incumbent upon you to attend to them under all aspects and circumstances, inasmuch as God-glorified and exalted is He!-hath ordained mothers to be the primary trainers of children and infants. This is a great and important affair and a high and exalted position, and it is not allowable to slacken therein at all!”  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 606)

The time for pursuing a career is in the future, where there is no area or instance where they will lag behind; they have equal rights with men, and will enter into all branches of the administration of society:

In the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, women are advancing side by side with men. There is no area or instance where they will lag behind: they have equal rights with men, and will enter, in the future, into all branches of the administration of society. Such will be their elevation that, in every area of endeavor, they will occupy the highest levels in the human world.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

For more information, please see:  Should Bahá’í Mothers Stay at Home? 

Breast-Feeding

God destined “two founts of gleaming milk” for us:

Thus, ere thou didst issue from thy mother’s womb, I destined for thee two founts of gleaming milk . . .  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 29)

Babies have been endowed by God with the milk which is the first food designed for it:

When the child is born, it is she who has been endowed by God with the milk which is the first food designed for it, and it is intended that, if possible, she should be with the baby to train and nurture it in its earliest days and months. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)

Blessed is the mother who suckles the child:

Blessed is the mother who bore thee and the breast whose milk suckled thee and the bosom wherein thou  wert nurtured . . . Then thank thy Lord, the Merciful, the Clement, for this great salvation and exceeding grace!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 114-115)

Here is a prayer we can say when our babies are nursing:

O Thou peerless Lord! Let this suckling babe be nursed from the breast of Thy loving-kindness, guard it within the cradle of Thy safety and protection and grant that it be reared in the arms of Thy tender affection.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 33)

Role Model

Young minds are affected by the choices parents make, particularly by condoning the passions of the world:

What needs to be appreciated in this respect is the extent to which young minds are affected by the choices parents make for their own lives, when, no matter how unintentionally, no matter how innocently, such choices condone the passions of the world—its admiration for power, its adoration of status, its love of luxuries, its attachment to frivolous pursuits, its glorification of violence, and its obsession with self-gratification. (Universal House of Justice, to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, 28 Dec. 2010)

Health

If a child is not properly cared for in the beginning of life, so that he develops a sound body and his constitution flourishes, his body will remain feeble, and whatever is done afterward will take little effect:

Unless the child, in his earliest years, be carefully tended, whether in a material or a spiritual sense, whether as to his physical health or his education, it will prove extremely difficult to effect later on. For example, if a child is not properly cared for in the beginning of life, so that he doth not develop a sound body and his constitution doth not flourish as it ought, his body will remain feeble, and whatever is done afterward will take little effect.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 293)

Protecting the health of the child is essential, because sound health leads to insights, sense perceptions and the development of powers:

This matter of protecting the health of the child is essential, for sound health leadeth to insights and sense perceptions, and then the child, as he learneth sciences, arts, skills, and the civilities of life, will duly develop his powers.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 293)

Physical Affection

Parents are expected to hug their children:

Embrace twice thy children.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 359)

Consultation and Decision Making

One of the keys to the strengthening of unity is loving consultation:

The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context of the Bahá’í ideal of family life. Bahá’u’lláh came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it, and one of the keys to the strengthening of unity is loving consultation. The atmosphere within a Bahá’í family as within the community as a whole should express “the keynote of the Cause of God” which, the beloved Guardian has stated, “is not dictatorial authority, but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation.       (The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

There are times when a wife should defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife, but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other:

In any group, however loving the consultation, there are nevertheless points on which, from time to time, agreement cannot be reached. In a Spiritual Assembly this dilemma is resolved by a majority vote. There can, however, be no majority where only two parties are involved, as in the case of a husband and wife. There are, therefore, times when a wife should defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife, but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other. In short, the relationship between husband and wife should be as held forth in the prayer revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá which is often read at Bahá’í weddings: “Verily, they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time.”  (The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

Children should be given the privilege and opportunity to participate in the decisions about what services their parents are able to offer:

It is suggested that the children should be made to feel that they are given the privilege and opportunity of participating in the decisions as to the services their parents are able to offer, thus making their own conscious decision to accept those services with consequence for their own lives. Indeed, the children can be led to realize that it is the earnest wish of their parents to undertake such services with their children’s whole-hearted support.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 231-232)

Equality 

Specific areas of the relationship between men and women should be considered in the light of the general principle of equality between the sexes:

The House of Justice suggests that all statements in the Holy Writings concerning specific areas of the relationship between men and women should be considered in the light of the general principle of equality between the sexes that has been authoritatively and repeatedly enunciated in the Sacred Texts. In one of His Tablets ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asserts: “In this divine age the bounties of God have encompassed the world of women. Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced. Distinctions have been utterly removed.” That men and women differ from one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable fact of nature; the important thing is that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá regards such inequalities as remain as being “negligible.”  (The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

 Unity

Bahá’u’lláh came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family:

The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context of the Bahá’í ideal of family life. Bahá’u’lláh came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

Where unity exists in a family, there is progress; prosperity; their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquility, they are secure, their position is assured, and they come to be envied by all:

Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquility, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 278)

Education

Education and training of children are recorded in the Book of God as obligatory and not voluntary, for both the father and mother:

In this New Cycle, education and training are recorded in the Book of God as obligatory and not voluntary. That is, it is enjoined upon the father and mother, as a duty, to strive with all effort to train the daughter and the son, to nurse them from the breast of knowledge and to rear them in the bosom of sciences and arts. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 398-399)

Mothers are supposed to make the child’s education as their first importance:

Let the mothers consider that whatever concerneth the education of children is of the first importance. Let them put forth every effort in this regard, for when the bough is green and tender it will grow in whatever way ye train it.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 289-290)

This responsibility for the education of children is so weighty that failure to exercise it is an unpardonable sin, for which parents will be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord:

Should they neglect this matter, they shall be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord. This is a sin unpardonable.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 398-399)

They could even lose the rights of parenthood:

This responsibility is so weighty that Bahá’u’lláh has stated that a father who fails to exercise it forfeits his rights of fatherhood.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

For more information on this topic please see:  Baha’i Education of Children  

Spiritual Training

Children, right from the beginning, must receive spiritual training directly from their mothers:

Thou didst ask as to the education of children. Those children who, sheltered by the Blessed Tree, have set foot upon the world, those who are cradled in the Faith and are nurtured at the breast of grace—such must from the beginning receive spiritual training directly from their mothers. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 280-282)

Parents are in a critical position to shape the spiritual development of their children:

Independent of the level of their education, parents are in a critical position to shape the spiritual development of their children. They should not ever underestimate their capacity to mold their children’s moral character. For they exercise indispensable influence through the home environment they consciously create by their love of God, their striving to adhere to His laws, their spirit of service to His Cause, their lack of fanaticism, and their freedom from the corrosive effects of backbiting. (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 157, 2000, p. 9)

Obedience

Children must be taught to fear God:

That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them the oneness of God and the Laws of God. For lacking this, the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that trans­gress all bounds. (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Education, p. 6)

Training children to obey their parents is a precursor to teaching them to obey God:

Parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consider­ation to anyone, and will do exactly as they please.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Education, p. 6)

Parents have the responsibility to conduct themselves in such a way as to elicit the spontaneous obedience of children:

Every parent who is a believer in the Blessed Beauty has the responsibility to conduct herself or himself in such a way as to elicit the spontaneous obedience to parents to which the Teachings attach so high a value.   (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 157, 2000, p. 9)

For more information, please see The Role of Parents in Training us to be Obedient  

Protection

True parenthood and parental mercy requires us to most carefully watch over and protect our children:

Children must be most carefully watched over, protected and trained; in such consisteth true parenthood and parental mercy.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 263)

Children have a right to be surrounded by a loving and caring community, protected from the misbehavior of others:

They have a right to be protected from the misbehavior of others. Children and youth should be enabled to initiate intervention for their own protection and should feel that they are surrounded by a loving and caring Bahá’í community. (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 138.)

Children should learn that it is important for them to tell any responsible older person when someone has done something that feels wrong or frightens them; and that this is not tattling, backbiting or gossiping:

As part of the education of children and youth, they should learn that it is important for them to tell any responsible older person when someone has done something that feels wrong or frightens them, that such telling is not tattling, backbiting or gossiping. (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 138)

If the mother of a child becomes aware that she is going to die, she will entrust her infant to the care of a reliable person, to look after and protect him until he is able to stand on his own feet:

One may observe that if the mother of a child becomes aware that she is going to die, she will entrust her infant to the care of a trustworthy nurse or other reliable person, to look after and protect him until he becomes older and able to stand on his own feet and become self-supporting. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, p. 381)

 Discipline and Punishment

Discipline of some sort, whether physical, moral or intellectual, is indispensable, and no training can be said to be complete and fruitful without it:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá could have never meant that a child should be left to himself, entirely free. In fact Bahá’í education, just like any other system of education is based on the assumption that there are certain natural deficiencies in every child, no matter how gifted, which his educators, whether his parents, school masters, or his spiritual guides and preceptors should endeavour to remedy. Discipline of some sort, whether physical, moral or intellectual, is indeed indispensable, and no training can be said to be complete and fruitful if it disregards this element.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 152)

It is not permissible to strike a child, or vilify him:

It is not, however, permissible to strike a child, or vilify him, for the child’s character will be totally perverted if he be subjected to blows or verbal abuse.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 289-290)

Instead, whenever a mother sees that her child has done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart:

Whensoever a mother seeth that her child hath done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 289-290)

Physical discipline of children is an acceptable part of their education and training when it is carried out ‘gently and patiently’ and with “loving care”, far removed from the anger and violence with which children are beaten and abused in some parts of the world:

While the physical discipline of children is an acceptable part of their education and training, such actions are to be carried out ‘gently and patiently’ and with “loving care”, far removed from the anger and violence with which children are beaten and abused in some parts of the world. To treat children in such an abhorrent manner is a denial of their human rights, and a betrayal of the trust which the weak should have in the strong in a Bahá’í community.  (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 4 August, 1996)

For more information see How Do Bahá’ís Discipline Children?

Children’s Classes

In addition to the efforts made at home, the parents should support Bahá’í children’s classes:

Of course, in addition to the efforts made at home, the parents should support Bahá’í children’s classes provided by the community. It must be borne in mind, too, that children live in a world that informs them of harsh realities through direct experience with the horrors already described or through the unavoidable outpourings of the mass media. Many of them are thereby forced to mature prematurely, and among these are those who look for standards and discipline by which to guide their lives. Against this gloomy backdrop of a decadent society, Bahá’í children should shine as the emblems of a better future.  (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 157, 2000, p. 9)

Let all the lesson be entirely devoted to the acquisitions of human perfections:

The subjects to be taught in children’s schools are many, and for lack of time We can touch on only a few: First and most important is training in behavior and  good character; the rectification of qualities; arousing the desire to become accomplished and acquire perfections, and to cleave unto the religion of God and stand firm in His Laws: to accord total obedience to every just government, to show forth loyalty and trustworthiness to the ruler of the time, to be well wishers of mankind, to be kind to all.  And further, as well as in the ideals of character, instruction in such arts and sciences as are benefit, and in foreign tongues. Also, the repeating of prayers for the well-being of ruler and ruled; and the avoidance of materialistic works that are current among those who see only natural causation, and tales of love, and books that arouse the passions.  To sum up, let all the lesson be entirely devoted to the acquisitions of human perfections.  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Lights of Guidance, p. 147)

Attendance at Bahá’í Gatherings 

Parents are responsible for their children and should make them behave when they attend Bahá’í meetings:

In any case, the House of Justice Points out that parents are responsible for their children and should make them behave when they attend Bahá’í meetings.   (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 151)

If children create a disturbance they should be taken out of the meeting, as an aspect of the training in courtesy, consideration for others, reverence, and obedience to their parents:

If children persist in creating a disturbance they should be taken out of the meeting. This is not merely necessary to ensure the properly dignified conduct of Bahá’í meeting but is an aspect of the training of children in courtesy, consideration for others, reverence, and obedience to their parents.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 151)

One of the parents may have to miss part of the meeting in order to care for the child:

The House of Justice has instructed us to say that children should be trained to understand the spiritual significance of the gatherings of the followers of the Blessed Beauty, and to appreciate the honour and bounty of being able to take part in them, whatever their outward form may be. It is realized that some Bahá’í observances are lengthy and it is difficult for very small children to remain quiet for so long. In such cases one or other of the parents may have to miss part of the meeting in order to care for the child.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 151)

The Spiritual Assembly can help the parents by providing for a children’s observance, in a separate room:

The Spiritual Assembly can also perhaps help the parents by providing for a children’s observance, suited to their capacities, in a separate room during part of the community’s observance.   (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 151)

Children should be trained to understand the spiritual significance of the gatherings and appreciate the honour and bounty of being able to take part in them:

Children should be trained to understand the spiritual significance of the gatherings of the followers of the Blessed Beauty, and to appreciate the honour and bounty of being able to take part in them, whatever their outward form may be.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 150)

Attendance at the whole of the adult celebration is a sign of growing maturity and a distinction to be earned by good behaviour:

Attendance at the whole of the adult celebration thus becomes a sign of growing maturity and a distinction to be earned by good behavior.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 151)

Reasons for This Kind of Parenting

With this kind of training, we’d have been safe from all tests:

If such be their training, they will remain safe from every test.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 274-275)

Without this kind of childhood, our bodies are feeble and we don’t flourish:

For example, if a child is not properly cared for in the beginning of life, so that he doth not develop a sound body and his constitution doth not flourish as it ought, his body will remain feeble, and whatever is done afterward will take little effect. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 293)

Without this kind of childhood, we become afflicted with innumerable defects:

Truly, if a babe did not live at all it were better than to let it grow ignorant, for that innocent babe, in later life, would become afflicted with innumerable defects, responsible to and questioned by God, reproached and rejected by the people. What a sin this would be and what an omission!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 398-399)

Without this kind of childhood, we’d be better off dead:

. . . they have made that poor babe a wanderer in the Sahara of ignorance, unfortunate and tormented; to remain during a lifetime a captive of ignorance and pride, negligent and without discernment. Verily, if that babe depart from this world at the age of infancy, it is sweeter and better. In this sense, death is better than life; deprivation than salvation; non-existence lovelier than existence; the grave better than the palace; and the narrow, dingy tomb better than the spacious, regal home; for in the sight of mankind that child is abased and degraded and in the sight of God weak and defective. In gatherings it is ashamed and humiliated and in the arena of examination subdued and defeated by young and old. What a mistake is this! What an everlasting humiliation!

Have I missed anything?  Post your comments below:

Should Bahá’í Mothers Stay at Home?

 

Should Baha’i mothers stay at home?

Here’s a question I hear a lot!  Let’s look at what the Bahá’í Writings have to teach us!

The idea of mothers not working outside the home makes sense when we consider the principle that the man has primary responsibility for the financial support of the family, and the woman is the chief and primary educator of the children:

With regard to your question whether mothers should work outside the home, it is helpful to consider the matter from the perspective of the concept of a Bahá’í family. This concept is based on the principle that the man has primary responsibility for the financial support of the family, and the woman is the chief and primary educator of the children. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)

This doesn’t mean that these functions are inflexibly fixed and cannot be changed and adjusted to suit particular family situations, nor does it mean that the place of the woman is confined to the home:

This by no means implies that these functions are inflexibly fixed and cannot be changed and adjusted to suit particular family situations, nor does it mean that the place of the woman is confined to the home. Rather, while primary responsibility is assigned, it is anticipated that fathers would play a significant role in the education of the children and women could also be breadwinners. As you rightly indicated, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encouraged women to ‘participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world’.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)

The amount of time a mother may spend in working outside the home depends on circumstances existing within the home, which may vary from time to time:

In relation to your specific queries, the decision concerning the amount of time a mother may spend in working outside the home depends on circumstances existing within the home, which may vary from time to time.  (Universal House of Justice, Compilation on Women)

Family consultation will help to provide the answers:

Family consultation will help to provide the answers.  (Universal House of Justice, Compilation on Women)

In general, though, the task of bringing up a Bahá’í child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá’í writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother:

The task of bringing up a Bahá’í child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá’í writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which the child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 148)

The primary responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the husband:

Similarly, although the primary responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the husband, this does not by any means imply that the place of woman is confined to the home.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

The mother is the first educator of the child:

The mother is the first educator of the child, and the most important formative influence in his development.   (The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

This makes sense because the infant’s primary orientation is to its mother:

That the first teacher of the child is the mother should not be startling, for the primary orientation of the infant is to its mother.  (Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 383)

Mothers need to be closely associated with children during their formative years:

The mother is usually closely associated with the baby during this intensely formative time when it is growing and developing faster than it ever will again during the whole of its life. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)

It would seem preferable that children should receive their first training at home at the hand of their mother, rather than be sent to a nursery:

With reference to the question of the training of children; given the emphasis placed by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the necessity for the parents to train their children while still in their tender age, it would seem preferable that they should receive their first training at home at the hand of their mother, rather than be sent to a nursery. Should circumstances, however, compel a Bahá’í mother to adopt the latter course, there can be no objection.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 149-150)

Spiritual training given directly from the mothers is the beginning of the process and the essential basis of all the rest:

Thou didst ask as to the education of children. Those children who, sheltered by the Blessed Tree, have set foot upon the world, those who are cradled in the Faith and are nurtured at the breast of grace — such must from the beginning receive spiritual training directly from their mothers. That is, the mother must continually call God to mind and make mention of Him, and tell of His greatness, and instill the fear of Him in the child, and rear the child gently, in the way of tenderness, and in extreme cleanliness. Thus from the very beginning of life every child will be refreshed by the gentle wafting of the love of God and will tremble with joy at the sweet scent of heavenly guidance. In this lieth the beginning of the process; it is the essential basis of all the rest.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 280-282)

This is a high and exalted position, and we are not allowed to slacken in our responsibility:

It is incumbent upon to train the children from their earliest babyhood!… It is incumbent upon you to attend to them under all aspects and circumstances, inasmuch as God-glorified and exalted is He!-hath ordained mothers to be the primary trainers of children and infants. This is a great and important affair and a high and exalted position, and it is not allowable to slacken therein at all!”  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 606)

Whatever children learn in that early stage of development will become part of their nature and leave its traces upon their whole life:

He is very glad to know that you attach importance to the training of the children, for whatever they learn in that early stage of their development will leave its traces upon their whole life. It becomes part of their nature.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 150)

If a mother fails to train her children, and start them on a proper way of life, the training which they receive later on will not take its full effect:

 So long as the mother faileth to train her children, and start them on a proper way of life, the training which they receive later on will not take its full effect. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 138)

A firm foundation must be laid in early childhood, because it is extremely difficult to teach the individual and refine his character once puberty is passed:

It is extremely difficult to teach the individual and refine his character once puberty is passed. By then, as experience hath shown, even if every effort be exerted to modify some tendency of his, it all availeth nothing. He may, perhaps improve somewhat today; but let a few days pass and he forgetteth, and turneth backward to his habitual condition and accustomed ways. Therefore it is in early childhood that a firm foundation must be laid. While the branch is green and tender it can easily be made straight.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Bahá’í Education, pp. 24-25)

If the baby is trained right, it will grow right, and if crooked, the growth unto the end of its life will also be crooked:

The first trainer of the child is the mother. The babe, like unto a green and tender branch, will grow according to the way it is trained. If the training be right, it will grow right, and if crooked, the growth likewise, and unto the end of life it will conduct itself accordingly.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 399)

We must attach great importance to this matter, and carry it forward with enthusiasm and zeal:

The beloved of God must attach great importance to this matter, and carry it forward with enthusiasm and zeal.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Bahá’í Education, pp. 24-25)

The time for pursuing a career is in the future, where there is no area or instance where they will lag behind; they have equal rights with men, and will enter into all branches of the administration of society:

In the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, women are advancing side by side with men. There is no area or instance where they will lag behind: they have equal rights with men, and will enter, in the future, into all branches of the administration of society. Such will be their elevation that, in every area of endeavor, they will occupy the highest levels in the human world.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

It is often difficult to do things because they are so very different from what we are used to, but Bahá’í children who see these things practiced in the home, will see it as natural and necessary:

It is often difficult for us to do things because they are so very different from what we are used to, not because the thing itself is particularly difficult. With you, and indeed most Bahá’ís, who are now, as adults, accepting this glorious Faith, no doubt some of the ordinances, like fasting and daily prayer, are hard to understand and obey at first. But we must always think that these things are given to all men for a thousand years to come. For Bahá’í children who see these things practiced in the home, they will be as natural and necessary a thing as going to church on Sunday was to the more pious generation of Christians. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights Of Guidance, p. 343)

It is in this context of mutual and complementary duties and responsibilities that one should read the Tablet in which `Abdu’l-Bahá gives the following exhortation:

O Handmaids of the Self- Sustaining Lord! Exert your efforts so that you may attain the honour and privilege ordained for women. Undoubtedly the greatest glory of women is servitude at His Threshold and submissiveness at His door; it is the possession of a vigilant heart, and praise of the incomparable God; it is heartfelt love towards other handmaids and spotless chastity; it is obedience to and consideration for their husbands and the education and care of their children; and it is tranquility, and dignity, perseverance in the remembrance of the Lord, and the utmost enkindlement and attraction.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 225)

How has this helped advance your understanding on this topic?  What would you add to it?  Post your comments below!

The Role of Parents in Training us to be Obedient

 

The Bahá’í Writings teach us that as children, we are to learn to obey our parents, so that as adults, we will know how to obey God.  In this sense, our parent’s role in our lives when we are small children is that of “god”.

Parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Education, p. 6)

Unfortunately, most of them didn’t do a very good job representing God to us, and as a result, we have a hard time translating our allegiance to a loving God as adults.

As children, we were supposed to have parents whose job it was to pray for us and look after us even when we were still in the womb:

The great importance attached to the mother’s role derives from the fact that she is the first educator of the child. Her attitude, her prayers, even what she eats and her physical condition have a great influence on the child when it is still in womb.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)

Our mothers were supposed to breastfeed us, and train and nurture us in the earliest days and months of our lives:

Thus, ere thou didst issue from thy mother’s womb, I destined for thee two founts of gleaming milk . . .  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 29)

O Thou peerless Lord! Let this suckling babe be nursed from the breast of Thy loving-kindness, guard it within the cradle of Thy safety and protection and grant that it be reared in the arms of Thy tender affection.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 33)

When the child is born, it is she who has been endowed by God with the milk which is the first food designed for it, and it is intended that, if possible, she should be with the baby to train and nurture it in its earliest days and months. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)

Our parents were supposed to love us and protect us from the time we were born:

Thus, ere thou didst issue from thy mother’s womb, I destined for thee . . . eyes to watch over thee, and hearts to love thee.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 29)

Children must be most carefully watched over, protected and trained; in such consisteth true parenthood and parental mercy.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 263)

They were supposed to show us physical affection:

Embrace twice thy children.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 359)

They were supposed to educate us:

Although the mother is the first educator of the child, and the most important formative influence in his development, the father also has the responsibility of educating his children, and this responsibility is so weighty that Bahá’u’lláh has stated that a father who fails to exercise it forfeits his rights of fatherhood.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

And provide us with financial security:

Similarly, although the primary responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the husband, this does not by any means imply that the place of woman is confined to the home.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1980 Dec 28, The Relationship Between Husband and Wife)

And look after our health:

This matter of protecting the health of the child is essential, for sound health leadeth to insights and sense perceptions, and then the child, as he learneth sciences, arts, skills, and the civilities of life, will duly develop his powers.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 293)

Our mothers were supposed to be closely associated with us during our formative years:

The mother is usually closely associated with the baby during this intensely formative time when it is growing and developing faster than it ever will again during the whole of its life. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)

Our mothers were supposed to put our education as their first importance:

Let the mothers consider that whatever concerneth the education of children is of the first importance. Let them put forth every effort in this regard, for when the bough is green and tender it will grow in whatever way ye train it.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 289-290)

Our mothers were supposed to provide us with spiritual training:

Thou didst ask as to the education of children. Those children who, sheltered by the Blessed Tree, have set foot upon the world, those who are cradled in the Faith and are nurtured at the breast of grace—such must from the beginning receive spiritual training directly from their mothers. That is, the mother must continually call God to mind and make mention of Him, and tell of His greatness, and instill the fear of Him in the child, and rear the child gently, in the way of tenderness, and in extreme cleanliness. Thus from the very beginning of life every child will be refreshed by the gentle wafting of the love of God and will tremble with joy at the sweet scent of heavenly guidance. In this lieth the beginning of the process; it is the essential basis of all the rest.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 280-282)

Our mothers were supposed to establish within us faith and certitude; the love for and fear of God, and all good qualities and traits:

Therefore is it incumbent upon the mothers to rear their little ones even as a gardener tendeth his young plants. Let them strive by day and by night to establish within their children faith and certitude, the fear of God, the love of the Beloved of the worlds, and all good qualities and traits. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 289-290)

Our mothers were supposed to praise us and cheer our hearts; and correct our behaviour with reason and counsel rather than through physical or verbal abuse:

Whensoever a mother seeth that her child hath done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart; and if the slightest undesirable trait should manifest itself, let her counsel the child and punish him, and use means based on reason, even a slight verbal chastisement should this be necessary. It is not, however, permissible to strike a child, or vilify him, for the child’s character will be totally perverted if he be subjected to blows or verbal abuse.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 289-290)

Our fathers were supposed to love, pray for, care for, educate and provide for us:

This does not mean that the father does not also love, pray for, and care for his baby, but as he has the primary responsibility of providing for the family, his time to be with his child is usually limited.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)

As we grow older, our fathers were supposed to take on a more active role:

As the child grows older and more independent, the relative nature of its relationship with its mother and father modifies and the father can play a greater role.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 626)

Our parents and teachers were meant to praise and encourage us:

They must be encouraged and when any one of them shows good advancement, for the further development they must be praised and encouraged therein.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Education, p. 73)

We were meant to participate in decisions and accept consequences:

It is suggested that the children should be made to feel that they are given the privilege and opportunity of participating in the decisions as to the services their parents are able to offer, thus making their own conscious decision to accept those services with consequence for their own lives. Indeed, the children can be led to realize that it is the earnest wish of their parents to undertake such services with their children’s whole-hearted support.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 231-232)

Our homes were meant to be places of unity:

Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquility, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 278)

We were meant to be taught that it was OK to tell adults when something wasn’t right or frightened us:

As part of the education of children and youth, they should learn that it is important for them to tell any responsible older person when someone has done something that feels wrong or frightens them, that such telling is not tattling, backbiting or gossiping. (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 138.)

We had a right to be surrounded by a loving and caring community, protected from the misbehavior of others:

They have a right to be protected from the misbehavior of others. Children and youth should be enabled to initiate intervention for their own protection and should feel that they are surrounded by a loving and caring Bahá’í community. (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 138.)

With this kind of training, we’d have been safe from all tests:

If such be their training, they will remain safe from every test.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 274-275)

Without this kind of childhood, our bodies are feeble and we don’t flourish:

For example, if a child is not properly cared for in the beginning of life, so that he doth not develop a sound body and his constitution doth not flourish as it ought, his body will remain feeble, and whatever is done afterward will take little effect. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 293)

Without this kind of childhood, we become afflicted with innumerable defects:

Truly, if a babe did not live at all it were better than to let it grow ignorant, for that innocent babe, in later life, would become afflicted with innumerable defects, responsible to and questioned by God, reproached and rejected by the people. What a sin this would be and what an omission!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 398-399)

Without this kind of childhood, we’d be better off dead:

. . . they have made that poor babe a wanderer in the Sahara of ignorance, unfortunate and tormented; to remain during a lifetime a captive of ignorance and pride, negligent and without discernment. Verily, if that babe depart from this world at the age of infancy, it is sweeter and better. In this sense, death is better than life; deprivation than salvation; non-existence lovelier than existence; the grave better than the palace; and the narrow, dingy tomb better than the spacious, regal home; for in the sight of mankind that child is abased and degraded and in the sight of God weak and defective. In gatherings it is ashamed and humiliated and in the arena of examination subdued and defeated by young and old. What a mistake is this! What an everlasting humiliation!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 398-399)

When our parents fail in their duty, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says it is an unpardonable sin, for which they will be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of a stern Lord!

Should they neglect this matter, they shall be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord. This is a sin unpardonable.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 398-399)

I’m not blaming our parents!  This kind of poor parenting is pretty universal!  Our parents didn’t know how to parent us because their parents didn’t know how to parent them, and so on, and so on, back through the generations.

Because many of us didn’t have these kinds of “loving parents”, we have no concept of how to turn to or trust in a “Heavenly Father”, let alone want to obey Him!  Fortunately the Baha’i Writings can teach us what we need to know in order to obey God.

What are your thoughts?  Post your comments here: