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Friday, March 5, 2010

Raising Baha'is (without brattiness)...

This posting is to provide you with some of the many Baha'i writings that can apply to raising children in line with Baha'i principles.  One caveat, as an individual I can only provide my interpretation and emphasis concerning these writings.  You may take something more or less from each quote concerning raising children - so, you have been warned. :-)

One source of useful advice comes from a book titled, "Mothers, Fathers and Children" by A. Furutan.  He uses several Baha'i quotes to frame his advice and does a good job using simple language and clear logic to justify it.  For those of you not familiar with him, you can check out this link --- A. Furutan.  He begins his book with a chapter titled, "Six Educational Counsels".

To open this chapter he quotes Abdu'l-Baha, "According to the teachings of Baha'u'llah, the family being a human unit must be educated according to the rules of sanctity.  All the virtues must be taught the family."

The first is 'The Necessity of Agreement between Parents' and he quotes Baha'u'llah, "Ye were created to show love to one another and not perversity and rancor."  This provides consistency, let alone relative peace.

The second is 'The Childhood Years and the Force of Habit' and he quotes Abdu'l-Baha, "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."  This is one reason why we have started what we call a Virtues Playgroup with children ages 4-6.  It is wonderful to have children who understand (in their own way) what perseverance and unity mean in word and deed (among others).

The third is 'Parents' Words and Deeds are Children's Examples' and he quotes Baha'u'llah, "Take heed, O people, lest ye be of them that give good counsel to others but forget to follow it themselves." Children have a set of neurons (as do adults) that are highly active and remarkable.  They are called mirror neurons.  We have empathy and develop it (and other virtues) through mirroring other's actions.  Being respectful of a child's emotion by listening and encouraging them to verbalize, as opposed to ignoring and teaching them that tantrums are the best way to get attention, can be quite helpful at times.  This doesn't mean have a lengthy argument or engage in a discussion for all things, but adults tend to write off a child's emotion and miss an opportunity to teach the child that the emotion is reasonable and teach them how to utilize that emotion for the better.

The fourth is 'Self-Control' and he quotes Abdu'l-Baha, "The individual must be educated to such a high degree that he...would think it easier to be slashed with a sword or pierced with a spear than to utter calumny or be carried away by wrath." How many times as adults have we said something that we regret or, worse yet, don't recognize that we should regret it because it causes division and pain?  This counsel is strongly linked to the third one mentioned above.  In the end, of course, the virtue of forgiveness is our saving grace when self-control fails.

The fifth is 'Keeping Promises Made to Children' and he quotes Baha'u'llah, "Trustworthiness is the greatest portal leading unto the tranquility and security of the people. In truth the stability of every affair hath depended and doth depend upon it." What a lesson to be learned at such a young age and such rewards to be gained when applied as adults.

The sixth is 'The Effects of Deceit on Children' and he quotes Abdu'l-Baha, "Truthfulness is the foundation of all virtues of the world of humanity. Without truthfulness, progress and success in all the worlds of God are impossible for a soul. When this holy attribute is established in man, all the divine qualities will also become realized." He relates a story where a mother took a son to a movie, while leaving the daughter at home. In order to not upset the daughter, the mother tells her falsely that she's taking the son to the dentist and hides the fact of taking him to the movies. Once returned home, the daughter pretends to be asleep in her room and the mother tells the father of the trip to the movies with her son. The daughter is, to say the least, disappointed.

With this brief overview, I hope that you can take away some new ideas (or at least quotes).  The rest of the book is quite good and I recommend that you take a look.  Looking forward to your thoughts.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Thanks! My wife and I have been discussing these issues alot lately. Our daughter is approaching 2 years old, and well I am sure you know where Im going with this. Shes great most of the time, but has been showing the first glimmerings of ego... hahaha. This blog is a real find! Keep at it please!