While not a parent myself, the well-being of children is a heartfelt concern of mine, increasingly so as more and more of my friends are having babies. While the Baha’i Writings offer excellent guidance on how to raise children, there is still a wide breadth of options available within it. And so, it is not uncommon that Baha’i parents end up raising their children very differently one from the other. I have friends who yell at their kids, some who don’t; some chat with their children, some don’t; some who ignore their kids’ tantrums, and others that acknowledge them; etcetera, etcetera.
In all of the abovementioned cases, the children, without exception, are intelligent, caring, sociable, and well-mannered (tantrums aside.) It might have to do with the only thing these parents seem to have in common: consistency. It is not the rules in themselves that will help the children as much as the process of obeying the rules, eventually understanding them, and some day, consulting on how to change them to suit the increasing maturity of the child.
What does that tell me? That, as friend of the family, the most important contribution that I can make to the education of these children is to never, ever contradict the parent, but rather, to always defer to their authority. Because ultimately, learning to follow rules is what will make these children grow up into youth and adults who will strive to adhere to Baha’i laws and principles.
The same, of course, goes for my friends who are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, or atheists; it also goes for parents who believe in different schools of thought when it comes to childrearing.
Image credit: Chad Mauger