January 05, 2013

spiritual discipline ~ for parents as well as children

as a mother of 3 children, ages 9-14, i am continually in a process of applying the principles of spiritual education to the never-ending circumstances which challenge them as young souls.  my husband and i have woven a language of virtues into our daily way of life, using these spiritual powers as the foundation of development upon which they must draw from in order to resolve the conflicts and disturbances that arise within their hearts each day.

despite our tireless efforts focused upon this aim, it is a journey of learning, of trial and error, and of continual consultation between us as parents as we work to resolve difficult situations that challenge us.  as a mother, i oftentimes fail to respond to a difficult situation with wisdom, patience, forgiveness or understanding, because i have not developed those qualities well enough within me from childhood to be equipped for the challenge at hand.  instead i may be frustrated, angry, overwhelmed or even hurt.  it is precisely in these moments, however, that i know i am to exercise my own spiritual discipline and grow in these qualities.  i retreat and become silent; i pray and reflect; i consult with my husband and then approach the situation again.  sometimes i need to apologize to our children.  most of the time i am able to speak to them with spiritual perception and convey the moral or virtue by which they are to live their lives.

as Baha'i parents, there is a vast reservoir of Writings to draw from to assist, inspire and guide us as to how to raise our children -- including insight as to how to handle unruly behavior:
"The child when born is far from being perfect. It is not only helpless, but actually is imperfect, and even is naturally inclined towards evil. He should be trained, his natural inclinations harmonized, adjusted and controlled, and if necessary suppressed or regulated, so as to insure his healthy physical and moral development. Bahá'í parents cannot simply adopt an attitude of non resistance towards their children, particularly those who are unruly and violent by nature. It is not even sufficient that they should pray on their behalf. Rather they should endeavour to inculcate, gently and patiently, into their youthful minds such principles of moral conduct and initiate them into the principles and teachings of the Cause with such tactful and loving care as would enable them to become 'true sons of God' and develop into loyal and intelligent citizens of His Kingdom. This is the high purpose which Bahá'u'lláh Himself has clearly defined as the chief goal of every education."
Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 152

the first duty for me as a parent is to strengthen my spirit through prayer and daily striving to overcome my weaknesses of character.  the more i can demonstrate the virtues -- such as forbearance, understanding, patience and compassion -- the better i will be able to handle the difficult moments of parenting.  this requires spiritual discipline on my part:  to always be consciously practicing the careful use of speech and attitude toward my children when they are misbehaving.  it requires me to work steadfastly at overcoming my natural tendencies which are of the lower nature, the part of us which is selfish instead of spiritual..

with gentleness and patience, with tact and loving care, i am then to endeavor to 'inculcate' into our children's minds the spiritual principle by which they may be enabled to lift themselves up to their true station and purpose as a child of God.  this is the crux of the work at hand -- to embody such qualities of the spirit as a parent to be able to help our children grow into their fullest spiritual potential, rather than succumb to being ruled by their inclination toward evil.

this is an ongoing, never-ending process.  this is the life of spiritual growth.  raising children to be spiritual human beings requires self-discipline, conscious awareness and tireless effort toward implementing and applying the virtues of God in everyday situations, most importantly when the moments are most challenging..
"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. 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. 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."

~ Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 152

No comments:

Post a Comment