Fostering a Bahá’í Identity in Children: Like Climbing Mount Olympus Every Single Day

Fostering a Bahá’í Identity in Children
Faculty: Julie Iraninejad, Chelsea Lee Smith

Mariam Strieth is a German “with a Greek heart and a global spirit, a mother, a wife, a business woman” and the daughter of the first Bahá’í pioneers to Thessaloniki, Greece. A textile agent, she is juggling “a very busy schedule at home and in the office.” The course Fostering a Bahá’í Identity in Children, she said, came “just in time” because she “was concerned that these rhythms we have at the moment, might take us all out of track, since we are struggling as parents to prioritize with what really matters in life.” She shared a photograph of her family in front of Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece (where Zeus supposedly lives) and ended her introduction by observing: “I feel building a strong Bahá’í identity in you kids, living in our crazy chaotic times, is like climbing Mount Olympus every single day.” How does a Mom manage? Mariam’s solutions are fascinating.—THE EDITORS

Morning Prayers in the Car: A Tool for Climbing the Mountain. Thinking outside the box, Mariam came up with a solution for including morning prayers in the hectic rush to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get her twelve-year-old son and ten-year-old daughter to school on and her to her place of business.

It’s amazing how some times, by trying to do things “the right way,” we missed out on so many blessings. I saw that you can also be flexible and still get things done. For example: I always felt bad that we don’t say any prayers during the week in the mornings. Everyone is stressed and trying to quickly get ready and being under time pressure, where I never thought of alternative ways of incorporating the Word of God into our stressful mornings. Now we play music of chanting prayers until we get ready for school and work. The atmosphere in our home has changed for the better. We read quotations in the car driving to school and also have a short question-and-answer time after each quote. We are loving it. Often we even have time to get into meaningful conversations. It’s great how we managed that. This came from the course. Thank you for that.

Imagining the Future: Another Tool. Mariam also took another insight from the course: “That vision of imagining my kids visiting us when they are going to be twenty-five years old has not left my mind for a second. It helps me refocus through the difficult everyday moments of their upbringing and remembering the bigger picture of where we are headed.”

The Strieth family in front of Mount Olympus, Greece

Questions: Yet Another Tool for Scaling Mount Olympus. Kids ask a lot of questions, But in the course Mariam found a way to turn the questions around and address them to the children and, in the process, diffuse and decrease frustration:

Questions are more often used instead of orders toward the kids. Like the other day, when my son got ready for school, wearing a summer T-Shirt, with really cold weather outside. I wanted to scream and say, “Are you crazy? It’s cold outside! Go and get your jacket!” Instead, I asked, “Don’t you think it’s a bit too cold outside for a T-Shirt?” Consultation happens more often and more naturally since I started the course.

A Gigantic Thank You. At the end of the course, Mariam had profuse thanks to a friend who encouraged her to take the course and to the Wilmette Institute, which offered the course.

I have to say thank you to my friend Shirin, who tagged me on this course. I was scared at first because I was afraid I would not make it, time-wise. But it really came in a great time in my life and somehow, even though our life is so busy, and I often feel my husband and I are on autopilot, this course made me reconnect with many, many aspects of our Bahá’í goals and dreams, and it was exactly what I needed. . . . I have taken a few courses (not Bahá’í courses), and the value for money was great! So much information, so many YouTubes! Just to give you an example, I recently bought a course from Deepak Chopra “Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul” on Dailyom.com. The timing was quite close to my signing up for Fostering a Bahá’í Identity in Children, and I have to say that there is NO comparison AT ALL. The benefits from this course are far and away better than the benefits from other courses. From the bottom of my heart: THANK YOU!

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Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and anyone interacting with children and youth might be interested in the five courses on parenting that the Wilmette Institute is offering in 2019 (the dates following the course titles are the dates on which the courses begin) For details about the courses, see the Wilmette Institute’s Catalog:

Embracing a Spiritual Identity of Motherhood (February 18)
Fostering a Bahá’í Identity in Children (March 25) (yes, this a repeat of the course)
Conscious Parenting of Young Children (May 13)
Communications Skills for Spiritually Minded Parents (July 22)
Sharing the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb with Children (September 16)