Parenting and Family

Courses aimed at building positive parenting skills and raising spiritual families

The Bahá’í teachings uphold the importance of raising children of good character and building unified families, calling mothers the first educators of the child and children the “most precious treasure a community can possess.” But what do these teachings really look like in a modern day context?

Counter to the common assumption that parenting skills emerge automatically once a couple gives birth to a child, raising service-oriented and resilient children requires a great deal of knowledge, reflection, and skill building. Families thrive when both the parents’ and the children’s growth and development are founded on spiritual teachings. The Parenting and Family courses at the Wilmette Institute aim to build capacity in the participants to make wise choices and create happy, unified homes that are of service to those involved and outward to others.

The Wilmette Institute offers spiritually-based, practical, and participatory courses for:

  • Individuals wanting to study parenting and raising children within a spiritual context
  • Individuals interested in building skills to face the challenges of modern day parents using a Bahá’í perspective
  • Parents who want to engage in practices that uplift the spiritual atmosphere in their homes
  • Members of families and institutions wanting to support parents in their role of raising the next generation of humankind
  • Groups of individuals wanting to study and discuss materials together, either in the same geographical location or over the Internet; groups may be organized with the assistance of a Local Spiritual Assembly or other entity

Course Content:
Courses include the Bahá’í Writings, parent education materials, discussion questions and Forum, learning activities, skill-building opportunities, videos, articles, the arts, mentoring by email, and more.

Course materials are in English, with Google Translate available for approximate translations.

Technical Requirements:
Internet access; devices capable of downloading and reading pdf documents, and email. Most of the readings, activities, and discussions are available on the course’s website, the Internet, or transmitted through email.

The Wilmette Institute provides discounts and scholarships as needed to groups, couples, youth, senior citizens, and pioneers. Please do not register for a course more than three months in advance, because course dates sometimes must change.



Nurturing Your Baby Spiritually During Pregnancy

FACULTY: Swathi Baskaran and Chelsea Lee Smith
Dates: 365 course available from January 1, 2019

Are you currently expecting a baby or planning to grow your family in the near future? This course invites participants to learn ways to nurture the spiritual well-being of a baby during pregnancy and in the parents as they experience this significant change. Topics include the role and preparation of mothers, fathers, and other family members for the changes ahead; the use of prayer and spiritual scripture throughout the experience; the marriage and family unit as the secure foundation for the well-being of the child; and the importance of building a spiritual and emotional support network for new parents. This course consists of 5 units and is available year-round.

Helping Teens and Children Navigate Media and Screen Time

FACULTY: Justine Finn and Chelsea Lee Smith
Dates: January 14 to February 17, 2019 (4 Units)

Do you want more tools to help your child navigate society’s intense media environment? In today’s world socializing, personal expression, and dating often occur between texts and social media, raising new challenges and opportunities for children and teens. This course is aimed at parents, caretakers, and educators of children up to 15 years old and offers a safe space to critically examine the role screen time plays in their family. It will help participants learn how to address the common media-related issues facing their children and guide them to apply Bahá’í principles to their time online.

Embracing a Spiritual Identity of Motherhood

FACULTY: Penina Hitti and Chelsea Lee Smith
Dates: February 18 to March 31, 2019 (5 units)

Come be inspired as a mother to embrace the noble role you have in raising your children while also maintaining the sacred space for nurturing your own independent spiritual identity. The course will utilize the arts as well as call upon stories of Bahá’í women in history to help participants critically analyse the social forces playing on their decision-making processes, examine the dichotomies facing mothers in modern day society, redesign the definition of what “service” is, develop a positive mindset, and create a vision for their families based on our spiritual reality.

Fostering a Bahá’í Identity in Children

FACULTY: Julie Iraninejad and Chelsea Lee Smith
Dates: March 25 to May 19, 2019 (7 units)

How can we help children place love for Bahá’u’lláh and the desire to be of service to others as the foundation of their lives? This course enables parents to explore how they can foster a child’s connection to the Bahá’í Faith through developing spiritually uplifting routines at home, enabling their children to engage in service within the home as well as in their communities, and aligning family activities with the current goals of their communities. Participants will be given positive parenting tools inspired by the Bahá’í Writings as well as hands-on strategies for implementing spiritual practices at home. Materials are suited for those with children 11 years old and under.

Conscious Parenting of Young Children

FACULTY: Swathi Baskaran and Chelsea Lee Smith
Dates: May 13 to June 23, 2019 (5 units)
We invite you to build your capacity to offer spiritual education to children five years old and under. Topics in the course include analyzing the roles and responsibilities of parents according to a Bahá’í perspective, strengthening the ability of parents to nurture spiritual qualities in young children, creating a positive relationship between parents and children even in the face of challenging behaviors, and building family unity through engaging in spiritual practices and service together. We will also learn positive parenting practices to help children develop independence and address entitlement.

Communication Skills for Spiritually Minded Parents

FACULTY: Chelsea Lee Smith and Swathi Baskaran
Dates: July 22 to September 8, 2019 (6 units)

At times, parents wish their children could listen better or be more skillful at communicating clearly. This course will give you tools to build a foundation of open and respectful communication in your home. Inspired by quotations from the Bahá’í Writings as well as stories from the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the course materials will invite participants to explore different techniques for communicating effectively, help them understand the importance of encouragement, empower them with language that fosters a learning mode, and teach them how to implement and carry out family meetings. The course is appropriate for those with children under 11 years old.

Celebrating the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb with Children

FACULTY: Swathi Baskaran and Chelsea Lee Smith
Dates: September 16 to October 20, 2019 (4 units)

This course is designed to help parents, teachers, and other adults share the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb with children so that they will understand the significance and feel the spirit of this very special Holy Day. Course materials include stories, printable activities, craft ideas, and songs. Participants will receive inspiration and practical resources to celebrate this special occasion in a fun and uplifting way with children at home and in the community.

Parenting and Family Faculty Team

The Parenting and Family Section is under the Marriage and Family Department.