What Can Fostering Bahá’í Identity in Children Do for Kids—and for Parents?

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

A mom. Two children. A family learning new skills. What are the take-aways? For other moms and dads, children, aunts and uncles, grandparents and friends? Here is one mother’s story.

Yalda Ravanbakhsh, who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada, took Fostering Bahá’í Identity in Children with a group of mothers living in two neighboring clusters that are close to each other. She has two preschool children (a sixteen-month-old and a three-year-old) and felt the course could not have come at a better time in her life. She explained that her three-year-old daughter “is becoming firm in her identity as a preschooler,” and she felt it was “important to put weight into consolidating her [daughter’s] Bahá’í identity . . . at this formative time.” Yalda’s learnings provided a new context for parenting and have provided her with a firm foundation on which she and her group will continue to build.

Balance. Like many parents of young children, Yalda felt time constraints, but she learned something about balance:

I have learned some valuable lessons in that, when something is important, one can find stolen moments even late at night in the last hours available to catch up and not to let the stress of not doing things as planned seep into the spirit of things. This is a valuable lesson for raising family and service to the cause.

A Personal Plan. About the “many practical tools and loads of resources,” she set herself a goal: “I plan to block an hour of each week to come back to this content to go through the extra resources, watch the videos, and reflect on my progress as a parent.”

Patience and Vision. Perhaps the most important thing Yalda took away from the course was patience: She wrote that:

Foremost, I have gained the insight to have patience for the sake of God and in His spirit through the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and the gracious example of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as gleaned through my understanding of the Bahá’í writings. This course has encouraged me to strive to approach each day with forbearance and fortitude in mind. Since taking this course, I feel so much lighter and imbued with a sense of greater purpose that sometimes gets forgotten in the grind and hustle of raising kids in the city. I feel a lightness that I haven’t felt while going through other parenting materials, but also I feel a greater responsibility because the vision is one that includes the higher station of man, which is often not addressed.

Values Aligned, Continuing Group Study, Devotionals for Two Audiences. For Yalda, the course on Fostering Bahá’í Identity in Children is not really ending. She is continuing to work on her own personal journey, her study group is continuing with new plans, and she is committed to working on two devotionals:

I feel like my values were aligned with those discussed in the course before I took it, but studying the course materials has given me such a greater sense of reference, as well as a renewed gentleness with which to approach parenting. By focusing on the true station of human beings and sharing practical examples and approaches, the course served to empower me, washing away the nagging chaos related to feelings of stress and of never being good enough or prepared enough. The course reminded me that we are on a journey and about the loftiness of the goal and how prayer and reliance on God is what we need most. I also realized that one reason I got stuck in the beginning of the course was due to some past stress that I needed to reconcile. I am grateful that the course was able to give me tools with which to grapple with such realizations and through it to obtain many gems and insights.

Now that the course has ended, the group I went through the course with plans to continue to meet together to study other books within the context of parenting. I am sure we will come back to this material. Also, I have pledged to start a women’s devotional, and I know a lot of this material will come in handy for that as well as for our family- focused neighborhood devotional.

Many thanks to Yalda for sharing her story with us. Parents or not, we can learn from them.

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Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and anyone interacting with children and youth might be interested in the six 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):

Helping Teens and Children Navigate Media and Screen Time (January 14)
Embracing a Spiritual Identity of Motherhood (February 18)
Fostering Bahá’í Identity in Children (March 25)
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)

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