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- Abdu'l-Baha -

Dear Parents,

Think of it! If the children are our future, the most favorable for each of us is to teach them well, is it not?
To guide us in this inestimable undertaking and facilitate the reflection, here submitted, some Baha’i Writings on spiritual parenting.

Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children, young plants of the Abha Paradise, so that these children, fostered by grace in the way of salvation, growing like pearls of divine bounty in the shell of education, will one day bejewel the crown of abiding glory.

Do we yet discern the essence of the task at hand? Do we realize that the spiritual station, and the velocity the soul is destined to attain it, depends not only on the plasticity of the trained one, but highly on the competency of its trainer, the parent.

The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind and draweth down the grace and favour of the All-Merciful, for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence and alloweth man to work his way to the heights of abiding glory.

In fact, the purpose is greater than any task undertaken by our human fellows of bygone times!

The children who are trained in the world-embracing teachings of Bahá’u’lláh cannot but grow up to be a truly new race of men. He hopes these young people will prepare themselves for the great task which will face them in the future, that of helping to rebuild the world with the aid and inspiration of the Bahá’í teachings.
The infinite wisdom of God designs our lives solely for the continuous improvement of each one of us, which means the acquisition of idealistic values through the knowledge and the love of God:
That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them the oneness of God and the laws of God. For lacking this, the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds…

The parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consideration to anyone, and will do exactly as they please.
The consequence and gravity of doing so in their tender years is highlighted here so appropriately :
Children are like green and tender branches; if the early training is right they grow straight, and if it is wrong they grow crooked; and to the end of their lives they are affected by the training of their earliest years.
While achieving so, it is imperative to make our sweet children appreciate the two hands of God's presence, Justice and Mercy. Here is why :
In explaining the fear of God to children... the child should be made to understand that we don’t fear God because He is cruel, but we fear Him because He is just, and, if we do wrong and deserve to be punished, then in His justice He may see fit to punish us. We must both love God and fear Him.

Man is even as steel, the essence of which is hidden: through admonition and explanation, good counsel and education, that essence will be brought to light. If, however, he be allowed to remain in his original condition, the corrosion of lusts and appetites will effectively destroy him.

The corrosion of lusts and appetites? Oh! When our human nature overpasses the angelic one, becoming careless, only believing in the bounty of the Creator or then, following the croaking of the crows of social degeneration.

As for the following, it refers to our inborn individuality, as well as the necessary training and decision-making skills to acquire, so to bring it to light :
Know thou that all men have been created in the nature made by God, the Guardian, the Self-Subsisting. Unto each one hath been prescribed a pre-ordained measure, as decreed in God's mighty and guarded Tablets. All that which ye potentially possess can, however, be manifested only as a result of your own volition. Your own acts testify to this truth.

Let us do it? The service is most highly praised and the method, quite clearly defined :

O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God’s sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined. 

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.
In closing this review, the following will certainly help us gain the necessary courage and fortitude, as we go through the ups and downs of spiritual parenting.
Necessarily there will be some who are defective amongst men, but it is our duty to enable them by kind methods of guidance and teaching to become perfected. Some will be found who are morally sick; they should be treated in order that they may be healed. Others are immature and like children; they must be trained and educated so that they may become wise and mature. Those who are asleep must be awakened; the indifferent must become mindful and attentive. But all this must be accomplished in the spirit of kindness and love and not by strife, antagonism nor in a spirit of hostility and hatred, for this is contrary to the good pleasure of God. That which is acceptable in the sight of God is love. Love is, in reality, the first effulgence of Divinity and the greatest splendor of God.
Dear little ones, you are so truly needed. May we consistently use the suitable methods with you, so that you may progress eternally, obedient to God as you will be to your patient, dedicated and enlightened gardeners.

Be wonderfully blessed!

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