Abdu’l-Baha was the eldest son of Baha’u’llah. When Abdu’l-Baha passed away on 28 November 1921, He was eulogized as One who led humanity to the “Way of Truth,” as a “pillar of peace” and the embodiment of “glory and greatness.”
Baha’is see the young as the most precious treasure a community can possess. In them are the promise and guarantee of the future. Yet, in order for this promise to be realised, children need to receive spiritual nourishment, such as can be found in the children’s classes happening all around the world.
Did you know that June 1st has been designated the International Day to celebrate YOU? Although I’d like to call it the “Global day of Validation and Appreciation for Awesome Parents”, the official title is the “UN Global Day of Parents”:
The Global Day provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents in all parts of the world for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship. 1
And before you jump into thinking, “But am I really making a selfless effort? Am I really sacrificing enough?”, can we be real for a moment?
This is no easy job. Abdu’l-Baha says:
…a father and mother endure the greatest troubles and hardships for their children… 2
It is easy to feel like you aren’t doing enough. You get conflicting advice. You may feel totally inadequate, or overwhelmed by the parenting standards found in the Writings. You are exhausted and sometimes overcome by worry. The Universal House of Justice offers us these words of encouragement and comfort:
In parenthood, as in so many fields of endeavour, we can but do our best, aware that we shall inevitably fall short of the perfect standards towards which we strive, but confident that God will support those who labor in the path of His Faith, will answer our prayers and will make good our deficiencies. 3
And while this job might very well be the MOST IMPORTANT you ever have in your whole life on this planet, it’s the most un-appreciated, under-valued position by society.
Here is my evidence:
No manuals or training
No support staff
No performance reviews
Little or no financial support
So if it feels hard, it’s because IT IS. Not because you are crazy or somehow not good enough. All parents struggle with this mighty task although we often keep quiet about it because of some false assumption we should be enjoying every little minute of it.
In fact, let’s pause for a moment and take a deep breath, and as we do, imagine all our fellow parents around the world. These are your comrades. Your co-workers. They GET you.
Stuff them all into a big, giant room and look around.
They are single parents, divorced parents, adoptive parents, married parents, foster parents, grieving parents, grand-parents, special-needs parents and step-parents.
The new child which will soon be given to you by God is, indeed, a divine blessing, of which you should feel proud… 5
A divine blessing.
And we feel it in this life, don’t we?
The snuggles and “I love you”s, the moments of surging joy in our chest as we watch them make new discoveries and the favours returned as they grow older- of which is highly encouraged! This day is an excellent opportunity to thank the people who raised you! Baha’u’llah tells us:
Should anyone give you a choice between the opportunity to render a service to Me and a service to them (your parents), choose ye to serve them, and let such service be a path leading you to Me. 6
Say, O My People! Show honour to your parents and pay homage to them. This will cause blessings to descend upon you from the clouds of the bounty of your Lord, the Exalted, the Great. 7
If though wouldst show kindness and consideration to thy parents so that they may feel generally pleased, this would also please Me, for parents must be highly respected and it is essential that they should fee contented … 8
Let’s not forget the amount of character muscle building we get to do when we parent- flex those patience bi-ceps, people! This prayer, helping and calming during a tough challenge, makes me think of how parenting is helping me to grow too:
If it be Thy pleasure, make me to grow as a tender herb in the meadows of Thy grace, that the gentle winds of Thy will may stir me up and bend me into conformity with Thy pleasure, in such wise that my movement and my stillness may be wholly directed by Thee. 9
So, the United Nations appreciates your parenting efforts. God appreciates your efforts. Your children (at some point in their lives!) appreciate your efforts.
What would YOU like to appreciate about your efforts?
What are you proud of?
What calls for a big celebration today?
Get out a pen and write out a big ol’ list. Stick it on your fridge and read it every morning. Because we all have areas of improvement, and will for the rest of our lives, but we need a big dose of self-encouragement to continue in this selfless, lifelong and sacrificial commitment.
Janna is a Marriage Coach whose passion is to help Baha’i couples create awesome relationships. She is determined to talk about the real issues in marriage so others don’t feel abnormal or alone in their struggle. Marriage is tough- we ALL need education and support to strengthen our “fortress for well-being”!