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New Book: Spiritual Mothering – Toward an Ever-Advancing Civilization

August 11, 2014, in Articles > Books, by

Spiritual Mothering: Toward an Ever-Advancing Civilization is new publication compiled and edited by Rene Knight-Weiler.

The book is composed of articles that were published in a magazine called Spiritual Mothering Journal that circulated for 10 years in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Its topics are diverse – from more meditative pieces about the daily struggles and victories of motherhood to concrete step-by-step articles about sibling conflict resolution – and its contributors from around the world vary in their perspectives and writing styles (they are primarily, but not soley, Baha’i).

Rene Knight-Weiler writes, “what all these authors have in common is a love of children, a love of writing and a wealth of ability in both arenas. The wisdom they offer is not limited to one generation. It is timeless, just like parenthood itself.”1

In honour of Mother’s Day, Baha’i Blog explored the profound role of mothers as the primary educators of children. Abdu’l-Baha tells us:

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.

Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p.139

Difficulties are a means to test out, to flex and to hone our spiritual muscles but until I became a parent, I hadn’t experienced such constant and never-ending opportunities to better myself. It’s a natural instinct to seek advice when facing a challenge and thankfully, this book about being a Baha’i parent is a great place to turn to. There are thousands of books available on the market to parents covering every subject from sleep training, gourmet baby recipes, discipline to language development but parenting books from a Baha’i perspective are fewer in number. In her Baha’i Blog post from 2013 called “What I Really Want for Mother’s Day”, Chelsea Lee Smith talked about how Baha’u’llah’s redefinition of motherhood stands in stark contrast to how the wider world perceives the occupation. Spiritual Mothering helps to explore some of the nitty-gritty of applying the teachings of Baha’u’llah to the daily tasks of educating a child.

The book is divided into 16 chapters such as “Believing in Our Children”, “Life in the Community”, “Marriage and Family Dynamics”, “Accustom Them to Hardship”, “Creating a Spiritual Atmosphere at Home”, and “The Power of Speech”. There is also a chapter entitled “From and For Fathers”, which I love because while the tile of the book singles out mothers, the book’s advice can be applicable to fathers too. Some of the specific topics covered by the articles include:

  • becoming a non-critical parent,
  • praise,
  • backbiting,
  • self-esteem,
  • prayer,
  • celebrating holy days,
  • family traditions,
  • obedience,
  • reward and punishment,
  • overcoming prejudice,
  • step-parenting,
  • family secrets,
  • and foster children.

The book is richly varied because many contributors wrote it. Rene writes, “these essays are written with such honestly, openness, encouragement and willingness to share the reality of the struggle to align our family lives with Baha’u’llah’s teachings that readers cannot help but find comfort in them.”2

The down-to-earth tone of the book is such that you feel you are sitting in a living room filled with mothers who are offering their perspectives, explaining the difficulties they faced and the solutions they devised, all over warm mugs of tea and fresh baked cookies. Here is an example where Rose Motley Abbott writes about working to recognize the human dignity of her son:

 …we have been putting the principle of human dignity into action in a positive way. Since Ben turned five, we have had him participate in family consultations. Since respecting the ideas of all participants is crucial to successful consultation, it provides a natural forum for us to behave with dignity, and show respect for each other. We have dealt with various family difficulties, such as TV watching and eating habits, and Ben’s contribution is valued in these sessions. […] We, as parents, are firm about solutions which are not acceptable but we usually come up with solutions we hadn’t considered prior to consultation. In addition, each time we have learned something about Ben’s thoughts and feelings, and he has accepted decisions he surely would have fought otherwise.

Ibid. p.87

There is also a great diversity in the concreteness of the articles; some are written with specific instructions, some are a compilation of advice, quotes and musings on a subject, and some are more philosophical prose. All are brief – which makes it a very easily digestible book when you only have a few precious minutes to read before you fall asleep.

Spiritual Mothering was recently published by George Ronald and can be purchased through their website, through the U.S. Baha’i Distribution Services, or through your local Baha’i bookshop.

  1. Spiritual Mothering, p. xiii []
  2. Spiritual Mothering, p. xii []
Posted by

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.
Sonjel Vreeland

Discussion 5 Comments

Friends, we wish to note that this wonderful book is also available directly through Baha’i Distribution Service at our website. The direct link for this book is: Thank you.


BDS (August 8, 2014 at 7:52 PM)

Can someone let me know how much for the book, need to buy it, send message or just leave comment ob FB page. Thank you

Foketi Thornycroft

Foketi Thornycroft (August 8, 2014 at 8:53 PM)

Hi Foketi, the book is about US $22 and can be purchased from the website here:


Naysan (August 8, 2014 at 11:06 PM)

There has been many books, seminars, workshops and discussions on how to be a better mother. Yet we’ve learn nothing about how to be a better father.

The confusion and misunderstanding of the differences between the “Equality of Rights” and the “Equality of Functions” between men & women – particularly husbands & wives, has played a role in ignoring this subject. Sadly, it has caused women to try to play the roles of fathers and mothers to the family, which has caused them to suffer from fatigues and stress disorder, which statically, are double in numbers in women than men, while it has caused men to suffer from apathy and confusion, leading them to become oblivious to the needs of their families, which has caused increase in the number of family break ups, alcoholism, and drug abuse among the children.

Many Baha’is make the mistakes of confining and enforcing the concept of equality to the finances rather than looking at the broad aspects of functions, rights and responsibilities of the sexes according to the designs and purpose of God.

To overlook these unavoidable natural functions and the current unjust social status of genders are obviously gross injustice to women as wives and mothers, and subsequently as daughters and sisters.

The following quotations explicitly confirms that the principle of “equality of men and women”, does not elude to the “equal functions and equal responsibilities”, and that to provide financial support to the family is the husband’s “primary function and responsibility”, and that to provide education to children is the women’s “primary function and responsibilities”. It also clarifies that “it is the wife’s RIGHTs to be financially supported by her husband”, and that “the husband has no explicit right to be financially supported by his wife.”

Shoghi Effendi – “Lights of Guidance” p. 613: “From the fact that there is no equality of functions between the sexes one should not, however, infer that either sex is inherently superior or inferior to the other, or that they are unequal in their rights.”

The Universal House of Justice – “The Relationship Between Husband and Wife” – December 28th, 1980: “The members of the family all have duties and responsibilities towards one another and to the family as a whole, and these duties and responsibilities vary from member to member because of their natural relationships…..although the primary responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the husband, this does not by any means imply that the place of woman is confined to the home….A husband has no explicit right to be supported by his wife.”

The Universal House of Justice to the NSA of USA – “Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities: The basic principle of Bahá’í Law is that the husband is responsible for the support of his wife and children so long as they are married.”

The Universal House of Justice, “Compilation on Women” No. 74: “With regard to your question whether mothers should work outside the home, it is helpful to consider the matter from the perspective of the concept of a Bahá’í family. This concept is based on the principle that the man has primary responsibility for the financial support of the family, and the woman is the chief and primary educator of the children.”

The Universal House of Justice – “Lights of Guidance” p. 625-626: “You ask about the admonition that everyone must work, and want to know if this means that you, a wife and mother, must work for a livelihood as your husband does… You will see that the directive is for the friends to be engaged in an occupation which will be of benefit to mankind. Home-making is a highly honourable and responsible work of fundamental importance for mankind.”

I hope the above Writings causes our men to rise from slumber and learn to function as “men” characterized by not only our beloved Faith, but also by the bygone religions. And further, it is also my hope that by learning these quotations, causes our women too, to wake up from their slumber and stop carrying their husband’s responsibilities to avoid fatigue, stress disorder, and heart attacks, which according to the Heart & Stroke Foundation, is the number one killer of women in our society.


Bahiyyih (August 8, 2014 at 1:10 PM)

Thank you for these wonderful quotations and for sharing your thoughts.


Sonjel (August 8, 2014 at 2:12 PM)

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