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Why have kids?
To some, that seems like a question that doesn’t need asking. Yet, do you wonder why more parents don’t better answer this question, or at least prepare themselves better, before embarking on one of adult life’s most adventurous lifelong endeavors?
When we were courting, my wife and I studied the Baha’i teachings on marriage and family. In them we found exactly the guide we needed, and discovered a liberating joy. Though we both felt we wanted children–although the “when”, “where” and “how many” remained questions—our study helped us clarify exactly why to have children. Now that we do, the many “how to’s” of being good parents still challenge us daily.
This beautiful passage from the Baha’i Writings says so much about the purpose of marriage from that perspective:
Thus the husband and wife are brought into affinity, are united and harmonized, even as though they were one person. Through their mutual union, companionship and love great results are produced in the world, both material and spiritual. The spiritual result is the appearance of divine bounties. The material result is the children who are born in the cradle of the love of God, who are nurtured by the breast of the knowledge of God, who are brought up in the bosom of the gift of God, and who are fostered in the lap of the training of God. Such children are those of whom it was said by Christ, “Verily, they are the children of the Kingdom!” – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 605-606.
It seems from this beautiful passage that there at least two main purposes exist for marriage:
- Manifesting “divine bounties” such as true love and cooperation, and the models of love and unity that the world so desperately needs
- Raising children who manifest this key spirit and practice of unity in the world, as “Every child is potentially the light of the world–and at the same time its darkness…”
My wife and I have now have the privilege of parenting two girls and a boy. All of them have grown into their teens or young adulthood now, so we’ve started to see the interesting fruits of our many sleepless nights, and the growing results of our struggles to do our best. We feel a deep sense of fulfillment as we see them contribute to others and find their good paths in life.
Our experience showed us what a humbling honor and monumental endeavor it can be to welcome children into this earthly life; and to lovingly and carefully teach them to make the world a truly better place, both through who they become and what they do.
Parenting—likely one of life’s most important and challenging endeavors—has its tests and trails. Mothers endure discomforts and pain, and fathers share in sleeplessness and anxiety. Both parents help shepherd their children through illnesses, arguments, tragedies, heartbreaks, triumphs, and joys. In the midst of all this, parents learn and help their children to become, blossom and believe. A small child singing a prayer, her eyes closed and a smile on her face, melts away the hardest of heartaches in an instant.
Unfortunately, when you have children no one issues you a parenting manual. The only systematic guidance and support we may get as parents comes from our own parents or the teachings of our Faith. We are all imperfect “human becomings”. Yet maintaining the one greatest fruit of love in this life–a united marriage and family–ranks among the most fulfilling rewards of our existence.
We know our responsibilities of parenthood will likely lighten over the coming years. However, we also know our service to our children never truly ends. They will need our guidance and assistance as they, in turn, begin to marry and raise children of their own.
There is joy in unity as we strive to keep our family moving according to Baha’i principles and teachings. Whatever life stage you are in, you may be able to help each other and others who are on the path of or toward parenthood.