Family Life


Extracts from Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi

It is surely a very unfortunate case when the parents and children differ on some grave issues of life such as marriage, but the best way is not to flout each other’s opinion nor to discuss it in a charged atmosphere but rather try to settle it in an amicable way.

Bahá’u’lláh definitely says that the consent of the parents should be obtained before the marriage is sanctioned and that undoubtedly has great wisdom. It will at least detain young people from marrying without considering the subject thoroughly. It is in conformity with this teaching of the Cause that Shoghi Effendi cabled that the consent of your parents should be obtained.

(From a letter dated 29 May 1929 to two believers) [57]

The Guardian was also made very happy to know that you have been blessed with a child whose presence, he feels certain, will contribute to the greater well-being and happiness of you both, and to the further enrichment of your Bahá’í family life. He will pray that under your loving care and guidance this dear child may grow in body, as well as in spirit, and receive such a training as will enable him, later on, to whole-heartedly embrace and serve the Cause. This is indeed your most sacred obligation as Bahá’í parents, and upon the manner and degree of its fulfilment will assuredly depend the success and happiness of your family life.

(From a letter dated 21 July 1938 to an individual believer) [58]

As regards your savings: the Guardian would advise you to act with moderation, and while he would certainly approve of your desire to contribute generously to the Cause, he would urge you at the same time to take into consideration your duties and responsibilities towards your parents, who, as you state, are in need of your financial assistance.

(From a letter dated 10 November 1939 to an individual believer) [59]

The task of bringing up a Bahá’í child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá’í writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which a child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development, and it should therefore be the paramount concern of your wife … to endeavour from now imparting to her new-born son such spiritual training as would enable him later on to fully assume and adequately discharge all the responsibilities and duties of Bahá’í life.

(From a letter dated 16 November 1939 to an individual believer) [60]

With reference to the question of the training of children:6 given the emphasis placed by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the necessity for the parents to train their children while still in their tender age, it would seem preferable that they should receive their first training at home at the hand of their mother, rather than be sent to a nursery. Should circumstances, however, compel a Bahá’í mother to adopt the latter course there can be no objection.

(From a letter dated 13 November 1940 to an individual believer) [61]

The question of the training and education of children in case one of the parents is a non-Bahá’í is one which solely concerns the parents themselves, who should decide about it the way they find best and most conducive to the maintenance of the unity of their family, and to the future welfare of their children. Once the child comes of age, however, he should be given full freedom to choose his religion, irrespective of the wishes and desires of his parents.

(From a letter dated 14 December 1940 to a National Spiritual Assembly) [62]

Deep as are family ties, we must always remember that the spiritual ties are far deeper; they are everlasting and survive death, whereas physical ties, unless supported by spiritual bonds, are confined to this life. You should do all in your power, through prayer and example, to open the eyes of your family to the Bahá’í Faith, but do not grieve too much over their actions. Turn to your Bahá’í brothers and sisters who are living with you in the light of the Kingdom.

Indeed the believers have not yet fully learned to draw on each other’s love for strength and consolation in time of need. The Cause of God is endowed with tremendous powers, and the reason the believers do not gain more from it is because they have not learned to fully draw on these mighty forces of love and strength and harmony generated by the Faith.

(From a letter dated 8 May 1942 to an individual believer) [63]

Regarding the Guardian’s statement that pioneering is conditioned upon the consent of parents and that it would be necessary for them to concur, you have asked whether this ruling applies equally to children who are of age and those who are not. The Guardian’s reply is that the ruling applies only to those who have not yet come of age.

(From a letter translated from the Persian dated 18 January 1943 to a National Spiritual Assembly) [64]

Bahá’u’lláh has clearly stated the consent of all living parents is required for a Bahá’í marriage. This applies whether the parents are Bahá’ís or non-Bahá’ís, divorced for years or not. This great law He has laid down to strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of children for those who have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator. We Bahá’ís must realize that in present-day society the exact opposite process is taking place: young people care less and less for their parents’ wishes, divorce is considered a natural right, and obtained on the flimsiest and most unwarrantable and shabby pretexts. People separated from each other, especially if one of them has had full custody of the children, are only too willing to belittle the importance of the partner in marriage also responsible as a parent for bringing those children into this world. The Bahá’ís must, through rigid adherence to the Bahá’í laws and teachings, combat these corrosive forces which are so rapidly destroying home life and the beauty of family relationships, and tearing down the moral structure of society.

(From a letter dated 25 October 1947 to a National Spiritual Assembly) [65]

Up to the age of fifteen years, children are under the direction of their parents. At the age of fifteen, they may declare their Faith as a conviction, and be registered as Bahá’í youth, whether the parents are Bahá’ís or not. Children under the age of fifteen, of Bahá’í parents, who wish to attend meetings and associate with the friends as Bahá’ís may do so. If non-Bahá’í parents permit a child of less than fifteen to attend Bahá’í meetings, and in fact, to be a Bahá’í, this is likewise permissible.

(From a letter dated 23 July 1954 to a National Spiritual Assembly) [66]

If the condition of the health of your parents is such that your presence is really needed, then you should not leave them. If, however, there is some other relative who could care for them, then you could help with the work in … and aid the friends in establishing the Faith on a solid foundation there.

(From a letter dated 28 October 1955 to an individual believer) [67]

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