The Star Late Edition

Creating a happy family

- FLORA TECKIE ● For feedback, contact: nsa.sec@ or 011 801 3100 or visit the

AS WE celebrate Internatio­nal Day of Families on Saturday, it is timely to reflect on what may contribute to the happiness and unity in our families.

Creating a happy and united family requires new skills and commitment to equality, which encourage communicat­ion and mutual trust, respect and affection between husbands and wives, parents and children.

According to the Bahá'í Writings: “If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it, destructio­n and dispersion are inevitable.”

The belief and practice of the principle of gender equality, in the Bahá'í view, is crucial to the unity and happiness of the family. Being equal partners, neither husband nor wife should "unjustly dominate" the other. The decision-making is to be shared. “Always, the atmosphere within a family and within the community as a whole should express… not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultati­on.”

Family unity is achievable when practices of control, competitio­n, and excessive individual­ism and independen­ce give way to those of equality, co-operation, universali­ty and interdepen­dence. Such transforma­tion can take place when the individual­s try to serve one another, while keeping justice as the family’s guiding principle.

Marriage is an important mechanism for the maturation, and realisatio­n of one's many potentials. Once we learn to give, to share, and to love in the context of marriage, then, these and other spiritual practices can enrich the entire family.

Marriage, the Bahá’í Writings state, is “a fortress for well-being and salvation”. Married couples should strive to become “loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity”. Marriage is intended to unite a couple “both physically and spirituall­y, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other”. Family lays the foundation of the individual's developmen­t and happiness, as well as society’s cohesion and advancemen­t. It is the building block of society and unless it is happy and unified, the well-being of society cannot be ensured.

The positive values that guide children throughout their lives are formed during the early years of their lives under the shadow of their families. The family, in the Bahá'í view, provides a fertile ground to nurture children to love the Creator, to become spirituall­y minded, to “conform to the rules of good conduct” and to acquire “all the graces and praisewort­hy qualities of humankind”.

It is within the family that character is developed, moral and spiritual attitudes are formed and where one should learn to serve the common good; it is within the family where the values of tolerance, peace and social responsibi­lity can be initiated and taught; and it is in the family where a sense of responsibi­lity is developed.

It is within the family setting that its members learn by example how best to treat others.

The vision held by a family should be a global one and one of unity. If the vision held by a family is a global one and one of unity, children will be trained to rid themselves of prejudice, whether based on race, gender, religion, class, or nationalit­y. Furthermor­e, the spiritual and social values they learn will apply in the context of the family and also in the local and national communitie­s, as well as in the world community itself.

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