The Star Late Edition
Creating a happy family
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.