What do you spend your time doing each day? What do you spend your energy thinking about, worrying about, and being entertained by? Are you living mostly according to your physical identity or more in alignment with your spiritual identity?
In this post we will read a quotation about how children are affected by the daily choices parents make, and reflect on how we can utilize the Bahá’í prayers to grow ourselves spiritually. We will consider how praying can help us maintain focus on what really matters in life… in an effort to be the best people, and parents, we can be.
[quote]What needs to be appreciated in this respect is the extent to which young minds are affected by the choices parents make for their own lives, when, no matter how unintentionally, no matter how innocently, such choices condone the passions of the world—its admiration for power, its adoration of status, its love of luxuries, its attachment to frivolous pursuits, its glorification of violence, and its obsession with self-gratification. It must be realized that the isolation and despair from which so many suffer are products of an environment ruled by an all pervasive materialism. And in this the friends must understand the ramifications of Bahá’u’lláh’s statement that “the present-day order” must “be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead.”[/quote]
(Universal House of Justice, 28 December 2010, paragraph 33)
I once heard an old traditional story that describes each person having two wolves within themselves, a good wolf and a bad wolf. The wolf that wins depends on which wolf you decide to feed. We should be continually trying to “feed the good wolf” with food of the spirit such as our daily obligatory prayer, doing deeds of service, helping our children grow, being honest, and being thoughtful (like rubbing our wife’s shoulders when she is tired… :-)). Feeding the bad wolf could be anything from watching rubbish on TV, idle talk, backbiting, shouting, being dishonest in paying your taxes, or telling a white lie to avoid getting into trouble.
As a parent we are being watched with eagle eyes every day by our children. They see the choices we make, what movies we watch, how we react to disappointment, how we solve disputes and what we do in our free time. Reminds me of that song “Cats In The Cradle” (but I digress). As a Dad I want to show my kids that although I am not perfect, I am striving for perfection and each day trying to feed the good wolf within me.
The “tool” of this week’s post is a three step plan.
First, consider the “passions of the world” mentioned in the quotation above, and reflect on what you may be condoning, whether intentionally or otherwise. A few possibilities to spur ideas are listed but are not meant to offer an exhaustive list.
Admiration for power
Trying to get the “upper hand” during conversations, looking down on those with less decision-making power
Adoration of status
Seeking status in work, being attached to titles
Love of luxuries
Purchasing more than what is necessary, worrying about “what else” there is to buy
Attachment to frivolous pursuits
Engaging in too much social media, watching more than a reasonable amount of TV
Glorification of violence
Playing violent video games, choosing movies or shows with an excessive emphasis on violence
Obsession with self-gratification
Worrying about your own needs, making choices that do not take into account the impact those decisions have on other people or the environment
Second, when you say your daily prayers, identify a specific area of growth (chosen from amongst the topics above) that you would like to work on. For example:
- I would like to be more patient with my children.
- I would like to be less attached to what material possessions I have.
- I would like to spend less mental energy on worrying about my status at work.
- I would like to be satisfied with less violent media.
- I would like to commit to purchasing products that do not waste the earth’s resources.
All of our choices, and characteristics, are what our children are watching and learning from every day. Use daily prayers to become inspired to be the best example you can be for your children.
Third, choose one practical action step you can take TODAY. This may be watching a bit less TV, not basing your self worth on your position at work, or spending more time doing service with your children. Just choose one, so you don’t get overwhelmed. Start small and add more action plans with time!
Questions for Reflection
As parents we are the first educators, and main role models, for our precious children. They are learning what is important by watching us live our daily lives. Are you spending time and mental energy on what you would like your children to spend their time and mental energy on? Are you mainly focusing on your physical identity or your spiritual identity?
What habits are your children picking up from you – both positive and negative? What might you like to do more of or change?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.enablemetogrow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/zafandchels.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]This post was written by Chelsea and Zafar, a couple living in Australia with two young children. Daddy’s Tool Box is a series of posts that share Bahá’í quotations and ideas relating to fathers, featuring a practical tool for how we can practically implement the guidance into our homes. Click here for more information and to see a list of Daddy’s Tool Box posts.[/author_info] [/author]
Have you had an experience when you realized how much your children are learning from your own habits? Please share in the comments.