A Baha’i View
To Bahá'ís, a happy family life is extremely important. It helps to
produce happy, healthy individuals and it is the basis of a healthy
Bahá'í family life is based upon Bahá'í marriage. Both are based on a spiritual attitude and values.
"The true marriage of Bahá'ís is this, that husband and wife
should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever
improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting
unity throughout all the worlds of God."
The first purpose of marriage is this spiritual companionship. The
second purpose is the rearing of children in the spiritual and loving
atmosphere of this kind of marriage.
Bahá'í parents seek to do everything they can to bring up their
children in the love of God, to be of good character and to acquire
knowledge which is useful, so that they can become healthy, happy and
useful members of society. The raising of children is a very important
and difficult task and a great responsibility. They will need to devote
considerable time to the children's upbringing and some other
activities will probably need to be sacrificed.
"... know ye in God's sight, the best of all ways to worship Him
is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of
Due to the laws of nature, the mother generally has had a particular
responsibility for the rearing of the children in the early part of
their lives, during which time the father has financial responsibility
for his family, but there is no reason why roles cannot be reversed or
responsibilities shared. It is up to the couple to arrange their lives
as they think best. The important thing is that the children receive
the love and attention they need to develop happily in mind, body and
Bahá'í parents must ensure that their children learn about all the
religions of the world. Rather than being indoctrinated with their
parents' beliefs, the children are taught to investigate truth for
Children are also taught to recognise the value of the male and female
factors in the balance of life. This needs to be illustrated in the
relationship of the parents to one another.
Children are encouraged to associate with people of all races and
religions and learn to appreciate the different cultures and the
contributions different people have to make. They should learn to
respect the ideas of others and to have open minds.
The children are taught to regard themselves as citizens of the world.
Above all parents try to show their children what is right and how to behave by the example of their own lives.
"A real son is such a one as hath branched from the spiritual part of man."
Rights and Duties
Each member of the family has certain rights which must be respected
by the other members of the family, and each has certain duties to the
"The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered
and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed. The
rights of the son, the father, the mother, none of them must be
transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary."
Just as: "...it is the duty of parents to perfectly and thoroughly train their children", so it is the duty of children to respect their parents:
"Say, O My people! Show honour to your parents...Beware lest ye
commit that which would sadden the hearts of your fathers and mothers."
As they grow older, children should begin to appreciate the time and
trouble which has been spent on them. One way in which they can repay
that love and care is by remembering their parents in their prayers:
"It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents."
Saying prayers together as a family each day will help to build and
maintain the unity of the family on a spiritual basis.
When a problem does occur or a decision needs to be made, members of
the family should pray about it, individually and together, so that a
solution may be found.
The members of the family should also consult together in order to
solve their problems or make their decisions. This includes young
children who should be taught from an early age the value of
"Family consultation, employing full and frank discussion, and
animated by awareness of the need for moderation and balance, can be
the panacea for domestic conflict."
Where a whole family are Bahá'ís they will share a common aim and
set of values and it should be easier to maintain unity in the home.
But where there are differences of religion this should not be allowed
to cause disunity in the family.
If we look carefully at the scriptures of each religion, we will
find that the essence of their teachings is the same. The followers of
each religion wish to serve God and humanity, so really they should
have a common aim.
"The religion of God is for love and unity; make it not the cause of enmity and dissension."
For instance, if one member of a family is a Bahá'í and others are
not, this may cause problems. If a parent is a Bahá'í, he or she should
remember: "service to the Cause should not produce neglect of the
And if a son or daughter is a Bahá'í and the parents are not, this is the advice:
"Should anyone give you a choice between the opportunity to
render a service to Me and a service to them, choose ye to serve them,
and let such service be a path leading you to Me."
Bahá'ís believe that everyone has the right to their own beliefs.
They also have the right to practise their religion, but not to the
extent that it causes disunity and unhappiness to others. Some
sacrifices may have to be made, even if only temporarily:
"It is one of the essential teachings of the Faith that unity should be maintained in the home."
The Effect of A Happy Home
"If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will become illumined and spiritual..."
"Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the
affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that
family make, how they prosper in the world, their concerns are in
order, they enjoy comfort and tranquillity, they are secure, their
position is assured, they come to be envied by all."
"Consider the harmful effect of discord and dissension in a
family; then reflect upon the favours and blessings which descend upon
the family when unity exists among its various members. What
incalculable benefits and blessings would descend upon the great human
family if unity and brotherhood were established!"
Published by, and copyright of, the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Warwick.
Approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom,
27 Rutland Gate, London, SW7 1PD.
All quotations are from the Bahá'í writings.