Harmony of Science and Religion in 10 Best Parenting Skills

By Keyvan Geula

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #102
Bosch Baha'i School: Santa Cruz, California, USA
May 18–22, 2011
(see list of papers from #102)

    This presentation will consider two sources to find out "What Makes a Good Parent": The Baha'i Faith's approach to parenting and some scientific findings regarding this most important educational issue.

    A recent article in Scientific American Mind claims that, decades of research reveals a set of 10 essential parenting skills. This information is the result of a new study done on 2,000 parents to determine which skills are most important for bringing up healthy, happy and successful children. Showing love and affection tops the list. Then comes managing stress and establishing good relationship between the parents , that to the surprise of the researchers, are shown more helpful than some child-focused behaviors.

    The research has compared three sources: What experts advise, what really seems to work, and what parents actually do. Among the top 10 criteria, contrary to Baha'i perspective, religion was listed as number 9 under parents supporting spiritual or religious development of children and participating in spiritual or religious activities of their child! The list includes:
    1. Love & Affection: Expressing love and affection towards one's child. Praising the child regularly. Being generally supportive and accepting of the child. Listening actively when the child speaks. Spending quality one-on-one time with the child.
    2. Stress Management: Reducing sources of stress for oneself and for the child. Practicing relaxation techniques. Positively interpreting life's events. Prioritizing and planning appropriately. Teaching stress-management skills to the child.
    3. Relationship Skills: Maintaining a positive relationship with the spouse/partner. Coordinating parenting techniques with the other parent. Planning quality family time. Couple spending some time away from the child. Settling arguments out of the child's sight. Teaching basic relationship skills to the child.
    4. Autonomy & Independence: Treating the child (or children) with respect and trying to build his or her self-esteem. Encouraging the child to become self-reliant and self-sufficient.
    5. Education & Learning: Promoting and modeling learning. Supporting the completion of homework. Supporting and modeling reading. Supporting school curriculum goals within the home. Participating in school functions.
    6. Life Skills: Managing your money responsibly. Having a steady income. Providing all household necessities consistently. Planning for shortages and emergencies. Planning for the future. Striving for improvement.
    7. Behavior Management: Using positive reinforcement and reward systems extensively. Using minimal but effective forms of discipline. Providing a proper balance of affection and discipline. Teaching the child positive and effective techniques for interacting with other people.
    8. Healthy Lifestyle: Supporting and modeling healthy eating habits, daily exercise, good sleeping habits, and good hygiene.
    9. Religion & Spirituality: Supporting the child's spiritual or religious development and activity. Participate in religious, spiritual, or communal activities with your child. Supporting friendships with religious or spiritual peers.
    10. Safety. Taking necessary precautions to protect the child. Maintaining awareness of the child's activities and friends appropriate to his or her abilities and level of maturity. Making the child feel safe about disclosing secrets. Establishing rules appropriate to his or her abilities and level of maturity.
    The examination of the above top 10 parenting skills in the light of the Baha'i teachings, will demonstrate the harmony of science and religion and how the parents can translate what they learn into action in daily life.

    The presentation will utilize a Power Point presentation, discussion, interactions, stories, clinical examples, etc.

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