“We have enjoined upon you fasting during a brief period, and at its close have designated for you Naw-Rúz as a feast . The traveler, the ailing, those who are with child or giving suck, are not bound by the fast . . . Abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sundown, and beware lest desire deprive you of this grace that is appointed in the Book.” – Baha’u’llah
Tomorrow, March 1st, the Baha’is all over the world will be starting a new month which is the last one in the Baha’i Calendar. During the next 19 days Baha’is above the age of 15 and under the age of 70 have this wonderful privilege of abstaining during the day from food and drink in order to especially dedicate more time on spiritual development, meditation, character development and helping others.
Though the Baha’i Faith is not passed from generation to generation as an obligation, Baha’i parents raise their children in the spirit of the Faith and teach the very foundations, such as, history, laws, prayers, virtues and more.
Naturally, as miss T got it older she had a whole bunch of questions about the Fast: the whys and the hows. So today I would like to share some practical tips with you on how you can prepare and involve your child for/into the Fast. These tips also work whether you are observing the physical past of the Fast or not.
1. Reading prayers and quotations together. There is really a good reason behind Baha’i Writings instructing us to read the Writings every morning and every night. I don’t see a better way during the Fasting Month to show the dedication and how spiritual support helps us go through our days and inspires us. We also bond through this experience on a spiritual level.
2. Shopping for the Fasting time and meal planning. This is another excellent opportunity for a child of any age to observe and to participate in the process. Older children will be more excited about this idea and they can learn about the importance of a balanced meal.
3. Cooking together. Having a child with you in the kitchen or helping you with cooking and helping you taste the food that you can’t taste during the day – one of the great ways to instill responsibility.
4. Researching and printing out the timetable for sunrise and sunset for every day of the Fasting Month. Younger ones can turn it into a coloring activity while older ones will also learn to read time better and help maintaining punctuality.
5. Settling into a Fasting routine. Your young child might request to fast. Don’t get shocked or scared – let him. It could be just a few hours. Or the initial breakfast before the sunrise and dinner at sunset. Children learn through an actual experience.
6. Spending time together. Whether you are able to physically fast or not, the Fasting Month is a time to especially emphasize our spiritual development. Taking time to get closer to your children, creating opportunities to serve (be it setting the table, or donating clothes and toys) empower us and our children, bring our relationship on a whole different level.
I wish you a very happy Fasting Month, if you are observing! And I hope these tips will help you during this time and any other special time you take to educate your child about your beliefs.