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Asking the Clergy: What role do your religious beliefs play in parenting?

Parenting is such an important responsibility that it’s honored on three special days — Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Parents Day, which is celebrated on July 22. For many Long Island parents, religion offers not only moral and ethical standards for child-rearing but a worldview to pass along to children. This week’s clergy discuss religious teachings that assist in guiding youngsters to adulthood.

Jamaal Bernard

Author, “Unapologetic Christianity: Bold Living in a Chaotic World" (Austin Brothers), and senior pastor, Christian Cultural Center’s Long Island Campus, Smithtown

In Christianity, religious faith is crucial in raising children. A major factor is the Christian concept of love. God has set the standard on how to love, which in the context of parenting means loving our children unconditionally and sacrificially.

Through our brokenness, however, we often lack an understanding of what love is. Brokenness manifests itself in five ways: ignorance, selfishness, moral weakness, uncontrolled passion and blindness. When we recognize our brokenness and try to understand love and how to love, we see that we are limited. Nevertheless, when we come to a revelation of God, we can understand that all aspects of love are rooted in God’s love.

It is in God’s love that we start the healing and mending process, which leads us to shift our view of why and how we love. There is a process that we as Christians go through to adjust our lens on how we view love.

The Bible describes the characteristics of love in 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, Love is kind, Love doesn’t keep any record of wrong, Love is not rude.” These Bible passages help guide me as I interact with my own children.

Ashok Vyas

Hindu Priest, Samvit Sadhanayan, Bellerose, Queens

Hinduism is a way of life. According to Hindu tradition, we get up in the morning, look at both palms and gratefully acknowledge the divine energy manifesting through our hands.

Our religious faith asks us to be alert, aware and sensitive, not just to people but to all living beings, including trees and rivers. Hindu parents want to share these perceptions with their children, so their offspring can connect with life in its totality.

Hindu parents want their kids to appreciate the vastness of this universe and to be sensitive to and connect with the beauty and glory of creation. Hinduisim opens up a human being’s innate ability to see timelessness in the transient.

The dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjun in the Hindu Scripture Bhagavad-Gita offers time-tested guidance to do your duty and act with dignity without stress and anxiety. These concepts are sustained from generation to generation by the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita, and other inspiring and enlightening Hindu scriptures. The message of oneness blossoms creatively in all scriptures.

Hindu parents’ selfless love for kids is also sustained by faith in the divine design behind having a family, and a belief in the freedom and dignity of each human being. Parents rarely impose religious practices on children. Instead they believe that each child will respond to the all-pervading divine in his or her unique way.

For Hindus, parenting means taking responsibility for helping their children develop to their full potential and providing tools for the overall growth of an individual’s personality by paying attention to body, mind and soul.

Yousuf U. Syed

Trustee, Islamic Association of Long Island and The Selden Mosque  

Islam reminds parents and children that they are blessings to each other, that they must have a loving and respectable relationship and that parents must raise children by their example.

The Quran offers examples of parenting that do not work out as intended, with both good and bad results. For instance, there is the story of the prophet Abraham’s father, who engaged in idolatry. In contrast, Abraham became a staunch monotheistic person even before he became a prophet of God.

The Quran also tells the story of the prophet David’s children who turned out to be polar opposites: The prophet Joseph was a pious man of God whose own brothers tried to kill him out of jealousy and hate.

The Quran makes the point that parents must do their best to love and raise their children well, but neither is responsible for the other’s behavior — although both are responsible to God. To keep their children from harm, Muslims rely on God’s mercy, compassion and protection.

With Muslim children often bullied in schools, many are fearful that misunderstandings and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims are on the rise. We teach our children that Islam is also an American religion, that about a third of the African slaves were Muslims who, with their sweat and blood, helped build our country from its inception.

We support our children and hope that, soon, misconceptions about Muslims and Islam shall go away.

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