As UK parents look forward to Mother’s Day on 11 March, the charity Open Doors is supporting an Arabic online community on parenting, which encourages parents in the Middle East to teach their children ‘kingdom values’. Irene*, a Christian from the Middle East, wife and mother-of-two, is a regular contributor to the blog, and has written the blog below to fellow parents to describe how important the online community is.
When the news headlines feature a country in the Middle East, I wonder what image first pops into your head. I suppose our region is most associated with war, religious extremism, intolerance and suffering. Right?
Well, from my perspective, being a Christian mother from the near East, let me tell you that our daily struggles here probably resemble yours more than you think. Arab families worry about the same sort of questions you do: how to get our children to eat well, how to get them to sleep on time and how to let them help around the house, etc.
However, there are some cultural issues here in the Middle East that add extra pressure. Strong, extended families are a blessing; grandparents, aunts and cousins can all be called upon for babysitting and cooking meals, which is great! But it can come at a price. Children end up being parented by multiple adults who often have quite different ideas and approaches, and this leads to tension between the adults and confusion for the children.
Additionally, there are very few Biblical parenting resources available in Arabic. I don’t know how many parenting books you’ve read, or how many seminars you’ve attended, but these important sources of help and support are hardly available here.
What complicates things even more is our culture, which is heavily influenced by the dominant majority religion in our region. For example, admitting you have problems or need help is seen as a weakness in our society, so parents often suffer in silence. This causes small problems to grow into more serious ones.
An easily accessible blog, based upon kingdom values and written in Arabic with real life stories and advice, has enabled us to connect with and encourage thousands of parents across the region. Knowing that they’re not alone and that their experiences are ‘normal’ is the first step towards finding new approaches and solutions to the problems they face.
Through this online community, in which I am a blogger, we can support parents all over the Middle East in parenting their children, applying what we like to call ‘kingdom values’. These include boys and girls being treated equally, parenting out of love and not fear, parents feeling free to admit it if they make mistakes, and the importance and centrality of forgiveness.
As a fellow parent, what do you think is the most important value in God’s kingdom that you would like to imprint on your children?