These five women have varying spiritual beliefs, but they are all just different paths to reach the same destination: to raise kids who will one day grow up to be good people.
Sameera Sehwani Hindu Mom to Zara and Zane and married to Ravin
Hinduism is, among others, respect for others and animals. We don’t eat beef because the cow is sacred to us, and our gods take the form of animals. I want my children to have respect for animals, but I can’t expect my children to become 100-percent vegetarian.
Yes, my daughter goes to an exclusive Catholic school. Sometimes, she does the sign of the cross and prays to Jesus. I don’t mind that she does it—I don’t want to take that faith away from her. I know that she will find her path, just like I did. But I don’t think she gets confused because she sees me and other Hindus practice our traditions. She understands that this is her religion. If you do the Hindu rituals every day, you’re actually following the Hindu path.
Here's what I always tell her. Being a good person is more important than anything else. When somebody does something mean to her (she’s being discriminated against in school), I tell her, "Tune it out. It will come back to her. Karma will take its place." She just has to know who she is and believe in that.
I teach by example. My daughter may not understand whatever I say to her unless she sees me do it, such as treating the maids with kindness. She has the tendency to be masungit, so I always remind her that they are older than she is. She can’t raise her voice at them just as she can’t at me. Sometimes when I do it, she reminds me: "You said we can’t raise our voice, Mommy, so why did you do it?" That’s how I know she learns. Nassreena Sampaco-Baddiri Muslim Mom to Sara Row and Muhammad Malcolm and married to Edil
Islam is a religion of peace, compassion, and love. It teaches us to be generous and compassionate to the less fortunate by sharing our blessings and doing acts of charity (zakat); to be patient and tolerant (al-sabr) amidst adversity; to be considerate and sincere (al-khlas) in our relationships with family, friends, and community; and as parents, to be good and positive influences to our children.
We want them to have a great love for learning. For Muslims, education is a very big deal. The Holy Qur’an says: Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. We get our kids into books by reading to them a lot of fairy tales, Dr. Seuss--you name it. Most importantly, we read about the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).”
Mothers are given so much honor and respect in our religion. At the same time, we have such a big responsibility in raising good children. For me, there is no woman worth emulating than the Prophet Muhammad’s wife, Khadija, who is considered the mother of all Muslims. She is a model of a nurturing, selfless and accomplished Muslim woman—a source of solace and strength for the Prophet in times of persecution.
Micaela Sone Buddhist Mom to Akira, Kiyoto, and Yuji and married to Takashi, 40
Buddhism teaches respect towards all living things. I teach my kids to give due consideration to anything that has life, even if it is just an insect. I treat my kids as young ‘adults,’ and I respect their individuality. In our home, they have the right to be heard and the right to receive an apology if we’ve made a mistake. We respect their ideas, views, and preferences.
I explain what karma means to my kids. Everything that we experience is just an effect of what we have done in our past lives. There’s no accident in this life; it depends on what you’ve done. Even in their early age, I teach my kids that all of their actions have consequences and that they are responsible for the outcome.
My family aims to have a close relationship without compromising discipline. By growing up in a harmonious and peaceful family, my children will become competent and able to face life’s realities. In Buddhism, we have to be committed to enabling our kids to overcome suffering and become happy. In return, kids have to appreciate and obey their parents and mentors. It takes a strong heart to watch them get hurt and experience hardship, but I let my kids learn through their mistakes.
Joy Mendoza Evangelical Christian Mom to Elijah, Edan, Titus, and Tiana and married to Edric
Parenting is a stewardship. My husband Edric and I use the Bible as our parenting manual. The first thing we believe about our children is that they are created by God for God. Therefore, parenting is a stewardship. We have asked God, ‘How do you want us to raise our kids?’ And the Bible gives us a clear parenting goal: to raise our children to know God, love God, obey God, worship God, and follow God.
We believe that our children have the capacity for God. They have been created in the image of God—uniquely designed, gifted, and purposed. Human beings, as opposed to all other animals, are not merely animals. (Okay, sometimes our kids behave like animals!) There is a spiritual dimension to their nature. Little children are incredible! They have the spiritual capacity to understand the gospel and believe it. Amazingly, we have seen our children’s hearts transformed after they make Jesus their Lord and Savior.
Here's how we introduce Jesus Christ to our children. We tell them the beautiful gospel story of God’s love: God loves us so much he sent Jesus to die for our sins and to save us from unrighteousness and the penalty sin (eternal separation from God). We explain to our kids that God wants us to have a relationship with him, but it is not possible until we recognize that we are sinful and lost and need Jesus to save us.
Caryl Benavides Atheist Mom to Caitlin and married to David
Growing up, I was afraid of being judged as a bad person for not believing in God. I fear the same thing would happen to my child if she decides to be an atheist, too. But, [in truth], you don’t need to fear anything as long as you are good to yourself and to others. She can explain her personal belief to them, but she doesn’t have to. My mom, a Catholic who accepts and supports me, once told me, "You don’t have to explain yourself to them. Pabayaan mo na lang sila."
I don’t like [to use fear] to make my child behave. The typical Pinoy way of discipline is through fear: "’Pag ’di ka sumunod, papaluin kita!" I don’t [subscribe to] that. If my child is unruly, I tell her the consequences of her actions. When she fights with her friends, I ask her, "Why are you fighting with them? Do you want them to do the same to you?" She says no, and then I say, "You don’t treat others that way. If you want them to treat you nicely, do the same to them." I want her to do things out of respect--not fear.
I want my daughter Caitlin to know as early as now about other religions. We bought a children’s book, "The Magic of Reality," by Richard Dawkins. It has different myths about the sun and other things, and it also gives scientific explanations. We believe that book can help her be open-minded about different beliefs. Caitlin is curious about Jesus and Mary. She asks me why we don’t go to church. Even if she studies in a nonsectarian school, she still learns about religion through her teacher and even her yaya. I don’t tell her not to believe. I answer her questions the best way I can. If Caitlin wants to be a Catholic, a Muslim, a Buddhist, an atheist -- whatever -- we’ll support her. If [having a] religion will make her a better person, then that’s good.
Photos by Miguel Nacianceno. This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Smart Parenting Magazine. Edits have been made by SmartParenting.com.ph editors.