Margaret Clarke, Canberra Regional Meeting
In her book, Practicing Peace a devotional walk through the Quaker tradition, Catherine Whitmire quotes Rufus
Jones: Something of God comes into our world with every child that is born. There is here with the newborn child a
divine spark, a light within…
Catherine’s own thinking takes this notion forward — And since we can see in each child’s eyes an inimitable
reflection of that divine spark, our work as parents and mentors is not to make our children in our image, but to share
with them the religious beliefs and moral values that we find life-giving (p.75).
Ah, now there is a challenge. To share something, we must have something. This may be stating the obvious, but
just how confident and knowledgeable are we about the beliefs and values that we have found to be life-giving?
On the same page Catherine quotes Elizabeth Watson about supporting children to grow — We should respect their
right to grow into their own wholeness, not just the wholeness we may wish for them.
Another challenge – our beliefs and values need to be strong enough to support our children as they grow, not only
into their own image, but also quite possibly into a social and physical wholeness which is unfamiliar to our own
And yet for our own sake, and that of our children and the young people in our lives, we need to have confidence that
our beliefs and values are sufficiently strong and resilient to be life-giving in all circumstances.
Elise Boulding adds a third challenge: ‘…[to] raise children to be sufficiently alienated from society so they won’t
accept things ‘as they are’, and sufficiently identified with it so that they will contribute in creative ways to the building
of a better social order’ (Boulding, 1961, Whitmire pg79).
The faith and beliefs of the Religious Society of Friends have stood me in good stead over the long and winding road
of parenting, and life in general. It seems to me that we Quakers are fortunate to be able to include both Faith and
Practice, and Advice and Queries among our most trusted parenting/family-building guides.