History of the Quaker Parenting Initiative
In the rush and confusion of our lives—especially our lives with our children—we, a group of women, turned to our Quaker faith to find that silent space, to find direction. Beginning in 2003 we sought to explore and articulate the meaning of Quakerism in our lives as parents.
We learned that historically issues related to child rearing have been a part of Quakerism. Pennsylvania was settled by Quaker parents whose top priority was the spiritual safety of their children1 This concern expressed itself in providing for their children’s economic as well as their spiritual well-being.
Margery Bacon in her Story of Quaker Women in America wrote;
Early minutes of advice by women’s meetings constantly referred to the importance of parents setting a good example as the prime means of raising children properly. Although naughty children were sometimes whipped, and disobedient youth were threatened with disinheritance, Quaker parents emphasized reasoning and persuasion.2
As we shared we realized that Quakerism today had spoken very clearly to each of us about how to live with and guide our children in our ongoing daily lives. During the next three years we met six or seven times each year sharing our experiences. Three queries guided our efforts as we sought to articulate the role of Quakerism in our parenting.
What Quaker beliefs—such as seeing that of God (or the Divine, the Inner Light) in every person—have set the tone for our parenting?
How have the Quaker testimonies of integrity, equality, peace, simplicity, stewardship, and service guided how we have responded to and guided our children?
How have the Quaker practices—such as being mindful, asking queries, and holding in the Light—proven invaluable to our parenting?
We explored how following our Quaker beliefs, testimonies, and practices enriched our living in community whether it be in our families or our Meetings.
We found that our paths have been different, as have our understandings. The commonality was the journey and the belief that there was a way.