Our Gathering Discussions

Shall we teach our children Farsi? and Shall we celebrate xmas?
Gathering report:
One question was: If we should force our children to speak Farsi? I think not. My experience with my children and my niece and nephew was that the more you force them the more they get resistant. As long as you speak farsi to them they will understand it and at some point they will start speaking farsi. Both of us (me & my husband) think we should always speak farsi to our children at home, but don't force them to speak farsi at all times.
The other question was: If we should celebrate or at least put up a Christmas tree? One opinion is: No, we shouldn't, because Christmas is a religious celebration of Jesus' birthday. If we are trying to teach our children to be open minded and don't follow a specific religion then we shouldn't really be part of this holiday. We should explain our culture to them and celebrate Norouz as big as possible, so they will look forward to Norouz rather than the Christmas. The other opinion is: Christmas is not religious any more, it is more commercial than any thing else (not that this makes it better) and we should have a tree because we don't want our children to feel left out or different than the other kids.

1 (from an American mother):
One of the things I love about my fun-loving "Persian family" is that they will celebrate ANYTHING! They love Christmas at our house and they come for 4th of July picnics and Easter baskets are great! We don't celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday but rather a really fun thing to do. It's exciting and, aside from the commercial part, we love the beautiful lights everywhere and entertainment and even the amazing displays the stores put on. We also talk alot about how very commercial it is and what the holiday means to Christians and we take the good parts and leave the bad. We do the same with the Persian holidays. Why not?

Salam Doostaan,
lets not be afraid and face it, I think we do spoil our children to a degree that its not going to help them rather it could hurt them and I am so afraid of that and scared to someday facing such situation. Its not that I would want to force them to speak farsi or participate in our religious or traditional ceremonies and celebrate the events that we like them to celebrate, its the fact and fear of having them get involved with a culture, religion, group gathering and social activities that you and I do know very well that could harm them. Its not that I would want to force them to know about true Islam (as much as I know), or true Christianity, Jewism or any other religion or Marxism, Capitalism, or any other ideology, its that I hate to and afraid to see them choose fundamentalism, like a dogma Mollah or get attracted to some colt and get into a mass suicide act or become a neo-natzi and choose a life style that neither us as parents nor the society accepts (extreme). I think our love and care to them and being there with them spending some quality time goes much further than just that, but we need to and should to, we just owe it to them and ourselves and the society to give them direction and advice them, sometime even force them, we do force them to go to school (in a way - dont we?) we need them to understand what our traditions are and ask them to participate in practicing them (the one that we think they are appropriate) so that they can learn them (as part of learning process). I think we need to give our believes and customs or traditions a great deal of attention so that they could take them more seriously and not so casual - if they learn farsi OK fine and if they dont fine or if they go to relatives and pay respect during the Nourouz that is great but if they dont want to, lets not force them.......-
anyways, if we dont direct them the TV and social clubs, schoolmates (no matter which great school they go to) neighborhood friends ...etc will give them ALTERNATIVES that nobody may like it, they may seem to be happy at the time but in future they may come back to you and ask you why did'nt you .... or if we "force" or push them although they may resist and show no interest and hate you for now but I think they will realize it and thank you for it, Ali a good friend of mine told me today at lunch time with tears of joy in his eyes that Seena his 8 years old went to him and said 'Dad thanks for teaching me how to play Chess game' Seena is the Chess champion of his school, very proud and excited about all the attention he is getting from everyone in his school and is looking forward for the next level of competition within his school district, You all should have seen Ali's face so proud and relieved his effort since Seena was 3-4 years old has just paid off, Ali enjoys teaching him how to play 'Takhteh' now days.
lets not spoil our lovely kids and be afraid today, think of consequences.
p.s force in here does not mean harming, abusing or mistreating

I agree with you to some extent. I feel like you are going too extreme. I am not sure if it is for the sake of argument or this is what you believe in. I agree with the part that we should give direction to our children. We should give them the good part of our culture, but if we expect them to be like us then we are wrong. They have a different culture than we do. We are born and raise in a very close traditional culture. We didn't have much choice to choose and explore. What we saw was what we got. On the other hand our children are Irannian-Americans who are born and being raised here with a mixed culture. Expecting them to be true Iranians and be like us and accept every thing we believed in, not only will separate them from us, but also will harm them. Don't take me wrong, I bileive in teaching them our good values and our language and culture. I even believe in forcing them to some degree to learn the culture and the language and if they don't want it they need to have a very intelligent reason behind it. Just because it is easier to talk English to me rather than Farsi is not an intelligent answer. I have a better reason for them why they have to talk Farsi. Then they will do it with a good reason. Not because my mom says and I have to do it, because if I don't, then my dad and grand-ma will get mad at me. Our children are going to have a different culture, weather we like it or not, like any other immigrant children. Chinese-Americans, Chicanos, and... are not true Chinese or Mexicans like their parents. They have a different culture and most of them turned out to be good people. I have seen too many Iranian families who are so proud of their culture that they feel every thing in our culture is the best and nothing gets close to what we have. I don't think so, We do have so many wrong and out dated traditions which not only I don't want my children to learn it, but I was also resistent to it when I was growing up. For example: in our culture children have no right to talk about their feelings or opinions. to some extent they don't even exist until they are grown up and have a good job and making money and then they can talk and every one would listen. This is one extreme. I am not saying this is how it is in all families, but this is common practice. That is why we see Iranian kids who are very shy and can't express themselves. Is this what we want for our children? I don't. I want my children to be proud of what they are and be able to defend their culture and traditions. I want them to be able to criticize the wrong and out dated part of their culture. Then they will be able to analyze what they are getting here and don't follow it because of peer pressure or just because it is common culture at their school or TV or at the movies. We need to give our children the tool to be able to explore, analyze, then accept if it is reasonable and makes sense. I want them to question my values. I want them to ask questions and ask why do they have to pay respect to older people. Why do they have to say hello when they come into a room full of grown ups or even children. Then I will answer then and tell them why in our culture respect is good, because you want to get the same respect, don't you? But if they see a grown up not answering their questions and shutting them up with "this is what you have to do because I am your mother and you have to do it". "In our culture you have to respect the older people even if they are wrong" then I can't defend this culture and respect. There is no reasoning behind this. I can't accept it myself, let alone my poor children. To make the long story short, we need to be open minded and respect others to get respect. We have to analyze our own culture and keep the good and trow away the bad. We have to analyze this culture and get the good and trow away the bad.
Good luck to all of us the first generation immigrants.

4 (email from a madar)
Greetings: The main thing that we have tried to teach our children at home is to be proud of our culture and to be proud to be a little different than their peers. That not only is it not terrible to speak another language, but it is also an advantage. My kids use Farsi deliberatey in front of their friends to "show off". I have made it a routine to speak at their classrooms about Iran. I take Haftseen to their classrooms and talk about Nowrooz and why we celebrate it. I write everyone's names on their notebooks in Farsi and ask them to practice writing. The teachers and the other children think of all this as "exotic" and interesting, not shameful. It is how we approach ourselves as "Iranian" parent that matters to the children.

5 (email from a madar)
hi, i am an iranian mother with a 4 year old daughter who was born in the states. here's my 2 cents on these issues: farsi: i speak to my daughter in a mixture of farsi and english. and, that's how she replies back to me as well. but, she already knows that she has to speak all english to her teachers and all farsi to older members of our family. so far she has not develped any issues with this. it just comes naturally to her. and, i think she's sort of proud that she speaks a language most of her friends don't. xmass: we put up a christmass tree and exchange gifts. i do intend to raise my daughter as a moslem. but, at this age it's really difficult to make her understand why she can't have a tree and receive gifts like her classmates. and, it's really fun to decorate the tree and watch her open her gifts anyways. so, i guess, no harm done at all. of course, we also celebrate norooz with all its traditions. last year we even spread a "haftseen sofreh" at her school. she was really proud to introduce her culture to all the other kids.

6 (email from a madar)
I recently read an interesting article in Parents magazine regarding bilingual children. in summary, it mentioned that frist of all, learning two languages is very good for children in terms of increasing their ability to use their intelligence or something like that. and that there are two methods recommended: 1) let the child master one language by the age 3 and then start teaching the second language. 2) start teaching both languages simultaneousely. The article was for the second method and argued that this is proven to be more effective since children have better capacity than adults can imagine for learning languages.
Also, the center for language and pronounciation in the brain hardware somehow is formed by early teenagehood such that if you learn a language before then, you can become fluent in it. while if you learn it after then, your pronounciation will not be perfect (as is the case for many of us). We tought our children both languages simultaneously. of course we did not teach them English at home (or they would speak English with our accent!) we made the rule of Farsi at home and English outside. and it has worked well since they have been going to preschool. We are very happy that they are fluent in both languages. I have a sister-in-law whose first language is English and speaks English with her children, her husband speaks Farsi to children, and they live in Germany so the children speak German together or with their freinds. They know 3 languages with no problem. I have had freinds from Brazil who were fluent in 5 languages (Chinese (2 dielects), Portegues (sp?), Spanish, and English ) because of similar reasons.
7 (email from a Salvadorian mother)
Salom, This is my participation regarding the subject Should we teach our children Farsi? and Should we celebrate Christmas?.
What a luck to find this madar-pedar site. I am a Spanish speaking lady married to an Iranian. I've learned so much about your culture, which is so much like my own. I think that as any culture it has very good things and traditions and those are the ones we try to continue on passing on to our children. In relation to the Persian speaking to the children I have to admit that if you look at it from the future side to your children, they'll only beneficiate from it. IN our household, Persian is spoken between my husband and the kids (5 and 6 year olds), at all times and Spanish is the language they talk to me and viceversa at all times, French is at school as they attend French school, and English to anyone else that is not either of the above. Confusion? Shame? Force them? Never. The language they speak to each of us has only created a special bond between all of us, proud Spanish and Persian parents. The only feeling they know about our cultures is that we are proud, and so are they. They stop attending their Persian classes at school because of the teacher's (who was a very old fashion teacher,or as my husband said, very "backhome" type). We didn't disagree with them, because we both knew it was very different for them (as we remember our own times) and they compare it to their French school. We have tried to take the best of the 4 cultures (Persian, Spanish, Anglo and French - as in school they're active on it). They got English names with Persian lastnames, as I thought they'll be brought up in a society where I myself don't appreciate my name to be pronounce wrong. They're catholic, as I am, so we celebrate Christmas the right way, Jesus Birthday and Mass and go to church on Sundays. As Iranians that we are, we also celebrate nooruz, and all of the festivities before and after the new year. The kids loved the haftsin I prepared and the mahi and sabzi polo that my sister and her fiance's parents thought it was a great food (like all Iranian food). Iranian Food is the main type of food at home. Kids and I love it, our guests, from all sorts of background, love my Persian cooking. We make the kids enjoy the languages using games to attract them more and expand their vocabulary in different areas. Doing math games in Persian and Spanish, or as my husband does with them, reading an English written book of their choice in Persian - it creates an expansion to the language, in the event of new vocabulary, and special time between him and them. I personally think that as any culture that any proud parent wants to transmite to their kids and descendents, everything is about love which means respect, honour and pride. In conclusion, from a foreign wife of an Iranian, I do think that having our children to speak our languages is only a respect we are promoting from their side to their ancestors, from whom I am sure we all feel proud of. And again, look at it from another bright side, kids as the report someone else mentioned, developed many more skills when they speak another language, It becomes easier to speak a third one, or fourth one. I'm telling you, I am proud my husband didn't listen to some people's comments when our first one was born because he thought only from him, they will never be able to do it. Now, he is proud he did it and they also like it. It came naturally to them, when they were born, and that's how they have always seen it. They played backgammon with him, love the khorestes va polo that their Salvadorean madar cooks, the picnics with Iranian families and just being a Kid that at a family birthday gathering will sing Bonne Fete!, Happy Birthday! Tabalore Mobarak! and Feliz Cumpleanos. Khodafez shoma and all the best for the new year. God bless!
8 (email from a parent)
Why not. By learning Farsi our children have access to a treasure in arts , literature ,,,etc . They will also become familiar with their parent(s)' culture and history . They can choose to be proud of it . Knowing another language in itself has advantages . they can learn of the persian contributiins to the human civilization recorded by farsi resources .It may also help avert any potential feelings of inferiority that might arise from having at least one parent from another land .i am certain that there are more reasons too . one note of caution , as parents we are responsible not to transfer those aspects of our cultur that each parent may recognize as harmful . Celebration of christmas needless to say is a matter of personal choice as it is teaching of farsi .
Celebrating the Birth of jesus from a religious point of view is not against muslim teachings infact a muslim is not a muslim if he does not believe in jesus . From a non religious point of view jesus is one of the greatest figures in human history . Last, celebrating christmas is in no way taking away from norouz or other iranian or muslim traditions. we all can learn and benefit from other cultures what we find good about them and contribute to other cultures what is unique and good about ours . By what standards ???? By the standards we all share regardless of any dissimilarities , and that is our humanity . Best wishes
9 (email from a pesar)
salam ham vatananeh aziz,
I don't have children, but as a child I grew up away from Iran, and I can relate to the problems all parents are faced with. To comment about children speaking farsi, I think no child should be forced to speak farsi at a young age, they will eventually pick it up themselves as long as their parents speak farsi to them at home, I learned it that way and then when I grew older my mother taught me how to write it and also learned about our culture, and it worked out fine, I now speak and write it fluently. As far Christmas is concerned; why do kids love Christmas? It's the presents under the tree. Why not do that for them, at their age I don't think many American kids even know exactly what Christmas is. They want to go see their friends later and tell them about the presents they received, and I think it may hurt them if they don't have a tree or didn't get any presents, just don't let them feel like an outsider.
By the way this is just my opinion.
10 (email from a mother)
I am a Muslim Mexican American mother married to a praticing Muslim Iranian. At the age of 4 my mother converted to Islam and a year latter my mother married an Iranian who didn't pratice his religion much, it was more of a cultural thing. Anyway, my mother put us into Catholic School and we were raised as such until 12. We were not encouraged to speak spanish and thus I never learned. It was pressure for me growing up, because my Mexican relatives constantly said things like, "Its such a shame that you don't know your heratige." "Why can't you speak spanish, what's wrong with you." etc... Anyway, at the age of 12, I decided to convert to Islam and wear the hijab and pratice my religion and the rest of my family, including my parents, started to pratice Islam. At this point my family became united in our ideas, beliefs, and pratices and life became very smooth, whereas, other parents that didn't find any type of middle ground ended up with confused children and parents in divorce.
Looking back on my life experiences I learned many things and have praticed these lessons in my life. 1st of all, I married a sweet man that had the same ideas and beliefs as me, therefore, we are able to create a happy and balanced family life for our children and we are able to give our children confidence in who they are even though they are 5 and 4years old. We are able to teach our children Farsi and about their cultures and religion and they have no problem in learning any of these things and feel pride in being what they are. In fact my oldest daughter goes to Farsi school and had a problem with other girls that told other classmates not to play with her because I wear hijab. My 5 year old daughter told these girls that her mommy was a nice mommy and if they didn't want to play with her then, "Who cares!" The next Saturday my daughter went to Farsi school with a scarf on. I asked her if she was sure, because she might get teased, but she was strong in her belief that she wanted everyone to know that she stands by her mommy and her hejab. I was really proud of her and I can really see how important it is for parents to have unity before they have children and even get married. I'm not tring to tell people to pratice their religion or convert to Islam. My point is that if you want to teach your children something ( Farsi, Iranian culture or Islam)then support of BOTH parents is needed otherwise the children will turn towards the parent or friend or culture that requires the least effort.
In regards to Christmas, that is an individual family desion, because as we all know there are many inter-religious marriages. However, if you want to raise your children as Iranian (both parents are Iranian) then Christmas is not apart of that culture unless the family is Christian. Remember that Christmas is for Christians just like Hanukka is for Jews.
Khoda Hafiz
11 (email from a madar)
Dear (Mother # 10):
Your letter brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry that "intolerance" of others make life difficult for people to lead their life in the manner they feel comfortable and in peace with. It saddens me that your little girl has to at the young age of 5 learn such difficult lessons and has to feel that she needs to make a stand. We all learn these lessons sooner or later but I always wish that it will come to us when we are more of an adult. I congratulate you for having such a confident and strong child and I wish everybody could instill such strength in their children. Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
12 (email from a pedar)
Whom are we kidding?
I think kids have much higher confident and self-esteem, beyond of what we as parents would imagine!, the problem start, when we try to impose our own set of belief and standards on children.
And that's when we rob them of their childhood, life experiences through another human being's view. Latter on, we would wonder where and when we went wrong!
13 (email from a mother)
I agree with your (pedar # 12) statement regarding the parent who wishes to "mold" her child. I think she will be disappointed in the end. It's best if we treat our children, not as clay which we can mold, but as human beings who will eventually (inevitably) be making their own decisions about their lives. As parents, the best we can do for our children is to teach them how to think for themselves, not teach them how to perform for our approval.
14 (email from a madar (#11))
It is true that nobody can quite "mold" a child but in reality, parents give their children what they know, we bring up our kids the way we know best, the way we were brought up or and the way we have learned from our experiences and our education as an adult. My impression of mother #10's letter was not that she was trying to mold her child rather she was trying to teach her the values she believes in. Is not that what we all try to do? Whatever those believes might be? Sometimes they are not main stream but so what? our children learn from us, we may not "mold" and I hardly wish to mold my child but I believe we teach them our values and we teach them how to think for themselves and know right from wrong. when they are adult they may choose a different way of life than their parents chose but don't you still wish and pray that they chose a life that brings peace and happiness to them. That life can be a religious life or a secular life, as long as my child learns to lead her or his life without imposing her "ideal" life style on others, then I feel I have accomplished something in her or his education.
15 (email from a pedar (#12))
Please reread the letter again, to me That's REALLY SCARY!!
{>I can really see how important
> it is for parents to have unity before they have children and even get
> married. I'm not tring to tell people to pratice their religion or
> convert to Islam.}
When you start generalizing your own view and make a statement like that, it would sends a familiar signal and we all know what that signal is. "Unity" ? what are you talking about? it's really a code word for "my way", "only me" or else...
I think it's time for a little "impurity" as we approach to the turn of the century! It's time for showing mutual tolerance.!
Not scared enough, read some more!
{> In regards to Christmas, that is an individual family desion, because as
> we all know there are many inter-religious marriages. However, if you
> want to raise your children as Iranian (both parents are Iranian) then
> Christmas is not apart of that culture unless the family is Christian.
> Remember that Christmas is for Christians just like Hanukka is for Jews.}
16 (email from a daughter raised in the U.S.)
Regarding Speaking Farsi:
I refused to speak Farsi from age 8 to age 18 - out of shame. If they feel pride, and if it's fun (at parties, with relatives) they will speak it.
I stopped speaking Farsi when a few stupid older Iranians shook their heads in shame at my American accent and made comments about how Americanized these kids were. I was so embarrassed that I never wanted to go through that again - it was easier to feign ignorance.
I am now fluent again, due to the fact that I made a group of Iranian friends in college who were very supportive of me.
Regarding Celebrating Christmas:
The tree and the gifts are so beautiful - that's all that children understand. I resented my parents for years for not having a beautiful tree in our house - I couldn't see the harm in it. We now celebrate everything - and appreciate the beauty of all of it - and the commonality of people all over the world taking time to appreciate love,life, family, etc.
As for those who beleive that Christmas is for Christians, Hanukkah is for Jews, etc....my Mother, who is Moslem and Iranian, used to celebrate HANUKKAH in Iran with her Jewish neighbors when she was a child, before fanaticism set into our respective worlds.
17 (email from a madar)
I have an 8 years old daughter and a 4 years old son. I go back and forth about a lot of things I see you guys are discussing about. One is how strict I want to be about teaching my kids persian. I send my daughter to these persian classes they just opened in our city. However, I am not very strict about her speaking persian. I try to speak persian with my kids whenever we are alone. I don't speak farsi with them when we have non persians around or running errands. I just don't like it when other people speak a language I don't understand around me.
I have to admit since both my children go to school and speak english all the time, I have a hard time answering them in persian and answer in English majority of the times.
18 (email from a parent)
I am an Iranian who was raised in the States for nearly all my life. I am an attorney by trade and I have a 5 year old boy (who happens to speak three languages with no problems whatsoever). Regarding bilingualism- trilingualism--If you have the will, it can be done, harm free.
My concern is that the pedar, and several other later responders, who responded so negatively to the #10 madar, seem to have severe insecurities that have caused him to literally attack her ideas, perspectives, and input without any rational thought or deep contemplation. Instead, he has made surface remarks that have no real merit in this venue where all are sharing their views and experiences.
In my brief analysis of his statements, he heard words and phrases like "practicing muslim", "hijab", "Islam", and went out of control, making terrible accusations and insinuations of the words she used, when I saw no such hints belying those words.
What I believe must be done, is to accept ideas different than our own as possible legitimate alternatives, either accept or decline them for use in our own lives, and to not attribute hidden agenda's to ideas that we may not personally like, and to not make a "radical Islamic force" or "fanaticism" scare where one is not warranted. We have enough negative name calling going on in our society, that to make room for its presence here would be be truly unfortunate.
So right on Sister- Madar #10! Express your ideas and experiences with all those who have open minds!
19 (email from a mother)
I have two children, the oldest is 3. My husband has always talked to her in Farsi only and she not only began to talk early, but is very fluent in both English and Farsi and can express herself very well. I chose to have a Farsi speaking baby sitter. This has really been a help for me. I don't know if you are working but if so the choices are Iranian or even someone from Afghanistan ( They are also wonderful people and there is not too much difference in the language ). Try to find someone who has a child close in age to yours so that they can speak together. I also have purchased the Shahr-e-Alefba CDROM from Learnin' Minds Media Lab and she has been using it since age of two. It is the best product I have seen for teaching Farsi. Unfortunately, I have learned that very good quality educational products for children in Farsi just do not exist. It is really hard to compete with Barney, all the computer games and vidios, and etc. What I decided was to limit the amount of english computer games and vidios until they are older, because I saw that she natuarally wanted to play the english ones more simply because the colors, animation and versatility is greater. Hope this helps, and if anyone out there knows of any good computer games or good vidios other than Mary Apicks' Pari Jungal please send me and email because I cannot find them.
20 (email from a madar)
Shall we teach Farsi to our kids? Absolutely! We should teach them Farsi but never force them to learn it. I have to admit that it is not an easy task. We have to work on it constantly and be very careful not to discourage or confuse the children. And, the older they get, the harder it gets as they spend more and more time at school and with their American friends, not to mention the peer pressure! I have a 5 year old daughter and she speaks both Farsi and English fluently, and she knows (reads and writes) half of the Farsi alphabets. Beside speaking Farsi at home most of the time, we've always tried to make a point to her that it is a privilege that she can speak and learn another language beside English and always tried to praise her for speaking Farsi "so beautiful"!! Luckily, she's always had either a caregiver, teachers, or friends who were bilingual, and of course that always gave us the opportunity to encourage her more. She could also see that being bilingual is not an odd or unusual thing. Also, teaching our kids Farsi increases their ability to learn other languages as well.

As for celebrating Christmas, I'd say why not! We usually get a small tree and put some lights and simple decorations on it and buy only one gift for our daughter. We don't concentrate on the religious part of the holiday, she wouldn't understand it anyway. All she wants are those lights on the tree and telling her friends that Santa did come to her house, too!

We emphasize heavily on Norooz though, and that is one of my child's favorite family traditions. As I have seen it happened to other kids around me, I believe that if we emphasize on our own traditions and acknowledge the American holidays, these kids will grow up respecting and recognizing the Iranian traditions as their main family traditions. Just get them involved and make it fun for them!

>From Florida,

21 (email from a pedar)
Ba Salam,

Children are so pure that they are like mirrors and tend to reflect everything. In this light we all try to insure what they reflect is in line with our insights.

Parents should try to povide a Farsi learning environment for their kids and speak Farsi to them. If they answer back in English, this is acceptable since it is their first nature. My experience with my relatives tells me speaking and teaching Farsi to kids can only be very effective if they are also included in Iranian and family gatherings.

Regarding Christmas, our teaching to our children should be of a dynamic nature. First we should have a system of belief system. Most of Iranians believe in the soul of Islam and are enlighten spiritually eventhough they might not be orthodox Muslim in the literal meaning of it. This level of enlightment in us should be and will be transffered to our children. In this venue, what is merrier than celebrating what is called birthday of one of the so called most enlighten individual persons in history? And if we are a practicing Muslim, believing in prophethood is one of the pillars of Islam and therefore celebrating his birthday is not out of line. Second, as the kids start their intellectual development the commercialization of this holy event should be noted to our children in a wise and serene manner and emphasied on yearly basis.

22 (email from a mother)
My dear brother and sister and Pedar#21,

I read your email and I actually enjoyed many part of it, since I am mother with two children in this country.

1) Regarding the Farsi teaching, since I have worked most of the time and my children were in day care. It was very difficult to have them talk in Farsi. But, now that my sons are 13 and 11, and they try to talk in Farsi and if I put an English word in my talks, they correct me. I really feel we as a parent are responsible to teach our children and show them the right path. As it is mentioned in Quran many of our messenger have done the same thing on religious aspect:

[al-Baqarah 2:132] Moreover, Abraham exhorted his children to do the same, and so did Jacob: "O my children, GOD has pointed out the religion for you; do not die except as submitters."

[al-Baqarah 2:133] Had you witnessed Jacob on his death bed; he said to his children, "What will you worship after I die?" They said, "We will worship your god; the god of your fathers Abraham, Ismail, and Isaac; the one god. To Him we are submitters."

2) regarding Christmas, I actually approach it with my children in very dynamic way too. When they were very small, I put small Christmas tree in their room with light. When they were a little older, they were constantly asking for bigger tree and I got bigger tree, but I did not put the angle on the tree. When they asked why. When they got to a point that they understand more, I explained that we are Muslim and we should not do it. I even mentioned, if they want gift, I will buy it for them, no matter, if there is a tree or not. Finally, I started to stand on my opinion and I mentioned that we should not do it. I asked them a question as if other religion will celebrate our new year. I think this question put them into thinking and they did not ask for it anymore. I have to explain that this was my approach. I also made sure that they understand about our new year activity and they love it. Especially, when I give them new Quran from the Quran.

3) Regarding your question about our prophet hood. I have a different approach. I have been trying to have their focus on GOD Alone. We actually talk about how nice it is to be a good submitter and We appreciate all our messenger on what they have done in this path. I think this is new era. We need to focus on the message which has been given to us. You may say that this will change my way of thinking. But, believe me, we as a human being will change the practice. We need to purify our practice.

[al-A`raf 7:70.11] They said, "Did you come to make us worship GOD alone, and abandon what our parents used to worship?

If you go through all the Quran, God has constantly mentioned that WE should worship him alone and follow our messenger, which means have our practice like them and listen to their teaching which came from GOD ALONE.

[Al-Imran 3:51.12] "GOD is my Lord and your Lord; you shall worship Him alone. This is the right path."

[al-An`am 6:102.19] Such is GOD your Lord, there is no god except He, the Creator of all things. You shall worship Him alone. He is in control of all things.

[Maryam 19:36.15] He also proclaimed, "GOD is my Lord and your Lord; you shall worship Him alone. This is the right path."

[al-Anbiya' 21:25.21] We did not send any messenger before you except with the inspiration: "There is no god except Me; you shall worship Me alone."

And, to close this part of my conversion:

[al-An`am 6:162.19] Say, "My Contact Prayers (Salat), my worship practices, my life and my death, are all devoted absolutely to GOD alone, the Lord of the universe.

4) And lastly, regarding your last comment, I have been a Muslim all my life, but I have never gotten the proper religious teaching from my family. Yes, we always talked about GOD, I did fast. I did my pray usually. But, after I started to really devote my religion to GOD alone and reading Quran more frequently, I prefer to have my practice more on what is in Quran. What I mean is, I constantly talked with my kids on how the religious teaching is in Quran and what are the most important thing and how they should be a good Muslim. Yes, if it comes up, I definitely tell them about the days, but I will have their focus completely on GOD.

[an-Nahl 16:52.21] To Him belongs everything in the heavens and the earth and therefore, the religion shall be devoted absolutely to Him alone. Would you worship other than GOD?

I hope I did not give a headache and thanks for your time;

23 (email from a teacher web visitor)

I am a preschool teacher who has a Farsi speaking child in my class.....

I believe children should be taught to respect their heritage and should learn the ways of their culture. I am English speaking only...I believe people who speak different languages should teach their children the language of both their own and the country they live in. I see it is very hard for the Farsi speaking child to understand what is wanted or expected of him in my class when he does not understand what I am saying to him. He gets very frustrated, understandably so, when I cannot understand what he is saying to me also. I regret never learning a second or third language myself.

Regarding religion, I believe parents should teach their children what the parents believe in and that there are many beliefs in the world Forcing a child to be without any beliefs because the parents are afraid of making a child believe something they may disagree with later is as wrong as not feeding that child because he may not like what you prepared someday!!!

I wish the best for each family that is in a foreign country and hope you each can learn to love yourself and each other no matter what the differences may be.

Please send your replies and/or opinions regarding this subject to madar-pedar@surya.eecs.berkeley.edu. Do not forget to include the topic in the subject line.

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