Shaping the Future - A Call to Parents
(Article from Jumuah Magazine)
Shouldn't we examine ourselves and do our utmost to perfect this crucial skill:Parenting.
One hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove ... but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child."
This anonymous poem reflects much of the sentiment taught by our beloved Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, 1400 years ago.
The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "If the son of Adam dies, his actions are ceased except three: A continuing charity, knowledge which benefits others, or a righteous son who supplicates for him." (Muslim and Ahmed)
In our graves, our wealth will be of no benefit to us. The success of our careers, and the level of our degrees will be of no value. How well we raised our children will. And yet so much of our time, so much of our learning and our efforts are spent for the sake of those things, which are fleeting.
In another hadeeth the Prophet, sallal lahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "A servant will have his rank raised and will say: `O my Lord how has this come about for me?' He says, `Through your sons after you seeking forgiveness for you."' (Ahmed and Ibn Majah)
When we leave this world, what will we leave behind? What mark will we make? What will we send forward? What will we take? Our children will inherit this life. In their hands may lay our ultimate salvation-or our ultimate ruin. In their hands may lay the ulti mate salvation or ruin of our Ummah. Shouldn't something that important demand our full
attention? Shouldn't we examine ourselves and do our utmost to perfect this crucial skill: parenting.
DO NOT IMPOSE, INSTILL LOVE EARLY
Imagine a child raised in a home where, aside from some cultural norms, Islam is essentially irrelevant. Parents are not serious about salah and whatever Islamic practice they do per form is done more out of ethnic customs than Islam. Now imagine the child reaches puberty. A girl who was never really instilled with Islam before, is now forced to wear hijab. A boy whose life was never centered around Islam is now made to attend Salatul-Jumuah. Will it surprise any one if those kids rebel?
Consider, on the other hand, a child who was raised knowing and loving Qur'an, was taken to the masjid early on, and performed salah alongside his parents. Would hijab or Salatul Jumuah need to be imposed? Or would it only be a natural extension for a child whose very nature is Islam? Instill and reinforce love for Allah and His Messenger from the day they are born.
KILL YOUR TELEVISION AND VIDEO GAMES
Many parents monitor what their chil dren watch, but not how much. No matter how much you monitor, these things are still harmful for a number of reasons. First, watching television is a learned habit that does not disappear in adulthood. A young child could agree to watch Sesame Street. But chances are, a teenager will not. And few could disagree that television programs designed for teenagers and adults contain far from Islamically appropriate content. Secondly, consid er the number of hours that are easily eaten up by TV and video games. Children can literally stay up the entire night playing a video game in order to advance to a higher level. Consider the words of our Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, concern ing the importance of time: "The feet of a servant will not turn away on the Day of judgment until he is asked about four things: his life time, how he lived it; his youth, how he spent it; his wealth, from where he earned it and on what he spent it, and his knowledge and how he put it to work." (Tirmithi)
Lastly, studies show that irrespective of content, children who spend a lot of time with television and video games are more aggres sive, less likely to read, and more like ly to develop attention problems, such as attention deficit disorder.
"SPOIL" YOUR KIDS WITH LOVE, TIME, AND ATTENTION
One unfortunately pervasive myth is that giving children "too much" love, time and affection "spoils" them. This could not be farther from the truth. It is trying to give them other things to replace your love, time and affection, which in fact spoils them. Children who are "spoiled" with love and atten tion become the most generous, lov ing
and giving of people. Those from whom this love and attention was withheld, often become narrow hearted and unwilling to give.
No one was more merciful and showed more affection to children than our beloved Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was once visited by Al Aqra' ibn Habis. He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, lifted Al-Hassen, placed him on his lap and kissed him. Al-Aqra said, "I have 10 children and I have not kissed a single one of them." This was a point of pride, manhood-that one is not soft, that one is tough. The Prophet said to him, "Can I help it if Allah has removed mercy from your heart?" He, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, went on to say, "And whoever is not merciful will not receive mercy." (Bukhari and Muslim)
DO NOT REWARD FOR ACTS OF WORSHIP
Do not pay your children to fast, or promise them large gifts if they
pray. Instill in them a love for Allah that will motivate them
internally to perform salah and fast. Social psychologists have shown
that when people are given external rewards or motivation to do some
activity, they enjoy doing that activity less and are less motivat ed,
than if they are given no external reward but the reward is internally
START ATTACHMENT EARLY
Practice attachment parenting early on. When your children are young, let them sleep next to you, and carry them often. Research shows that doing these things does NOT spoil the child, but creates a secure attachment between the parent and child that allows the child to succeed better as an adult. This attachment is a fundamental precursor to successful parenting because without it you cannot fully instill Islam. Consider, for example, the relationship between the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and his daughter Fatima. From very early on, she maintained a close relationship with her Father who thereby conveyed his mission to her.
ATTACHMENT IS THE FIRST STEP TO DISCIPLINE
If a secure attachment is created early on between the parent and child, discipline will easily follow. If the parent maintains this closeness with the child and shows consistent love and approval, the child will avoid doing things that would disappoint or jeopardize that relationship. Discipline should not and would not need to be done with a stick, but would rather flow naturally. If the relationship were based on love and respect, the child would be motivated by the desire to maintain that respect.
BUILD YOUR CHILD'S SELF ESTEEM
Make sure your children know how precious they are. Tell them whenever possible how good and how smart they are. Make sure they know what a gift they are and how important they are as a person. Let them know that they can have the ability to change the world, and show them how much faith and hope you have in them. A child who is told he is a failure will always be a failure. And only a child who thinks he can
change the world, ever will.