Author: Anum Ali
The personality of children is similar to clay and parents can mold it whichever way they want while the kids are still in their adolescent years. However, it is a challenge to maintain the delicate balance between Islamic and psycho-social upbringing.
Well-balanced parenting covers education (Islamic teaching and academic schooling), emotional management, social intelligence, hygiene and personal grooming, and character development. The idea of raising well-balanced Muslim kids; therefore, extends far beyond the decisions of homeschooling and Hifz school. If your child has memorized the Qur’an but cannot apply the prescribed etiquette of living from the Book of Allah, we have a problem. If he or she has been home-schooled to avoid the repercussions of public schooling, but has failed to develop the psycho-social intelligence required to function in practical environments of school, college, work, and beyond – we have a problem. The key is to follow a well-balanced parenting approach, without being conservative, maintaining the codes of Qur’anic teachings and Sunnah.
Comprehensive Islamic Teaching
Islamic education needs to begin as soon as the child begins to understand words. Often, parents delay inculcating Islamic basics such as saying ‘Bismillah’, and greeting others with ‘Assalamoalaikum’. It is common to observe non-seriousness among children towards the fundamentals of Islam. They may feel not very keen learning about five times obligatory prayers, knowledge of fundamental concepts such as the five pillars of Islam (Tauhid i.e Oneness of Allah, Salah (prayer), Saum (fasting), Zakah (alms due), and Hajj (pilgrimage to the House of Allah). Often, a child’s Islamic coach is a school teacher, or a visiting Qur’an tutor, who simply delivers a prescribed curriculum within a short time period. Islam is a complete code of life and it can only be fully taught by parents who live and interact with children for most part of the day. It is also critical to limit biases and bid’ah from Islamic teaching in order to raise a proper Muslim kid. So, the real deal here is for parents to know that their own Islamic knowledge is comprehensive. Otherwise, they can always learn and deliver for the sake of their children and the future generation.
Give them time and love
The National Institute of Mental Health states that children mostly develop emotional disturbances and personality disorders during their childhood years. Dysfunctional children with deep-rooted personality and grooming issues are often a result of neglected parenting. Do not let your social, professional, and personal commitments lead to neglecting your children. Giving due time to your kids is the best justice you can do with them. The time and love you invest in your kids’ early years is bound to pay off in your old age.
An-Nu’man bin Bashir narrated that Prophet Muhammad salAllahu aleyhi wa’aleyhi wasallam (SAW) said: “Treat your children fairly, treat your children fairly.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 3687).
The adolescent years are when your children need you the most. Unfortunately, a large number of children spend most of their day with childcare providers instead of a parental figure or family member. This arrangement, or the absence of parents due to social commitments, creates the communication gap that cannot be abridged later. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) implied that expressing affection towards one’s children is a means of mercy. At that time, too, there were people who did not shower their children with affectionate gestures. Aisha (RA) narrated that “Some Bedouin people came to the Prophet (SAW) and said: ‘Do you kiss your children?’ He said: ‘Yes’. They said: ‘But we never kiss (our children)’. The Prophet (SAW) said: ‘What can I do if Allah has taken away mercy from you?’” (Sunan Ibn Majah 3665).
Keep children away from inappropriate behavior
Fighting in front of your children is a highly destructive practice. There can always be constructive arguments, but temper tantrums, screaming, rude remarks, and other snide comments should be reserved for private conversation. It will not be a far-fetched recommendation if I suggest that marriage / family counseling can actually contribute to good parenting. Besides domestic fights, there are other serious inappropriate practices that can transfer to children’s personality because they learn from parents. Think of them as contagious diseases that can deter the psychological soundness of a child. For instance, parents teach their kids to lie when they ask them to tell someone on the phone that they are not home. They teach fitnah when they make schemes about friends and family, planning revenge or get-backs. Kibr (pride) is transferred to children when they see parents showing off and belittling other. Jealousy is instilled in the hearts of children when parents are not thankful for what they have and are comparing themselves to others.
Arrange for quality entertainment
Modern day concept of entertainment through film, TV, games, and multimedia is to deliver information and recreation together. To provide a good balance of both to children, parents need to monitor the sources of entertainment like watchdogs. Not all cartoons and movies are a suitable watch for children when their minds are naive. You do not want to incorporate un-Islamic values such as dating, premarital physical relations, inappropriate interactions with non-mehrams, abusive language, and etc. into their minds before they can tell the difference between right and wrong. The ratings of Parental Guidance on multimedia content are there for a reason.
The best TV content is that which is educational and builds general knowledge, or that which is imaginative; e.g. fantasy fiction, and fosters creative thinking. I remember my parents controlling my TV and film choices by making the buying decisions for me when I was under 13 years of age. As a result, I found myself learning from child development programming such as Sesame Street and Treasure Attic. My creative imagination developed from watching BBC’s Chronicles of Narnia, The Adventures of Sindbad, and other child-friendly movies and TV shows. There were reality shows such as Rescue 911 and How’d They Do That that I watched with my father that helped foster my intellectual thinking.
A well-balanced Muslim child knows how to make sense of the social circle around him or her. Parents must work on teaching their children the value of human relationships. Islam is about being good to all of Allah’s creations, and human beings are the most important of it. A Muslim child must be familiarized with social institutions such as the masjid (mosque) and the community center. A child’s social training should begin from the basic greeting of “Assalamoalaikum wa rehmatullahi wa barakatahu” and go on to include the Sunnah of smiling, giving gifts, helping the needy, being respectful, and being forgiving. Al-Adab al-Mufrad is Imam al-Bukhari’s collection of 1,300 Hadith narrations on Islamic etiquette and social conduct which should be used by parents to inculcate the best of values in their child.
Strong, stable Muslim children are expected to be emotionally balanced. They should be taught how to manage their own emotions and those of others around them in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah. Their basic philosophy of life should be based on the concept of Qadr of Allah i.e. everything happens by the Will of Allah. “Insha’Allah” and “Masha’Allah” should be at the tips of their tongues, showing that they know that everything they plan and everything they wish for will come about only if Allah wills. Sabr (patience) and Shukr (gratitude) should be communicated through the stories from the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in order to develop stability in their emotions.
“Be kind to your children, and perfect their manners”
Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) instructed parents to polish the mannerisms and etiquette of their children while being kind to them. Anas bin Malik narrated that he said: “Be kind to your children, and perfect their manners. (Sunan Ibn Majah 3671). There is an implication of a system of discipline here which guides parents to be friendly instead of authoritative. Parents can maintain a rule book of do’s and don’ts for the children and design a gentle, but strict enough, system of punishment and rewards to reinforce good behavior and shun the bad.
Personal grooming is very essential; particularly in today’s world, because Muslims are expected to prove themselves before the world to correct their miscommunicated image. Our children step out into the world to send out messages about us as parents, leaders, and human beings. If they are unfamiliar with the basic etiquette of living, it would only reinforce the caveman’s image of Muslims.
Begin with yourself
Well-balanced children can only be raised if parents agree to restore the balance in their own lives. To teach a child, it is highly important to prove yourself as a role model. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was a fatherly figure to the Muslim Ummah and he taught by example. Parents, therefore, should follow his style of coaching when they attempt to raise well-balanced Muslim children.
Emotional disturbance http://nichcy.org/disability/specific/emotionaldisturbance#ref1
Sunan Ibn Majah 3671 http://sunnah.com/ibnmajah/33/15
Sunan Ibn Majah 3665 http://sunnah.com/ibnmajah/33/9
Al-Adab al-Mufrad http://www.kalamullah.com/adab-almufrad.html
….Where Practice Makes Perfect
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