It may sound weird, but raising children begins with choosing a spouse. That is because raising children is a team effort between two people and who you choose, will have a big effect on how your children turn out.
A good example often given is that of seeds and land. If you want healthy trees and ripe fruits, you should search for fertile land. It would be a silly person to plant seeds in barren land or low quality soil and expect good results. The same applies for raising children.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Choose for your seeds (a good mother), for indeed breeding is a strategy.” [Reported by Ibn Maajah]
Growing up, a child spends the most amount of time with their mother. What better contentment for a father knowing that when he leaves his children for a few hours, that they are in safe hands and being raised upon Islamic principles. The Prophet (peace be upon him) praised a woman with good religious qualities, saying:
“Shall I not inform you of the best treasure that a man gathers – A righteous wife.” [Reported by Al-Haakim]
‘Umar bin Al-Khattaab was once asked about the rights of a son over his father, he responded: “That his father carefully chooses a mother for him, that he gives him a good name and that he teaches him the Qur’aan.”
Also, we should keep in mind that once we have chosen a spouse, that we continue to work with them to build their imaan and knowledge for this will directly benefit the children insha Allah.
Just a note that although this post was written from the father’s perspective, the same applies to women looking for father’s of their children.
Insha Allah, if we base our selection of a spouse on Religion and Character, this will be a significant stepping stone to the correct and proper upbringing of children.