Author: Hani al-ʿAbd al-Qadir
The Messenger of Allāh (ṣallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said: “It is sufficient of a sin for a man to neglect those of whom he is responsible for taking care.”
Take note of what ibn al-Qayyim said in his book Tuḥfat’l Mawdūd bi Aḥkām’l Mawlūd: “…and the moral decay that has befell upon many children is from their parents and their neglectfulness [towards them].”
As for Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghāzalī, he said: “Children are precious gems.” We would say to him: You have spoken to the truth in saying that children are precious gems, O Abu Ḥāmid, but it is regretful that many parents are like blacksmiths with these gems!
I am amazed at the one who, full of self-confidence, says: “My children are the most precious of people to me,” yet reserves tasteful speech and good-humoured behaviour for strangers and does not give any of it to his own children, even though they take more precedence when it comes to gentle speech and mutual courtesy.
Perhaps these individuals have become preoccupied with the difficulties and routines of tarbiyah over its sweetness and delight. These are difficulties and pains that must be experienced. However, in spite of those difficulties and their abundance, they should not affect our relationship with our children. They are like the pains of childbirth! Have you ever seen a mother hit her newborn because it caused her a lot of pain?! Impossible. Rather, she would hug him out of contentment, happiness and complete delight in spite suffering so much pain. Just like that, in tarbiyah it is incumbent upon us to separate between our difficulties caused by children and dealing with them as individuals. We must also search for a means of pleasure in their tarbiyah. It is not possible to achieve this pleasure until we come down to their level. This skill of coming down to their level is a unique characteristic of grandparents when dealing with their grandchildren. They come down to the level of the child and talk to them about things that make the child happy. They deal with the child as if he’s the holder of the truth in this life, and that his requests are attainable so long as they are reasonable. There is no doubt that children love their grandparents, but they await these gentle dealings and special relationship from us, the parents.
The image of a young, strong, Allāh-fearing father still remains as the example that a son loves to see, exemplify, and learn from in how to lead the household, and take of a spouse and children in the future.
The image of a young, elegant, righteous, shy, and chaste woman still remains as the example that a daughter loves to attach herself to, exemplify, and learn from to be a wife and mother herself.
The opportunity is still available for everyone to change their relationship with their children – a change that can be a positive overturn for you and them. This could be in mutual understanding, dialogue with them, respecting their individual personalities, or accepting their faults and shortcomings. Therefore: understanding, respect, and acceptance are the keys to a positive relationship with your child.
This is all possible to actualize if we change the perspective of our relationship with our children to that of a relationship of friends in which dialogue and mutual understanding prevail. If we make the relationship to that of a ruler with those he rules over, it will be overcome by commands and prohibitions. There is no doubt here that its positive effect will be small.
From the signs of our success in tarbiyah is our success in having a dialogue with our children in a way that pleases the parent and child. However, it is with great sorrow that we commit mistakes that cause us to fail in having dialogue with our children. This is why the topic of this article is Why Do We Fail When Trying To Speak To Our Children?
The first mistake: The behaviour of “I don’t want to hear anything.”
The second mistake: The behaviour of an examiner or investigator.
The first mistake is when we say or produce actions which, in the end, mean: “I don’t want to hear anything from you, son.” This is similar to such phrases as “Get away,” “Later, later,” “I don’t have time for you,” “Go to your father,” “Go to your mother,” “Enough! Enough!”, in addition to other gestures that carry the same meaning. This could entail purposely not looking at them or being pre-occupied with something to avoid their child. Notice when a young child moves around their hands to get the attention of his mother as if he’s saying “Mum, please listen to me…”; or he might get up and stand in front of her to get her attention that way. At this stage in their young life they are reminding us of their right upon us, but in the future they won’t do such. They will understand that their mother, for example, will enjoy giving more attention to her friend on the phone or any visitor that may come to the house. In fact, this could even extend to non-living matter such as the television! From this, he may understand that she does not want to listen to him and that everything is important except him.
After reading this article, if your child comes to you to express himself, his feelings, or ideas, show complete concern to what he is saying. This attentive listening and show of importance to him is a sign of you understanding him, respecting him, and accepting him. This is from the essential, basic needs of the relationship: understanding, respect, and acceptance. Whatever he has to say at that very moment is more important than whatever is occupying your mind. If you are truly busy, my dear father and mother, give your son or daughter a set appointment. For example you may say: “I’m really busy right now, but after fifteen minutes I can listen to what you have to say.” And truthfully show concern for that appointment with him! We need to exchange our words and body language that mean: “I don’t want to hear anything from you” with words and body language that mean: “I love you, love to hear from you, and sympathise with your feelings.”
Some actions are especially needed if he is feeling worried or feeling worthless such as a full hug, side hug, or hug until we make them feel confident. One of the parents should be by their child’s side while standing, similar to the way those following [the imām] in prayer stand. Or, they could be sitting and the mother or father could extend one arm behind the child’s back or across their child’s shoulders, and the other arm could be placed upon the child’s arm or other shoulder, thereby creating an intimate encounter and sense of closeness. This could be in addition to kissing them, caressing their shoulders, hugging their head, touching their face, or holding their hand and placing it in the hand of the mother or father.
When Ruqayyah, the daughter of the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) passed away, Fāṭimah (raḍiAllāhu ʿanhā) sat next to the Prophet (ṣallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and began to cry. The Messenger of Allāh (ṣallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) wiped away her tears with a part of his garment and showed his physical, gentle sympathy towards her.
In another instance, ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib, Fāṭimah, and al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusayn (raḍiAllāhu ʿanhum) once visited the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and he placed al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusayn on his lap to kiss them, and used one arm to hug and kiss ʿAlī, and the other to hug and kiss Fāṭimah.
If adults are in need of friendly and comfortable body language, then what do you think for a small child?! There are many instances when the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would hug and kiss young children.
Our discussion in this article was in regards to remedying the first mistake in speaking with our children, which we summarised with: “I don’t want to hear anything.” As for the remedy of the second problem in dialogue, which is the behavior of an investigator, that is something we will speak of in another article, Allāh willing.
May Allāh protect you all.
….Where Practice Makes Perfect
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