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The Golden Rules for Raising My Child

Questioner

A (28-female-US)

Reply Date

Feb 15, 2018

Question

As salamu 'alaykum dear counselors. I have been reading several parenting books – for example How to Behave So Your Pre-schooler Will Too, When Your Kids Push Your Buttons, Giving the Love That Heals, Children: The Challenge – all written by non-Muslims. These books helped me very much to deal with my strong willed and energetic daughter. I especially like the aspect that our children are our teachers, since they point the way to our weaknesses, through their behavior; thus giving us the chance to develop ourselves. All of the books that I have been reading, emphasize how important it is not to confuse the individuality and responsibility of the child with the parent. Their point is that we can only have a healthy connection between child and parent, when we don't expect them to be an extension of ourselves, but instead accept that they are their own persons. Although I like this view, and it makes sense to me, I am wondering if this is Islamically suitable or if it is a Western philosophy; since individualism doesn't go extend so far into Islam as it does in the West. Maybe you could recommend a valuable parenting book to me that is written by a Muslim. Unfortunately, I can't afford to buy many books, that's why I get most of my books from the public library. I have one important question: When is it time to and how exactly do we teach our children obedience towards their parents? Does it make sense to forbid them when they are at the age ( two years of age) of being very willful to say "No" when asked by their parents to do something? Thank you very much in advance for your answer. May Allah reward you without limits. Wa salam

Counselor

Answer


Raising

In this counseling answer:

“Deprivation of something they like makes a good way to reinforce the lesson you are trying to teach, but punishment without her understanding only teaches her that you do not love her (in her mind). If there is a series of bad habits that your daughter is developing, be merciful and try to change one bad habit at a time. To expect your daughter to change all her bad habits, will make her feel that she can not do anything right, so why bother trying. ”


As salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

Once upon a time, we learnt from our parents how to raise our children, because that was our only recourse.  Al hamdu lillah, you have explored the issue of parenting for yourself, and found many treasures of understanding that today, tend to get lost especially when the negative aspects of culture predominates over Islamic parenting. Those treasures of understanding are a part of natural parenting as much as Islam is based on the natural laws that governs all creation , so maybe the gap in not that far as you may think. As always, it is a matter of interpretation and understanding.

You said that there is “… a healthy connection between child and parent, when we don’t expect them to be an extension of ourselves, but instead accept that they are their own persons”.

This does not differ from what Islam teaches us:

Prophet Muhammad said: “He who does not respect our elder, or is not merciful to the young, or does not feel indebted to the scholars, is not of my Nation” (Abu Dawud, No.4921, and Al-Tirmidhi, No.1925)

Mercy and compassion are essential components of building a Muslim society, and it starts with how we raise our child, who after all are the future. When we only expect obedience, we treat our children as extensions of ourselves to do our bidding, and to be who we want them to be. Their character, their feelings, and their needs are denied, because we are essentially treating them like slaves, which in Islam, was not how slaves were treated in the time of Prophet Muhammad, but is how slaves have been treated by the secular world. By showing respect to our children, and with that the compassion of mercy, we develop emotional ties, which all humans needs regardless of age, and in so doing we establish a loving, caring relationship that is reciprocated. In this way, the child learns, love, learns compassion, learns to give and learns to listen, because we too listen to them.

Anas (RAA) tells us: “I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). His son Ibrahim was in the care of a wet-nurse in the hills around Madinah. He would go there, and we would go with him, and he would enter the house, pick up his son and kiss him, then come back”(Muslim, 15: 75)

You learnt: “… our children are our teachers, since they point the way to our weaknesses, through their behavior; thus giving us the chance to develop ourselves”.

 

All human relations provide an opportunity to learn about ourselves because each person is like a reflection. Given that how a person relates to you is not always determined by you, but maybe due to someone or something else, but still there is a certain level of give and take in the interaction between two people. This is even more so with children, because they have come into the world through the mother , and are being raised in a social environment that will have the strongest influence on that child’s perception of self and perception of human relations. Therefore how a child relates to you, is much more related to you and the environment that you have helped to create. If you demonstrate for example:

  • Love as a convenience
  • Backbiting
  • Straightforwardness
  • Keepiing promises
  • Being lazy
  • Compassion
  • Inattentiveness

Then these are the qualities that a child will learn from you.

When a child realizes that they can always have their own way, then naturally they will make more and more demands.

“Best behaviour is that which you yourself start to practice.” ‘Ali ibn A bu Talib

When it comes to individualism, there is a difference between allowing a person to develop and individualism. Individualism is totally selfish, seeking ones own needs first and last. There is no relation to a healthy social grouping and there is  no sense of responsibility to others unless they think and act as one does. In this case, what  really happens is that the person expects others to not have a mind, opinions, thoughts, of their own, because there is no real mutual reciprocity, just a series of allegiances that serve a particular purpose. the irony is that, then the result falls under the law of opposites whereby when one goes too far, the opposite happens.
A child who is nurtured amidst faith and with that faith, mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual love, and mutual compassion will naturally develop a sense of belonging as well as a sense of self. They will develop skills and abilities according to their inclination. With a sense of belonging, comes taqlid, emulation, and in sha ‘Allah, the child will have good role models to emulate.

A two-year old child will in general:

-Not know their own mind. They think their parents knows how they think, what they want, what their needs are – “So how come you do not know what I need?”

-Find difficulty in distinguishing their imaginary world from reality

-May think of the inanimate world in the same way as the animate world – so T.V. viewing should be limited.

-Not understand that all their bodily parts belong to them, so may become frightened if they see a broken leg etc.

-Not understand another’s point of view and thinks that everybody thinks the same as they do.

When your child does not accept “No” for an answer.

-Distraction is the best policy

-Do not lose your temper

-Do not bribe with sweets – your child will learn deception and manipulation

-Do not give in – otherwise your child will  become more demanding.

-Ignore all the fuss – your child is playing on the attention she can get

Once your daughter can see that she is not getting the attention she was wrongly demanding, then try to explain simply why it is wrong, acknowledging that a two year old in general has a short attention span. Deprivation of something they like makes a good way to reinforce the lesson you are trying to teach, but punishment without her understanding only teaches her that you do not love her (in her mind). If there is a series of bad habits that your daughter is developing, be merciful and try to change one bad habit at a time. To expect your daughter to change all her bad habits, will make her feel that she can not do anything right, so why bother trying. And most importantly, do not punish her when she has done something wrong without intention.

“Do not force a child to behave like you, for surely, they have been created for a time which is different to your time” ‘Ali Ibn ‘Abu Talib.


A Good book on Islamic Parenting:
Islamic Parenting in the West by Drs. Ekram Beshir and Mohammed Rida Beshir




About Hwaa Irfan

Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.

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