Before we become parents, I don’t think we really consider how we are going to do it, how we are going to parent. It’s more often than not an assumption that we will just know how to. Rarely do we consider the pitfalls and plan on how to manage them.
It is once we are parents, and usually when the problems arise, that we research how to overcome them. Or we muddle through somehow.
Here are three common mistakes that we as Muslim parents tend to make and how we might resolve them.
1 – We Forget That Our Children Are Not Ours
We believe that our children belong to us. Which means that we see them as extensions of ourselves rather than what they truly are, which is an amanah (trust, gift) from Allah. And that they are a part of the testing we will encounter in this world:
“And know that your properties and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a great reward.” (Al Anfal: 28)
“Your wealth and your children are but a trial, and Allah has with Him a great reward.” (At Taghabun: 15)
When we forget that they are not really ours we try to control them as we would if something were a part of us. We see them as part of our reputation and believe, depending upon what they do and how they behave, others will see us as good or bad. The effort and struggle to parent well is ours but the outcome is not.
Recognise that your child is an individual that Allah has created and handed to you to rear. Keep in mind this quote by Angela Schwindt, a homeschooling mom: “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” Which reminds us that we may parent our children but Allah has granted our children to us to teach us something we would otherwise not be able to learn.
2 – We Assume We Know Them
This assumption means that we do not then spend time getting to know them. And when they don’t behave in the way we think they ought to be we become lost: ‘How did this happen? This is not my child! …’ If we make parenting mistake #1 and believe that they are an extension of ourselves we almost always then fall into this mistake too.
See that your children are separate beings. They are not you. They are not their siblings. Or anyone else. They are their own selves. Perfectly created: “We have indeed created man in the best of moulds.” (At Teen: 4). Take the time to get to know them. Spend time with them. Play with them. Have conversations with them. As they grow, let them take on responsibilities appropriate to their age. Watch and observe them in wonder. Reflect upon how they have grown and matured.
3 – We Try To Make Them What We Want Them To Be
Due to mistakes #1 and #2 we try to make them into what they are often not. Or we try to live through them because we feel unfulfilled in some way or other and we have regrets at perhaps not achieving what we think we were capable of.
In the absence of reflection, history often repeats itself…Research has clearly demonstrated that our children’s attachment to us will be influenced by what happened to us when we were young if we do not come to process and understand those experiences.”Dan Siegel
As parents it is not our role to make our children into something. We are here to facilitate their journey into becoming who they are, who they are meant to be. And they are here to help us recognise what we contain within ourselves so that we may address it and harness it. We need to heal and they need to grow.
Do the work to heal yourself and insha’Allah the rest will fall into place. Take an interest in your child, as Peter Jackson has explained: “It’s one thing to support your kid, but if you have an interest in what your child is doing, it makes it a whole lot easier.”
I have noticed a lot of adults who were moulded by parents into what they want – usually lawyers, doctors, or similar have returned to childhood dreams of being artists or beauticians or writers. Or they failed to conform initially.
We cannot make people into who they are not. And accepting our child for who they are makes life so much easier. Helping them figure that out can be a lot of fun and create beautiful memories.
If we can avoid or remedy these three mistakes in our parenting we will, bi’idhnillah, have strong resilient children and there will be less broken adults that require repair, insha’Allah:
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”Fredrick Douglas