By S Basher
When it comes to how we have been brought up, do any of us think “inshallah when I have children of my own I would do things a bit differently to the way my parents did”? Probably yes, but why do most of us not think about how the Prophet (PBUH) used to parent as definitely there can be no better example.
Now most of us may know of ‘Super Nanny’ but put her aside, however good her methods can be, using the methodology of the Prophetic upbringing we are able to obtain principles that parents can use to create the foundation to help bring up our children with the correct Islamic teaching and grounding.
Principles for parents:
Lead by example
Children view their parents as leaders and therefore emulate their behaviour. You’d be surprised how much children pick up from their parents and thus become a reflection of his/her parents.
Abu Hurayrah narrated, Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said “Every child is born in a state of fitrah; the parents will turn their child into a Jew, Christain, or a Majus.” (Muslim)
Wisdom & creating opportunities for learning
Look at all situations and judge whether they are an opportunity to teach your children lessons or should be ignored as there are no benefits from them. A smart parent chooses the appropriate time to educate their child. For example, at meal times for table manners and patience at times of illness.
Fairness and equality & Relate to them
If the children are the same age then this is usually easier to follow but with children at different age ranges this is a bit more complicated. This is why the parent’s needs to be fair to each child based on their needs. Spend equal amounts of time with each child individually to truly understand what they need and make sure that no specific child receives special treatment.
By finding out their needs you are clarifying and addressing their needs accordingly breaking things down based on their ages which facilitates in you relating to them.
Appreciation and open communication
Give your child the chance to speak, make decisions and appreciate their opinion. Make them feel and know that they can discuss anything with you without knowing that topic will be closed off or judged for the way they think.
Du’a is among the pillars that parents should adhere to as it is accepted by Allah. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said; Three supplications will not be rejected (by Allah (SWT)), the supplication of the parent for his child, the supplication of the one who is fasting, and the supplication of the traveler. [al-Bayhaqi, at-Tirmidhi – Sahih]
Exemplar of obedience and benevolence
This can only be accomplished by providing a righteous environment and company.
Avoiding too much blaming and feeling of guilt
Do not constantly ask your child why they did or did not do something as they will feel at fault and question everything that they do.
Children love stories so rather than telling them of fairy tales and super hero stories why not tell them of stories of the Prophets and stories from the Quran. There are no better lessons your children can hear but also this gives them bases of Islamic studies from a younger age and prepares them for deeper Islamic studies for when they are older.
Direct and open communication
Children get confused very easily therefore speak to your children in a language they understand and be clear and direct as possible.
Celebrate the positive & Reward
Do not just pick on the wrong things your child my do and ignore anything positive they do. This can negatively affect your relationship with your child and make your child no longer want to do anything positive as he/she will not be acknowledge for it. Therefore make sure you recognise, encourage and praise anything positive your child does so that they keep doing it and this will also prepare them to be social and expand their horizon.
Competitions can be a healthy technique in motivating children towards goodness. Never forget to acknowledge the good in them no matter how small.
Companionship & Be a friend & confidante
Try to spend regular one-to-one time with each child individually if possible as this will tighten your relationship with your child and you become more than a parent to them, you also become a friend.
A parent should try and be their child’s closest friend; smile in their face, joke with them, be affectionate towards them, meet with open arms, eat with them and always try to share a common hobbies
Delegate responsibilities to your children by letting them lead the prayers and give relevant halaqahs (informal religious talks), and give them a sense of financial responsibility. Also, appropriate house chores for their age and helping their brothers and sisters which will teach them team work.
Use term of endearments
Have a secret between you and each of your children and this way they feel special and entrusted and this strengths the bond that you have with them.
Give the satisfaction of winning
Once in a while, let them win and get their way. Let them pick the game or film.
Train them towards the obedience of fara’id –
Parents should work towards training their children in the obligatory acts of worship while they are still young so that it isn’t too difficult for them when they become obligatory on them. Through this the command for children to pray at seven would not be difficult to fulfil. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said “Teach a boy Salah (the prayer) when he attains the age of seven years, and punish him (if he does not offer it) at ten” [Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi].
Hope and fear
Allah uses this method to create hope in us for Heaven and fear of Hell. This is what we need to do when upbringing our children but making sure that we have a moderate level as we do not want our children to fear us and thus not come to us when they need our support or see us as week and can just do as they please without the fear of punishment.
The most important aspect of these principles are that the parents should start implementing these from when their children are of a very young age as they would have grown up with them and know what to expect. Children are fast learners and too many changes can confuse them and make them think that their parents don’t actually know what they are doing which is when they can start taking advantage of the situation. When your child is a teenager it will be difficult to suddenly implement these principles as your relationship could already be on rocky waters.