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Battle of the Wills: First Five Steps to Positive Parenting

By Aisha Al Hajjar, AMANI

HAVING babies is blessing from Allah (SWT). Raising them, however, is a serious charge of responsibility.

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar:

Allah’s Apostle said, “Surely! Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges: The Imam (ruler) of the people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects; a man is the guardian of his family (household) and is responsible for his subjects; a woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and of his children and is responsible for them; and the slave of a man is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it. Surely, everyone of you is a guardian and responsible for his charges.” (Al-Bukhari, Book 89: Volume 9, Book 89, Number 252)

There is no doubt that parenting is a full-time responsibility which takes a lot of care and patience. But we all lose it on occasion; some parents so often, that losing their patience becomes the norm, audtho’billah. Many times parents inadvertently set up a system of inefficient discipline habits that turn the home into a place of battle, battle of the wills.

As a mother of eight and a former foster parent of dozens, I’m often asked about parenting. Although it’s been quite some time, I also used to facilitate positive parenting classes and lecture on the topic of positive discipline for foster parents and social workers back in the States.

The trouble is that most of us think of discipline as punishment rather than training for the future. Rarely do we stop to evaluate our parenting goals or to discover what motivates our children. However, it’s never too early or late to start.

Looking at the big picture, most Muslim parents will agree that we want our kids to grow up to be practicing believers in Allah (SWT) who can function in society and provide for themselves and their families, insha’Allah. But how do we reach that goal when there are so many insignificant daily battles getting in the way?

The most common complaints from parents stem from the children’s lack of motivation and responsibility with household chores and study (school and/or deen), as well as overall respect of parental authority. So let’s look at the steps you can take as parents to get things on track:

CHANGE: Realize that nothing in our homes will change until we, as parents, take steps to change. However we are functioning (or not functioning) will continue until we commit to making the effort to improve it.

UNITE: We must commit to united parenting. Parenting in a two-parent household takes teamwork. Both parents must be on the same page and absolutely must agree not to undermine each other. Parenting style must be worked out away from the children and any disagreements about parenting issues must be discussed in private and never in the heat of a moment or in front of the children. The parents must have a united front or the entire family unit will not function well.

LOOK FORWARD: Avoid blame and beating yourselves up over what’s past. If you feel your parenting has been ineffective or you have been parenting out of anger, don’t lament. It’s never too late to make positive changes. Just as money you find crumpled up on the floor still has its value, so do our children. Regardless of how we’ve “messed up” ‘til now, our children still have value and are worth the effort to pick up and move forward to better days.

CONSISTENCY: I cannot say enough that consistency is the key to parenting. If you find your kids don’t listen or respect when you say, “No,” I’d venture to bet that you’ve been an inconsistent parent. It takes absolute resolve, but when you make a determination about something; do not waiver unless there is valid reason to do so. A child whining and driving you nuts is NOT a valid reason to give in. In fact, if you or your spouse is guilty of doing this, you are guilty of creating a whiny brat that never respects your word, astagfirullah.

POSITIVE DISCIPLINE: Begin to think of discipline as training for the future rather than punishment of the past. We do this by determining our parenting goals, children’s motivators, and looking for ways to use those motivators to attain the goals we want to achieve.

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