Imagine the policeman knocking on your door in the middle of the day or night telling you that your son is been apprehended for stealing, drinking, or worse for murder.Imagine your child after his/ her maturity questioning, or denying, a principle of Islam, or worse, claiming atheism. Hence, it is every parent’s nightmare to see their children become someone they do not wish for. So, as a parent of four children myself, I know from first-hand experience that parenting is a very stressful and challenging task that unfortunately every parent will have to endurably embark on.
Sometimes, even after our best effort, our children do not turn to be the persons we hoped for. It is, therefore, vital to continuously remind ourselves with the importance of good parenting and the need to always acquire the skills that can help us along the long journey to a successful and effective way of parenting. Generally, there are many factors that can break or make the child, including, first and foremost, the relationship that exists between the parents themselves.
So, the objective of this post is, therefore, to give a road-map to the way of effective parenting by starting with the relationship that exists between husband and wife and between parents and the children themselves. However, before coming to that, I will try to define good parenting so as to establish some basic understanding of the co-relationship between the parents’ relation with each other and parents-children relation. In addition, it will highlight some very important steps that, despite all the challenges of the parenting, if they are followed, should make the job easier for parents. I hope this work will contribute to the betterment of the Muslim families,In shaa Allah.
What is Good Parenting?
As mentioned earlier, being a good parent does not necessarily mean your children will be good. So, it is important to always improve your knowledge of parenting. You should not follow others blindly. What works for A, might not necessarily work for B. Likewise, what worked for your parents when they were raising you, might not necessarily work for yourself in raising your own children. Hence, good parenting happens when a person creates for a child a stable, nurturing home environment, a positive role model, and plays a positive and active part in a child’s life. Good parents provide moral and spiritual guidance, set limits, and provide consequences for a child’s behavior. Good parents accept responsibility for the total development of the child and guide the child in making sound and healthy life decisions through open communication and mutual respect.
Spouse relationship is one of the first areas that parents should examine. Having healthy and comprehensive relationship with your wife at home, especially when your children are around, contributes a lot to the well-being of the family. It indirectly educates your children to love and respect others as they see their parents doing at home. The children usually grow up with the reflection of the family’s values and principles that are set by the parents at home. If these principles and values are founded with true love, respect, tolerance and dignity, the children will mostly inculcate them in their behaviors and carry forward with them in their lives. The lucky ones will straighten on these behaviors or expand them with the education they later get from school and from other experience in life. Unfortunately, the unlucky ones are often altered by bad influences from friends, pressure of some societal factors or bad choices they later make in life.
Patterns of Spousal Relationship
There are three patterns of relationship which determine the kind of relationship a person has with his wife: domination, lack of communication, and Justice and balanced relationship. This third pattern which is based on mutual respect is the closest to the Islamic view point.
Domination: This happens when one spouse dominates another. It often includes physical, mental or verbal abuses. Lack of consultation and manipulation are very common. It is more similar to the relation between slave and his master than the wife and husband. Unfortunately, these practices still exist in our community. Though the Qur’an has clearly prohibited it. Allah tells us through His Last Messenger (saws):
“O my servants! I have indeed prohibited injustice upon myself and made it prohibited among you, so do not oppress one another.” (Muslim)
“Avoid oppression, because oppression will result in deep darkness on the Day of Resurrection; and avoid stinginess, because stinginess has destroyed those who preceded you.” (Muslim)
Lack of communication:Sometimes, there is little, if any, communication taking place between wife and husband. The two individuals share the same house, but live in two different worlds. They avoid seeing each other, talking to each other, or even eating together. They feel like prisoners trapped in a marriage. Such a pattern is not in the interest of family well-being or success, and it can lead to divorce. Once it ends in divorce, only the children will suffer the most. Allah (swt) reminded us, He says:
“Treat them fairly. For if you dislike (one of) them then it might be that you dislike a thing but Allah has placed a lot of good in it.” (Qur’an 4:19)
And the Prophet (saws) said:
“Let not a believing man hate a believing woman; if he dislikes a characteristic in her, he would be pleased by other characteristics.” (Muslim)
Justice and balanced relationship: In this pattern, we see justice and balance in the relationship between husband and wife. Their times are spent together. Though they have their personal or individual time and space, but those do not affect the family one. They have mutual respect for one another, adequate communication always takes place. They consult each other on everything, pertaining to family matters. They are both prepared to compromise on things and accept the responsibility of their actions, both good and bad. Ultimately, all Islamic values and principles are observed. This pattern is more or less, the closest to that of Islam. The goal is to strive to get whatever it takes for the benefit of the family and the success of the children.
Allah (swt) says:
“The believers – men and women – they are patrons unto each other. They enjoin the virtuous, forbid evil, Pray, pay the alms and obey Allah and His Messenger. These – Allah will show them mercy. Surely, Allah is All‑mighty, All‑wise. Allah has promised the believing men and believing women gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein forever, and dwellings pleasant – in the Gardens of Eden. But the Good Pleasure of Allah is the greatest (of blessings). That, indeed, is the great triumph.” (Qur’an 9: 71-72)
Imam Ghazali said:
“A child is a trust in the hands of his parents. His mind is a precious diamond; if conditioned on good morals, it has the potential to become perfect. But if conditioned on evil ways, it can also become a beast, degrading itself.”
To make this easier, it is necessary to establish an Islamic environment by carefully selecting your neighborhood. We tend to give more thought or concern to how the house or an apartment looks but we give less concern to its location whether it is in safe environment or the neighbors we are going to share things with are good people or not. For the family to be secure, we need a stable and Islamically evolve environment. Not only should the neighborhood be safe, but the following should be kept in mind when selecting a house or an apartment:
Its closeness to Islamic Institutions, schools, recreational facilities, and public transportation. With working distance, children can have easy access to these facilities.
Establishment of an Islamic library in the house. A good family library should include a variety of materials which should provide the educational needs of all ages of family members. It should have books like Qur’an and Hadith, as well as other disciplines, such as science and mathematics. It should also have CDs and audiotapes with variety of topics, Anashid, Qur’anic recitations, lectures, and Khutbahs.
Vision and Goals
A vision can be described as consisting of lifetime goals that defines who you are and who you will become. When you have a vision for you and your family, it gives all the family a focus for channeling your time, energy and money. A vision is more far-reaching. It is achieved through setting specific goals which, if consistently acted upon, will result in achievement of the vision. A family should set goals. This can be done at two levels: personal goal and family goal. It is, however, a good practice to be more realistic in setting goals.
Goals are important because they serve to illuminate a path. Without them, we tend to waste time, and ultimately, find that we have not accomplished anything meaningful in our lives as the years go by. Prophet Muhammad (saws) said:
“Conduct yourself in this world as if you are here to stay forever. Prepare for eternity as if you had to die tomorrow.” (Bukhari)
So, get your family into the habit of setting realistic goals. Have them know that life is not just about enjoying and accumulating, but to have God pleased with them as well. The prophet (saws) said:
“If someone wants to know what position he enjoys in the eyes of God, he has only to look at what place he gives to God (in his life).” (Hakim)
Let family members put Pleasing God at the top of their list. Ensure goals are set in all areas of life so that you and members of your family grow in a comprehensive, rather than fragmented, fashion. The simplified example bellow illustrates how the goals are set.
The goals I am going to accomplish this year that will make significant and meaningful differences are: spiritual, personal, financial, health, household, recreation, career, family, community and friends. At the end of each year, review what has been accomplished, and set new goals for the next year. As we set new goals, remember that the most important goal is to have God pleased with us and to strive for paradise.
“And the life of this world is no more than an amusement and play. Surely, the Abode of the Hereafter, it indeed is the (true) life – only if they knew.” (Qur’an 29:64)
Method of Parenting
Generally, there are three methods of parenting and they can be categorized as follow:
Dictatorial: Here, we see what is called control-oriented. Parents make the rules. The children have minimal rights, they are told what to do. Adults work and dictate work to kids; often do not pray, but order kids to pray. The parents mix their own laws with God’s one. They teach one thing but do another thing. They dictate solutions to the problems.
Permissive: The parents give unnecessary freedom to the children. They are left by themselves and they can do whatever they like. They are not told what is right or wrong. There is a very little rule if any. No routines, adults go to work and the children have fun. Neither of them cares about prayer. The children sometimes shout and say abusive words to their parents.
Middle way: The middle way is where; Parents give limited freedom to the children. They are shown what they should and shouldn’t do. They are thought to know their rights and their responsibilities as an individual as well as a member of family. The rules and routines are for whole family members. They pray together. God’s laws and rules are applied. Parents and the children live by what they say. Differences are mutually resolved. This method works better and is the closest to the Islamic approach. It balances the rights and the responsibilities, less confrontation and where necessary, the same rules apply to both the child (ren) as well as parents.