Wake-Up Call For Parents
Out of all the hi-fi, over–hyped, glamorized, overpaid and stereotyped careers that make news today, peppered with extensive media attention such as red carpet awards, talk shows, exclusive interviews and photo shoots, the single most important and pivotal occupation a person – especially a woman – can have, is that of being a parent.
It is this behind–the–scenes, get–down–and–dirty, round–the–clock job that very few people can do well, and majority of those who do, receive little credit for that. Parenting is the most exhausting, fulfilling, demanding and satisfying role, responsibility and full–time job anyone can ever have. Whoever has become a parent would testify to its heady highs and, sadly, sometimes mortifying lows. The moment one sets eyes and holds in one’s arms a new life – a gift from Allah that is sent so miraculously, after months of waiting and anticipation – one changes forever. The joy one feels has no bounds. This new ‘baby’ life gives rise to new adjustments in all existing relationships, which change in order to accommodate the new arrival. As many people will tell you, they also change once they have a baby.
However, after a few years pass, there are some typical statements that parents of any age can be heard making: “Kids nowadays are so ungrateful…,” “In our time, we were much more disciplined and obedient…,” “We never shouted at our parents the way kids answer us back nowadays….,” and so on. I have hardly come across a parent who openly admits to having made a parenting mistake, e.g. saying something like, “Had I not been lax about my daily prayers when my children were young, perhaps they too, would be more regular in their prayers today,” or “I should not have scolded my daughter in front of her friends. I think she deserves an apology.”
More often than not, we find parents acting holier–than–thou and judgmental in front of their children, discussing their children’s weaknesses before friends and relatives, and detailing how difficult their children can make life for them. How often do we come across a parent who would readily apologize to their children for mistreating them or admit to being wrong in front of them?
Once a young person becomes a parent, it’s all about enforcing rules, dictating orders, and establishing discipline, which is admittedly a necessary part of good parenting, but you have to have some leeway thrown in too. The young parent forgets what it was like as a child, to be caught red–handed, or worse, to be scolded or punished. It seems as if, now that a couple have become parents, they can get away with treating their children however they like.
Remember, parents are very strong while their children are growing up. They control every aspect of a child’s life and have almost complete control over how they bring up their children. Apart from that all their past is buried and despite the mistakes parents commit against children, they still will consider them as role models while growing up. To say the least, being a parent is a position of extreme responsibility and accountability before Allah – one for which one can be called severely to be reprimanded, if one takes it lightly.
Here are a few tips that might help in good parenting In Sha Allah:
Apologize when we hurt the
Saying sorry for our mistakes will exalt your rank and teach our children to do the same. For example, saying to your toddler: “I’m sorry I yanked your arm so hard on the road. I was afraid of the cars passing by you and was just being careful. I did not mean to be so harsh, son,” would take a load off your back and make you feel better yourself.
Admit your faults
Children can help their parents a lot, especially when the parents are over fifty. The former are in touch with the latest trends and news. If the parent has a humble attitude instead of a “know–it–all” one, they can pave the way for positive learning on both sides.
More importantly, though, winning an argument should never be your goal just because you have rights over your children. Say “you are right” to them when they are. That way, you will be teaching them by example to give you the respect which you deserve as well.
Parents will be questioned on the Day of Judgement about their duties towards children. Just being conscious of this impending reality will enable us to gloss over our children’s mistakes and shortcomings. We will focus instead on our own method of upbringing and whether it will be accepted by Allah.
Seek Allah’s forgiveness
In Islam, any position of authority is a position of responsibility and accountability before Allah, including parenthood. The more pious a person is, the more he fears Allah regarding the high positions he occupies in this world. That is why our pious predecessors would – literally – run away from the posts of judges and power that were offered to them. Similarly, we must keep track of our shortcomings as human beings and seek Allah’s forgiveness for our mistakes.
It is obvious that after having gone through the pains and strains of raising children, parents are entitled to greater rights. This is Allah’s own compensation of providing worldly “perks” for this tough job. However, focusing on the rights we deserve from others, instead of the duties we owe others, is not the way of earnest Muslims. If our children respect us, obey us and take care of us, they are doing themselves a favor.
We should instead make our intentions of bringing up children for the sake of Allah, as an investment for the Aakhirah. We should just do our job of instilling Islamic values in them, by imparting Islamic knowledge to them and guiding them to live an Islamic life. After that, what they do is between them and Allah and you are essentially a valued consultant in their lives.
I once heard a very pious and honorable Muslim advise us: “From birth to age 13, be strict in disciplining them; from 14 to 20, be their friend; after they are 21, let them go.”