“If what we do today doesn’t impact this world a hundred years down the road, then it is simply a waste of time!” Suleman Ahmer, CEO “Timelenders”.
This rings true for parents, especially when we consider our parenting priorities and what we envision for our children. Are we simply feeding and schooling a child to become another ordinary but self-centered individual, who would depart from this world having contributed nothing to it? Or, are we moulding our kids into extraordinary individuals, who will impact the Ummah with such dynamism that its echo will sound hundred years from now?
How many of us even know what we want out of our own lives? Planning is a Sunnah of the Prophet (sa). Allah (swt) put in six days to meticulously create the heavens and the earth. What should be a meaningful life for us? Suleman Ahmer offers four key elements.
There is no wrong or right definition of the word ‘vision’, as every person perceives it differently. However, it means ‘the picture of the future we want to see’. A long-term sound vision is a life which has clarity and correctness.
A parent might wish for his/her child to grow up to be a good Muslim. However, although correct, this vision is unclear. Do they want him/her to serve the Ummah, while pursuing religious education? The child may become a Khateeb (speaker), an Imam, a Mufakkir (thinker or scholar), or a Mufti (religious law expert), etc. Likewise, do the parents wish for him to become a doctor, a lawyer, an economist and serve Islam and Muslims in these spheres of life? We should try to balance out what we want for the lives of our children with what they want to become. If we want him to become an engineer, while he would prefer to be a writer, there would be a clash of visions the parents have and the child has. Parents should be facilitators, helping their children to move towards their own goals. It is also the responsibility of parents to train their children such that it makes them wish for worthy goals.
A clear vision helps parents prepare and train their children towards their ultimate goal. For instance, a father wanted his son to offer Dawah at an American island. He taught him Deeni (Islamic/religious) knowledge and Dunyawi (worldly) knowledge. Plus, he made him learn how to swim, in case his son ever needed to escape in order to save his or others’ lives.
With a clear vision, you will eliminate all time wasters from your kid’s life. You will not fall prey to popular trends of the society by shifting your kid’s goal and confusing and frustrating him, too.
Imam Abdullah Johini’s mother admired Imam Sudais for his melodious Qirat and his other religious accolades. It was the power of this vision that helped Johini’s mother to train and educate him to become an Imam at Masjid-ul-Haram for five years.
Importantly, one should not be afraid to think big. With consistent efforts and sincere prayers, much can be achieved. And if one falls short, he still learns and acquires something worthwhile on his way. The journey towards learning is never futile.
Strategic time management
This has been defined as our ability to prioritise our lives in the light of a long-term vision and then to drive these priorities with Azm (determination).
A farmer tills the ground and weeds out any extra growth that could hamper a thriving harvest. Similarly, in our lives, time wasters are like the weeds that eat away the good energy and food of plants. The plants then eventually wilt. Once we have a sound vision defined for our children, we should constantly check how their daily activities will take them closer to their vision.
As parents, we have to help children choose and utilise important time slots of the day for critical actions. For example, the time preceding Fajr is immensely productive for memorizing, focusing, and planning. If we waste it through sleeping, it is a grave loss for them. Similarly, early noon is suitable to meet people for discussions, negotiations, execution, etc. If they plop before the screen and kill hours, it is an irreparable loss for them.
We must also spend quality time with our children. That doesn’t mean lecturing them, tutoring them, serving them their meals and seeing to their other necessities. It simply means doing what the child wants us to do with him/her. It could mean playing cricket, having a chat or enjoying an ice cream cone.
This means the knowledge, skills and abilities that are required for our vision. For example, a vision to scale Mount Everest requires a minimum set of skills, for instance, development of a physically strong body and specific muscles, knowledge to read weather changes, and ability to brave harsh climatic conditions and survive accidents, among others.
Dreaming and wishing is only the first step. It must be followed by an honest assessment of self and circumstances. What are our strengths, weaknesses and our developmental opportunities? Hence, a humongous task is broken into small chunks initially and progress is monitored. This gradually builds competence and trains children for their future responsibilities and challenges.
It is defined as the ability to share our vision with others and to inspire and facilitate others in pursuing the shared vision.
An excellent way to develop leadership skills among children is to make them in charge of chores at home. They can become care-takers for younger or dependant siblings or older grandparents.
A family had an autistic boy and a normal girl. The boy was approximately eight years older than his sister. Once the girl was around fifteen years of age, she was trained by her parents to look after her much older brother by giving him his daily medicines, helping him shower and change, serving him meals, taking him for walks, playing games with him, etc. This training helped her mature, think sensitively, plan ahead, execute with diligence and empower others, too. She eventually rose to become an entrepreneur for a small company. The training to assume the future role as a leader began at home.
As parents, we are the shepherds for our flock. No school, college, tutor, trends or strangers can decide for our children. We do. And it does require Taqwa (God consciousness). Our children are not gifts from Allah (swt). They are a trust (Amanah) handed over to parents for a specific time period, after which we will have to return them to our Lord (swt) and be accountable for their conduct. It is the most pivotal job we have been entrusted with in this world. It requires patience and sacrifice on our part.
Will we train and enable our children to live a meaningful life or are we just going to let them graze the meadows, while they are here in this world and be gone one day, long forgotten?
Adapted from a workshop conducted at “Fajr Academy”, Karachi.