Based on an Islamic Online University Webinar
When children crib and cry we can tackle them in the following steps:
Step 1: Conflict
Every tantrum starts with a conflict. The moment the conflict appears in front of you, how you deal with the conflict shows what kind of connection you have and the result that you will get.
In life we get a lot of conflicts. How do you deal with those conflicts? Do you panic when a conflict comes? Or are you more relaxed when a conflict comes? In psychology, we call it either you ‘flight or fight’. Hopefully with children we don’t have to do either of the two. We have to reason between the two; we’ll not fight and not run away from them; rather, we’ll face the conflict.
One of the most important rules in parenting is that children do not hear, they see. You can tell a child hundred times do not do this, do not speak on the mobile late, and do not chat late but if they see you calling someone late at night, they see you doing the same thing; hence, they will not obey you.
Once there was a huge earthquake in Japan and as the earthquake spread people started starving. Grocery stores closed down and there was a shortage of food. There was one juice dispenser company with different kind of juices. It was dispensing one juice at a time. There was a big queue at that juice company headquarters for everybody to take a juice. There was an American manager in this Japanese firm and he also was in the juice queue. Every Japanese could have taken more than once juice on their turn but they took one juice and went back to end of line to take another one, just so that everyone gets an equal opportunity. This manager was tired and hungry. When his turn came, he got four juices immediately and he went home. Nobody said a word to the manager. A few days later, word spread that the manager was not a man of integrity. He could not lead a team, because the people did not accept a leader like him.
Are we the kind of leaders as that manager was? Or are we like the people who are waiting in the queue to show our children? It is not talk the talk, it is walk the talk.
Conflict usually happens when we say something but we do not implement it. This is one lesson that Luqman Hakeem gave to his son: “And do not turn your cheek (in contempt) toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah (swt) does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.” (Luqman 31:18) He is admonishing his son; do not turn away from people and do not walk in arrogance. How you walk shows what kind of a person you are.
Where are our manners? Abdullah ibn Mubarak said twelve hundred years back that today the Ummah needs more Akhlaq than Ilm. What would he have said if he was alive today? It is our Akhlaq that the children are watching. It’s the way you are driving, not the lessons that you give while you are driving. While I was living in Dubai, a Sheikh once said that Islam will spread faster if we drive a little nicer. Children are noticing the way you flash lights and honk people from behind. Don’t ever think that they are not noticing.
Are you a Tiger Mom?
A tiger mom is someone who is very clear or strict with the child’s upbringing. She wants him to succeed all the time. She wants him to always achieve first position. She wants him to take part in the painting competition, the debate competition, become a Hafidh of Quran – in short, she wants him to be the best at everything. She expects everything from one child – which is why we say please have more children! If you have any of the traits of a tiger mom, please reflect your position. Our children are not trophies. “Oh you know my child knows Surah Fajr or Surah Naba.” Please don’t treat your child like a trophy in front of others; just let them be what they are. This method is not bad all the time, but we don’t want them to be performing monkeys.
The opposite of a tiger mom is a helicopter parent, who is always hovering over a child. You choose their clothes, you choose their toys etc. A tiger mom lets the child take responsibility. We do not want to become roaring, growling tiger moms and make our home an emotional jail, as a child would put it. There needs to be a balance between the two.
There is a great parenting tip in how Muhammad (sa) dealt with young Sahabah. He was not their father but far greater than a father. When the treaty of Hudaibiyah was about to be signed with Suhail bin Amr, Abu Jandal (rta) came running in chains. He escaped from Makkah somehow, from the jail and torture and came running to the best refuge. Now this was the greatest test that a leader can have.
Abu Jandal’s hands were tied. He was still crying, “Please save me. Will you leave me alone?”
Suhail (also the father of Abu Jandal) said: “He is the first example we’ll take and I’ll take him back with me.”
The Prophet (sa) said: “But the treaty has not been signed yet.”
Suhail refused saying: “We’ve agreed to the terms.”
All the Sahabah were looking at him. The Prophet (sa) told him we’ve now negotiated and you’ll have to go back.
Such a difficult decision it was! This is walk the talk. It had a lesson not only for Abu Jandal or the Sahabah but even for the Mushrikeen. Do you not believe in a man who’s keeping his word even for a companion? Did Abu Jandal’s Iman increase or decrease? It only increased. If your children see that their father stands up for principles, they’ll only love you more.
Step 2: Connection
Now that you’ve resolved the conflict, how do you go back and make a connection with your child? In the next verse, after the arrogant part, Luqman Hakeem tells how to make a connection. “And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.” (Luqman 31:19)
Please follow the middle path and whenever you see a conflict happening; do not be arrogant. Let’s become a parent of the middle path. The child cannot go out and buy everyday everything that he wants; yet it’s not that none of his demands are fulfilled.
Luqman did not say that your voice is like a donkey. He is not pointing to the child directly. When you shout, children get scared. For example, we say, “You are lazy.” That’s a big thing to say. Instead make Dua that your child is protected from it. Who gave you the right to say so? Our language is not like that of Luqman. He truly was Hakeem.
Fathers need to spend time with their children. A Dolphin dad is a father who is helpful; he is a father who is playful and wants to raise happy children. These are the fathers we are looking for.
Fathers are directly involved in character building. They should use the correct language. The first words that Luqman Hakeem used were “Ya Bunayya: O my Son!” Address them in the best manner.
When you tell your children how beautiful their names are, they feel good. We give them such good names but do we ever tell them what their names mean?
Do not raise your voice. Do not compare your child to a stupid donkey, etc. Become a dolphin dad and not a complaining dad.
At the end of the day, our mission as parents is as follows:
“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell)…” (At-Tahrim 66:6)