Creating Win-win Agreements with our Children

27 win win agreements

There is a beautiful reality that we never reflect upon. It’s a message from the Creator (swt) for His creation: “Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit, and whoever brings an evil deed shall have only the recompense of the like thereof and they will not be wronged.” (Al-Anam 6:160)

Parents must understand what win-win is in Islam

What needs to be clearly believed by us and shared with our children is:

  1. Each and every one of us has a purpose in this world. Allah’s (swt) plan has no extras in it. We all fall into a jigsaw puzzle, the winners and the losers. Don’t forget that the Prophet (sa) also experienced the Battle of Badr and Battle of Uhud. The fate of both was contrasting, as were the lessons learnt.
  2. Allah (swt) offers abundance to His creations in terms of opportunities, resources, and choices. It is up to us to grab them and decide our future course of action.
  3. These opportunities come along throughout our lives. We need to be patient, alert, and positive. This is the toughest challenge most of us fail. The disappointed and hopeless one disgraces himself by his defeatist attitude and misses out on other doors opening for him.
  4. In Allah’s (swt) world, everyone can be a winner. But you need to see yourself from the eyes of the Akhirah. The parameters and standards of the world are changing, deceptive, and not necessarily correct.
  5. Allah (swt), unlike His creations, judges people by their genuine struggles and rewards accordingly the patient ones. People, on the other hand, reward on basis of performance and not the strife one has been through.
  6. Once a winner will not always be a winner, as it is Allah’s (swt) Sunnah that whatever goes up must come down. It is the nature of Dunya. Similarly, once a loser may not always be a loser provided he or she makes principled choices in life and perseveres hopefully.

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Bringing Deen in your child’s heart

quran_childThere is a good difference between teaching Deen and making your child love Deen. Teaching comes very easily; you have to instruct your children to pray, greet with peace, to be honest at all times, and to avoid all kinds of sins. They will practise it as long as they are under your supervision, but it cannot be guaranteed in your absence. In order to make them really want to do the righteous acts you have to instil love for the Deen in their hearts.
Don’t scare them with imaginary beings.

It is the most common practise in our society that, as adults, we are prone to scaring kids using imaginary beings with some horrible made-up names. It temporarily solves the problem, but in the long run, it will not do any good. First of all, it will make your child feel deceived when he or she will discover that a scary being as such never existed. Then, it will make your child think that it is alright to lie; and then, they might lie to you as well for small and big matters. Lastly, they will never get to realize the Greatness of Allah (swt).
Instead, tell them about Allah (swt), the Most Merciful, the Most Gracious. If it is about finishing their homework, tell them that since Allah (swt) has blessed them with the opportunity to study at a school, they should thank Him by finishing their school work. If you want them to finish their food, or eat a particular dish they don’t like, tell them about how Allah (swt) will be pleased if he or she eats the food Allah (swt) has blessed your family with.

Increase their trust in Allah (swt)
Increasing your children’s trust in Allah (swt) will help to make their perception about the Judgement Day, the existence of Hell and Paradise stronger. Start doing it from a very young age. Each time they are worried, tell them that Allah (swt) is with them at all times. When your children are afraid to go to school because you will not be there, let them know that even though you can’t be there, Allah (swt) will be looking after them. This makes the existence of Allah (swt) more real to children, and they start feeling protected by Allah (swt).

Make them realize their value in the sight of Allah (swt)
We all know and must believe that Allah (swt) loves each one of us more than anyone else in this world. Children will only know that when they will persistently hear from their parents. Also, for this reason, you need to avoid taunting your children about something they are not good at, or scold them unnecessarily.

Let your children know that Allah (swt) loves them more than you do or anyone else does. Make them realize the blessings Allah (swt) has showered them with. Let them know that the happiness they receive is by the blessings of Allah (swt), and that is only because they mean a lot to Allah (swt).

Don’t shun them for wrong deeds
When you catch children doing something wrong, don’t shun them or isolate them. Instead ask them to repent and rectify their mistakes. Explain to them why it is wrong to commit a sin, or to go against the commandments of Allah (swt); and that Allah (swt) is the most forgiving if they decide not to repeat their mistake.

Rewards are more effective than punishments
It is very easy to punish your children, and punishments will eventually stop your children from doing the wrong act; but better than this is to reward them for the good deeds. By rewarding, you will increase the chances of them going good deeds again.

The reward does not have to be materialistic all the time. You can juggle between rewarding with a toy, chocolate, their favourite food, reading them their favourite book, playing a game with them that they enjoy or simply encouraging them with words.

Do what you preach
‘Do what you preach’ is the most important rule that parents forget to apply when teaching their children anything. Children learn more from your actions than from your words. If you tell them that we are not supposed to lie, then you should be careful of not lying as well. If you ask them to perform the prayers on time, then they must see you doing the same.

Allow open and friendly discussions
You can only expect your children to take you seriously, if they have that trust that you are not trying to boss them- but rather, you care for them. Take some time out every day to sit and talk to your children. Let them be open enough to discuss their doubts and confusions, especially when it comes to the Deen. Do your best not to show your irritation even if you do get irritated by their questions. Of course, there always have to be this certain boundary that you will have to maintain; but, as long as, they are really serious about asking a question, you don’t have to be too hard on them.

Randomly tell them prophetic stories
I have heard this complaint from a lot of parents that their kids enjoy listening to stories; but whenever they take that opportunity to tell them Islamic tales, they quickly lose their interest, and the whole purpose of telling that story gets destroyed.

My advice is to start the story in a general manner. You don’t have use the name of the Prophet right at the start of the story. Start with telling the story and try to grasp your child’s interest with the whereabouts of the story. Whenever we are telling kids stories of the Prophets, we focus more on their names and less on the moral of the story; whereas. children are always more interested in what the story is all about. So, once you have gained the attention get to the name of the Prophet.

Introduce them to the words of Allah (swt)
Making your children learn and memorize the Quran is an excellent act. But, along with that make them understand the meaning of the verses they recite is important. Quran has covered all topics related to our lives. What could be a better way to educate your children than with the words of Allah (swt).

Instilling Deen in your child’s heart is easier said than done. But, if you do it with pure intentions, Allah (swt) is sure to help you. May Allah (swt) be pleased with all the efforts you put in to bring up a pious offspring. Ameen.

Raising confident Muslim kids

confidentIt is our fault as parents, when our children begin to panic, have self-doubt and are unable to express themselves. I say this because- in this challenging and fast paced world, children are not given the necessary attention from home to make them confident enough to face the challenges of the outside world. The home is the first port of attachment of every child and when it is damaged, their confidence is largely affected.

It is our duty as parents to imbue confidence in our children in order to make them productive human beings. And, this must start from a very tender age so that they bloom with confidence and can aspire to fly high. When a child is loved and accepted for who he/she is, they develop confidence which enrich their productivity level. Such a child is capable of coping with external challenges, and can live life to its fullest.

The following are few tips that would help us, as parents, to play our roles in enhancing confidence in our children from an early age:

  1. It is important that we always praise our children even when they perform below average in an exam. Instead of yelling at them, we must adopt nice words like, ‘Don’t worry dear, if you give it your best shot, next time you would perform better Insha’Allah’. Words like this show our children that they are loved. And, it teaches them how to react to failure. Today, we hear about children who commit suicide, or become withdrawn out of fear of their parents’ reaction when they fail. We surely do not want such for our kids Insha’Allah.
  2. When our kids deserve admonishing, it should not be done publicly. A large number of us are guilty of this. Children are prone to act silly at times- it is our duty as adults to be mature in our reaction. We shouldn’t be so angry that we smack them in malls, or in front of other people. In fact, no child should be admonished in the presence of other siblings.
  3. Never make your child feel useless by the way you treat them. Grant them equal treatment. Do not love one child above the other. This is generally unfair. No matter how unruly a child might be, it is your duty to treat them with the same treatment as others. Sometimes, when you treat them too unfairly, you push them farther from you. And, they become more rebellious. It is our fault, if our children become so unruly to a point that is unbearable.
  4. Every time we speak with them, we should be polite and speak with respect. Please, thank you, JazakumullahKhairan are words we should make use of regularly. We should never use swear words. Apart from the fact that it hurts the child, the child begins to use those words too.
  5. Dear parents, please don’t expect your child to behave like adults. Treat them within their age group. Let them act like the child they are. Please, don’t expect them to be smart and neat at all times. They are only children. When they want to be carried on the shoulder, please do that for them. After all, when they come of age, we wouldn’t have to do that and might even miss it. Don’t take their childhood away from them prematurely.
  6. Sometimes, your children are happy when you seek their opinion in making a decision. Let’s say you want to buy a scarf, it wouldn’t do you any harm if you ask your child the colour he/she thinks you should go for. Yes try this! The child automatically feels wanted and loved.
  7. Stick their achievements on the wall at home. Schools do this to show they are proud of them. Aren’t we proud of them too? After all they are our children.
  8. Instead of words, why not try using more of actions to teach them. Let me tell you this, they imitate your actions in your absence. So, we should be careful what we do in their presence. When they see you pray, read the Quran and do good deeds, they follow your footsteps. This means you teach them to follow your example.
  9. Teach your children before the public does. Teach them to handle mobile devices responsibly. When they ask questions, satisfy their curiosity- else it would be satisfied outside the home. Talk to them about marriage from age ten. Don’t fret! They know about it already from age nine. Break the ice! Say something about it. You just might not go into intimate details at their age.
  10. Do not for once shout at them. I feel shouting is only meant for someone down there on the scale of relevance. Our children don’t belong there, refrain from doing this. Yes! Sometimes they get us so angry that we want to let it all out. But, pause a minute to examine the situation, and remember that he/she is only a child.
  11. Pray for your children. Make Dua for them. By doing this, we teach them to pray for us too.
  12. Repeatedly tell your child how much you love them. Treat them like pearls. Hug them tightly, kiss them and complement them. Tell them how beautiful or handsome they look. Of course, it increases their confidence.

We should begin to prod our children gently as heavy-handed method of parenting would damage their confidence. I know that there are some parents whose deeds develop confidence in their children, but the truth is, they are the minority. I pray that we serve as role models for the kids in our lives; teaching them through example how to be confident, and achieve great feats in this life and the hereafter. May Allah (swt) bless our efforts, and guide our children to be the comfort that we desire. I pray they grow up to be the apple of our eyes. May Allah (swt) help us to be parents who would raise confident children that would be a blessing to this Ummah. Ameen.

Make a wish list!

wish-listHandling kids in this technology era is not a piece of cake. We have to look after their needs and wants according to what the society has got for them. Also, greatest level of patience is required when we are opposing our children for something which is, undoubtedly, for their own betterment. Furthermore, we have to tell our children the advantages and disadvantages of technology- as one cannot escape the fact and figures around.

They come up with new ideas every day. Undoubtedly, the kids of this era are way more sagacious than we used to be at their age. Once, they start their nursery, they become more
brave and clever. These beauties with brains decide their dress codes and what they want for snack at school.

Just a few days back my son was telling me that he wants a black swimsuit like his friend and also a red water bottle. We must always listen to their demands and queries, but fulfilling each one of it is not a good idea.

Being parents, we must be careful about upbringing these precious pearls, so that they can become coolness of our eyes Insha’Allah. They should have the fear of Allah (swt) first and also the fear of parents. We should mould them in such a way that they should never hesitate in talking about their demands to us, and also ask Almighty Allah (swt) for help always. If they insist on taking a new model of x-box or a play station series or a pink laptop- don’t just hesitate or neglect their demands- rather, tell them that they have to pray to the Almighty Allah (swt) first who is seventy times more than a mother, and He knows what is best for us.

1. Ask for Allah’s (swt) help
Children should be aware of the fact that Allah (swt) is the Creator. He has created everything. All matters lie under His custody and He has the highest position. Moreover, He has absolute rights to distribute His wealth. We should always ask the Almighty for our needs and desires first
because nothing happens without His will. In the light of Ahadeeth, we can share this example that even when the shoe sole breaks, we have to ask Allah (swt) for help.
Besides this, we should also make it clear that whatever Allah (swt) decides for us is the best, and that we should not argue about it.

Parents can also tell them the Hadeeth about Dua which says that if a Dua is not fulfilled in the Dunya, Allah (swt) has got even better for you because He is Ar-Rahman.

2. Teach them right and wrong
Don’t let the children judge that you cannot fulfil their demands just because you cannot for some reasons; instead make the advantages or disadvantages clear about your decision. Tell them about the negativities about it, and that everything is good at a certain age. Also, don’t make promises; just tell them that as soon as they find it appropriate, and when the time will be right- you will try your level best to earn it.

3. Restrict their never ending list
Showering kids with lots of toys and getting all their demands fulfilled will not improve their character, rather weaken it. We should skip unnecessary demands of our children.

4. Take a look at the poor class
Very calmly just explain to your kids that a few people are even starving for the basic amenities of life. And Allah (swt) the Almighty has blessed us with a luxurious lifestyle. We should save a little bit of our pocket money to help the needy households. We can fix a specific amount to give every month which will ultimately reward us in the hereafter. This can only be done when we cut down our unnecessary expenses.

5. Count on your blessings
Allah (swt), the Almighty, has blessed us with health, wealth, family, education and so on. We ought to thank Allah (swt) for every breath we take. Hence, only listing down the things we are granted with will make us feel more thankful to our Lord.

Inculcating these habits in children will make them content in their lives; and hence, make them responsible individuals. Insha’Allah.

Help your children stay safe

safe-kidsChildren are one of the lovely blessings of Allah (swt). Having children and grooming them according to Islam to become a good human is very difficult. The lap of a mother is the first institution for a child where he learns about the world, and the principles of piousness.

Protecting your child from the dark shadows of the world is highly challengeable. There are a number of people who have a sense of right and wrong; but there are also a number of people who have an unstoppable urge for this world- simply called as the devil for the society- whose sole purpose is to spread the mess.

“For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind”- provide it to your child!

Some of the things that mainly vitiate your child are:  media, bad environment, bad company, internet, and also, sensual female protagonist games. Try to keep away your children from fight-oriented movies and games because it may bring aggressiveness, frustration, obstinacy and revolt in them. Moreover, it also declines their IQ level.

Prepare and prevent, rather than repair and repent!

To protect your child, you should train in such a way that they themselves can mark between the good and bad.  Especially, this is the responsibility of a mother to teach them about the dubious people wearing the mask of innocence.

Love and trust- go together!

  • Always show that you really trust them. Try to spend proper time with your child. If they try to tell something but hesitate, then let them feel comfortable with yourself because you are the only one who is nearest to them and understands their emotions.
  • Teach your child  that no one has right to see, touch or play with your private body parts
  • They must never accept any food stuff or gift from a stranger. They must refuse their offer on the spot and leave. .
  • Sometimes, the children think that they are at fault, and their elder would punish them or beat them; they start hiding the things which leads to destruction because of the absence of guidance.

Hug you kids at home, but belt them in cars!

Don’t leave your child alone at home or anywhere with servants. If your child is an extrovert, and starts talking to anyone, then softly advise him/her not to talk to strangers.

The Media-mania

Media is one of the biggest monsters and a catastrophe for our children. No one has time to keep an eye on them. There are so many tactics using which you can save children from the destruction. For instance- set a specific time to watch the television. Discuss their views on the program which they watched; but remember, do not show them that you keep a check on them; or make them feel that you are an investigator.

Filter your conversation with your child according to his/her age and understanding. In this century, no doubt, grooming children is like a Rocket Science. Parenthood brings a huge responsibility your shoulders.

Delivering the best knowledge to your child is an on-going struggle. Global knowledge along with the knowledge of religion is what makes the child rise and shine. Islam is the best code of conduct for all.

15 Tips to Raising Great Children

Vol 1-Issue 2 Upbringing Children1) Start by teaching them the importance of worshipping only Allah (swt): The best thing any Muslim parent could ever teach  their children is to emphasize, from the day they can comprehend, that Allah (swt) is One and no one is worthy of worship except Allah (swt).
2) Treat them kindly: Kindness begets kindness. If we are kind to our children, they in turn would show kindness to others. Our Prophet (sa) was the best example in being kind to children.
3) Teach them examples: Here are some tips you may want to follow in helping your children grow up with Islamic values of Muslim heroes: Instead of Batman or Superman, tell them about real heroes such as Abu Bakr, Umar Ibn Khattab, Uthman Bin Affan, Ali Bin Abi Talib and others. Tell them how Muslim leaders brought a real peaceful change in the world, and won the hearts of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
4) Let children sit with adults: It is preferable for children to be among adults, especially when listening to Islamic lectures. The Prophet (sa) would often put children in the front row when he spoke to the people.
5) Make them feel important: Consult them in family matters. Let them feel they are important members of the family; and that they have a part to play in the growth and well being of the family.
6) Go out as a family: Take family trips rather than allowing your children to always go out with their friends. Let your children be around family and friends from whom you want them to pick up their values. Always remember that your children will become who they are around with most of the time. So, watch their company and above all give them your company.
7) Praise them: Praise is a powerful tool with children, especially in front of others. Children feel a sense of pride when their parents’ praise them, and will be keen to perform other good deeds. However, praise must be limited to Islamic deeds and deeds of moral value.
8) Avoid humiliation: Similarly, do not humiliate them in front of others. Children make mistakes. Sometimes, these mistakes occur in their efforts to please the parents. If you are unhappy with your children, tell them in private.
9) Sports: The Prophet (sa) encouraged sports such as swimming, running and horse riding. Other sports that build character and physical strength are also recommended- as long as the children maintain their Islamic identity, wear appropriate clothes and do not engage in unnecessary mixing.
10) Responsibility: Have faith in their abilities to perform tasks. Give them chores to do in line with their age. Convince them that they are performing an important function, and you will find them eager to help you out again.
11) Don’t spoil them: Children are easily spoiled. If they receive everything they ask for, they will expect you to oblige on every occasion. Be wise in what you buy for them. Avoid extravagance and unnecessary luxuries. Take them to an orphanage or poor area of your city once in a while so they can see how privileged they are.
12) Don’t be friends: It is common in the West for parents to consider their children as friends. In Islam, it doesn’t work that way. If you have ever heard how friends talk to each other, then you will know that this is not how a parent-child relationship should be. You are the parents, and they should respect you, and this is what you should be teaching them. The friendship part should be limited to you and them; keeping an open dialog so they can share their concerns with you, and ask you questions when they have any.
13) Pray with them: Involve them in acts of worship. When they are young, let them see you in the act of Salah (Salat). Soon, they would be trying to imitate you. Wake them up for Fajr and pray as a family. Talk to them about the rewards of Salah so that it doesn’t feel like a burden to them.
14) Emphasize the Halal: It is not always good to say: “this is Haram, that is Haram”. While you must educate them on Haram things, Islam is full of Halal; and tell your children to thank Allah (swt) for the bounties He has bestowed on them- not just for food and clothes. Tell them to be thankful for having eyes that see, ears that hear, arms and legs, and the ultimate blessing, Islam in their hearts.
15) Set an example: As parents, you are the best example the children can have. If you talk to your parents rudely, expect your children to do the same to you. If you are disrespectful to others, your children will follow too. Islam is filled with Divine advices to bring up your children. That makes it an obligation upon parents to be good Muslims so their children will try to emulate them. If you don’t take Islam seriously, neither will your children. It goes back to our third point, which is to acquaint them with Islamic heroes. As a parent, you should be their number one hero.

What you sow, so shall you reap

seedlings-wallpaperThere is an old saying which states that we teach the way we are taught and we parent the way we are raised. Behaviours are somehow contagious. We have absorbed and adopted the ways of our parents. In our so called Pakistani culture, we have been fully stuffed with our traditions and cultural norms. When it comes to raising children, we parent our boys and daughters according to the list we have got from our forefathers and society. You must be well acquainted with words such as: boys will be boys; and that, she is a girl, and it does not suit her. We are least interested in knowing and implementing the decorum of parenting and morals that is mentioned in Quran and Sunnah. In our never ending need to strive and compete for the materialistic things, we have surpassed many ethics and moral values that we need to adopt in order to weave those in our kids. The character we wish to see in them must shine brightly in our own personalities. James Baldwin stated “children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they never failed to imitate them.”

I found my toddler hitting and yelling on his younger sister. Raged with heightened emotions, I rushed to his side yelling not to hit. The reprimand was followed by a slap from my side. There was something in his eyes that really shook me down. A hidden complaint! As if he was asking, how come you get along fine with hitting and yelling at me when you disapprove of me doing the same? At that point on spot, I realized and committed to yell less often in order to totally eliminate it. What we need is mutual and shared journey- a consistent commitment!

Hence, prior to teaching our kids, we need to correct ourselves first. Learning and acquiring needs some efforts.

Muscle memory

Elephants learn via muscle memory. How can we use this idea to unlearn the learned undesirable behavioural responses? Each one of us has his own style of doing any specific task. Let’s say cooking for instance- I would first arrange the things needed, wash and chop. Add to pot and then I do the dishes and other chores. In the meantime, when I am cleaning up and kneading, the meal will be ready. It is the same pattern that I follow every day, so it is now a solidified memory. Therefore, I need to switch the sequence in order to unlearn my muscle memory. It will cause some confusion in remembering and recalling what I have done and have not- but it will be fun! A general example can lead you to understand the technique, and hence, can be applied to various settings. The point is to break the same repetition that you are programmed to do. A conscious effort will help to build new muscle memory. This is how we need to unlearn the accustomed, biased, and hypocrite patterns of parenting.

We need to put a halt to our old set of beliefs and expectations that we hold towards our kids. Being a boy, does not grant your son superior rights to invalidate the rights and desire of other girls around. It is better to teach them young, when they are soft and can be molded in any way than to deal with a stubborn adult. Before our every step to alter their reactions and behaviour, we first need to stir our own cognition and put in action.

Here are the ten most important strengths to inculcate in your kids to remove the stigmatized belief systems.    

1. Interim gaze vs. perpetual hell!

It’s a girl’s fault that she is displaying her beauty for us to stare; you just can’t say this and lay the burden of your sin on the one who is revealing herself. Remember the commandment to lower your gaze, and guard their chastity is prescribed for men first. Modesty is not just for girls to follow, and adhere to the rules of guarding gaze. Girls will be responsible for what they reveal and boys will be held accountable for what they see. Teach them from start to lower their gaze as it is a form of showing respect to other women, and to guard their own selves from displeasure of Allah (swt). Make your son responsible for his part of deed. In addition, when he catches his father staring at other women to satisfy his eyes, he will model the same.

2. Al Qawam

Men are responsible for their family. Abdullah Ibn Umar (ra) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A  man is the guardian of his family, and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children, and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his master, and he is responsible for it. Surely, every one of you is a shepherd and responsible for his flock.” Man must be able to take responsibility and have a firm personality without being indecisive in nature. Despite of being a helicopter and over possessive parent, be assistive and give them opportunity to marvel their strength of taking responsibility and decisions. Being Qawam means you are in controlling position, don’t stampede on others. Be a just leader in front of your son as he will follow the same footsteps.

3. Gender equality

Equality is the root of Islam. Being a male does not make you superlative and something-out-of –the-world. Sisters are not lower in status; hence, being a son doesn’t mean you can have any supreme right. However, man has been given one degree higher status, but that is not to boss around and to be unfair.

“Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth…” (an-Nisa 4:34)

Kindly, don’t spoil their minds by giving them extra special treatment by making your daughters serve them; and by providing them with specific chicken pieces and meat loaf, while starving your daughters with vegetables. And again be a role model yourself.

4. Honour and Gheerah for your woman

As it goes- modesty dies in women, when jealousy dies in men. Men of today take pride in displaying their wives’ beauty in front of their friends and distant family members. By taking her to public gatherings and corporate dinners, men have reduced their worth to mere objects. Instill Gheerah in your sons at a younger age. Their mothers, sisters, wives are their pride- a pride to be protected.

5. Be Humble

Sana: “Nadia why don’t you ask Ahmed to be polite with others. He is so boastful and ill tempered.”

Nadia: “He is a boy and boys are like this. Anger suits them, it’s in their blood. Would you like a lion without its roar?”

With this mindset, we are raising destructive souls who won’t be any good to the society.Being a boy does not give our sons license to be rigid, aggressive and rude. Let politeness and kindness be their trait. We shun our sons to play with dolls, thinking it might make them sissy and girlish; although, it would bring out his love and care for others. And perhaps, it might ring the sensitivity hidden in them. Thus, enabling them to maintain a healthy relationship with their wives and children. Being compassionate makes one priceless.

6. Combat peer pressure

What is Halal will always be Halal, even if no one is doing it; and what is Haram will always be Haram, when all are doing it. Instill the love of Allah (swt) and Sunnah so much in your children’s hearts that when they outgrow their childhood, they have firm belief in what is right and wrong. Staying out late at nights, honking bikes, and whistle to females; wearing spaghetti stripes, dating boys and having *serious relationships* will still be unacceptable even if your friends are doing it. Teach them that the friends you choose have a great impact on your personality, hence, choose wisely. If your children find you being a people’s pleasure, and one who surrenders lawful and right things just to gain social recognition and praise, then they will not be able to stand, and resist the peer and societal pressure on him- as they always look up to us.

7. It’s okay to be emotional

Crying is not a sign of weakness, nor is it a woman’s trait. Man has equal right to express and ventilate. It will not make him less of a man. We shun them from crying since infancy saying, “Are you a girl?” Every human being has a need to let go off the disturbing sensations happening inside.

8. Your wife is not your maid

Your wives are your better halves. She is not a maid to serve you and to be yelled at, nor is she a production machine. Apart from child bearing and breast feeding, man can train himself how to deal with colicky babies and teething phases. A girl is not innately trained to be a mother, she learns through experiences; however, a man on the contrary has to learn by practicing more and eventually he will. He is equally responsible for his kid’s well-being. Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to help in household, and would mend his clothes on his own. Hence, attain great honour by following this Sunnah.

Girls-You are an Amanah!

9. You are my gem- the most beautiful creation of Allah (swt)

Encourage your girls on their appearance and beauty so that they do not crave for the attention of any local guy on street, in neighbourhood or family. Nourish her heart and soul with praise so that she can value herself; and keep her beauty a mystery for all and reveal only to her husband-to-be.

10. Your status is much higher

Role of women in Islam is huge. She is responsible for her children’s nourishment with religion. Polluting their minds and making their hearts captives of the fairy tales and romantic scenes and weddings leaves our children bewildered in this world of deception. The real purpose of our existence is to earn Jannah by abiding to the rules set by Allah (swt). Being a girl does not make you weak. Your advice is valued. Prophet (as) emphasized on taking advice from each other. Come out of the kitchen and parties, and be a practicing Muslim first. It’s a very delicate matter- a mother can be a door to either hell or heaven for her child. Choose wisely.

11. Shop to treat idleness

Recurrent advertisements and jokes on women and their habit of shopping. Shopping mania is a sin in disguise. It eradicates depression. No woman is as fragile and irrational as shown. There are numerous examples in Islamic history where Muslim women participated in battles to look after the wounded companions (ra) and other Muslim soldiers. Do not run to branded shops always, and die after sale opportunities as if shopping is the only purpose to live.

12. Be a door mat, suffer in silence

We often laud women with phrases like home is made when a woman sacrifices her desires for the sake of children and family. Islam does not ask for such an endurance which destroys your emotional and psychological well-being. Neither does it hinder women empowerment. Don’t be submissive, be assertive, Hazrat Khadijah (ra) was a self-supportive widow, running her own merchant. Maintaining Islamic boundaries is crucial though. Teach your daughter not to dwell in hopelessness and depressive modes; rather stand up and shine for the blessings she has got, and make use of the space which Islam has allowed her.

13. Misogynistic myth

Women are created to be a means of extending the family by rearing offspring. They are obliged to look after infants, and fulfill their responsibility regarding home and other chores.Children look up to us. What we display in our actions, they will imprint that in their minds, and later use it when dealing with their own spouses. If you boss around your wife, or if you keep your husband under your thumb, then don’t be surprised to see yourself in them in future.


Read between the lines

read-between-the-linesI remember when I was in grade nine, my English teacher gave us a comprehension. It was followed by a series of questions pertaining to that very specific composition. After reading it multiple times, I failed to grab an answer. I asked her, how to find the answers which are not there? She smiled and said, “Read between the lines.” Now I know how some messages are subtle.

Exposure capping

Have you ever encountered a situation when you unknowingly reach for an unknown product on basis of familiarity? You do not know anything about it, but have seen it thousands of time on television set, and have heard its name multiple times via media means. Media has bombarded the minds of viewers with massive promotional advertisement. What is seen is what is selling.  The message stored in our subconscious. The tactic is exposure -to show them explicitly that it gets stored in the brains. Is everything we are being exposed to worth watching?

All that glitters is not gold

Media magnificently wraps the slime and slut into the realm of doubtless, envisage, mushy, and cheesy stories. This all causes their heart to skip a beat and they long for all this in their lives. It is for this fantasy that they go for unlawful relationships. Hearts and flowers steal the show. What are we offering them? A world where-

Adultery justified

Modesty rationalized

Morals marginalized

Personal matters publicized

Religion paralyzed

Violence generalized

Women advertised

Filth idealized

Ummah immunized

Bypass your conscious mind Have you ever heard of the word,“subliminal message”? It is anything that sends you a message without your knowledge, which is usually picked up on by your subconscious mind. It might be a text, graphic, pictorial or any other auditory means.

You will find numerous examples of these explicit messages that are hidden in cartoons. Cartoons are no more cartoons nowadays. They offer violence, aggression, erotic messages, brutal killings, and homosexuality. Don’t brush it under your carpets. It is time to recognize the problem and to work for its eradication


 A known cartoon lion king has been objected on a scene when the lion blows off dust from a cliff. The dust forms a word SEX which is a subliminal message. Kids absorb it and it surely messes up with their belief. Why do you see such crimes appalling and common?


This is another example of a hidden message that we parents are blindly offering to our little ones with innocent minds. We are the reason behind exploiting their minds. If you love them truly, you will surely make a way to filter and detox the receiving grime in the name of entertainment. In a lighter tone- just for a laugh- when your husband asks you to not to spend much time in shopping, you spend hours and hours by ignoring his reprimand.  You do what you want. We are all in our comfort zone, happily spending time on cell phones, video games, televisions, and other electronic gadgets. We are badly snatching the right of our kids and spouse upon us. The situation turns bleak when family time is replaced by screen time. We are now introverts and lack the empathetic skills to socialize. We lack time for our kids; have no devotion to educate them, to protect them. Later, we have no right to cry over the spilt milk.


Some adverse effects of media exposure

  1. There are various types of physical mutilation that media entertainment provides. Long hours of screen time badly effects
    1. memory
    2. attention span
    3.  cognition
    4. Impaired Eye sight
    5. Weight gain.
    6.  A kid who is exposed to all sorts of filth gets immune to the depicted sins; hence, readily absorbs on both levels of consciousness and unconsciousness.
    7. High level of anger and violence. Sample of Wisconsin and Maryland high school and junior high school students confirm the correlational link of aggressive behaviour and delinquency.
    8. Indecency in dressing. Princess Jasmine and Ariel half naked. Our girls dream of those dresses as they are worn by princesses.
    9. Blindly following the cartoon characters- nearly worshipping them. A kid jumped off his roof by wearing a cloak and died, as he dreamt to fly like the spider man.
    10. Lost heritage, cultural and Islamic values. Doctor Victor b. Cline, the psychologist, says that: “the media are powerful teachers of values and ethical behaviour, and sometimes may play a more significant role than the church.”
    11. Sleep and eating disorders. Media wrongly inform our opinions and desires. To quote, leading to the desire of white skin and zero figures through persuasive ads and programs. Leading to disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa.
    12. Today Video games offer life-like characters and rich, graphic imagery that delivers very realistic experiences. Studies have shown a correlation between playing video games and unhealthy outcomes for children, such as isolation and loneliness, obesity, belief in gender stereotypes and increased aggressive behaviour.
    13. Violence and massacre. Tom and Jerry shows extreme brutal hitting.
    14. Hidden erotic messages mature the reproductive system and sex hormones; thus, kids today are reaching their puberty earlier.
    15. Increase rate of rapes.
    16. Learn abusive language.

How can we protect them?

Befriend your child and educate, do not dictate!

Being parents, we are responsible to instill the love of Allah (swt) and educate them about the things which are disliked by Allah (swt). Start telling them at an early age about the things that pleases and displeases Allah (swt) as young minds are more absorbent. We often offer them screen time because we have work to do, or to have some me time, or to keep them calm and motionless, tied to their place. Everything can wait but time will not. This is the crucial time as iron can be molted when hot. This is the high time that you divert their minds towards healthy habits like book reading, helping around the house (for instance, to pick cushions up and put on right places).

For younger kids, install software that will limit their view of things that they are not supposed to see. In joint family, it is rather difficult to convince about the hazards of television. Supplicate a lot to Allah (swt) and with wisdom limit and distract your kids. Do not run after your kid every time you catch him watching television by saying Haram Haram (unlawful). Your role is to educate and not to compel. It is normal that a kid will fall for the beats and cartoon. Offer him with a substitute. There are many Islamic cartoons available on To name few, learn Quran with Zaky, Adams world, Hurray for Baba Ali, and nasheeds without music. If they have seen anything, that carries a bad message. Try to detox it later by talking about it. Make a list of things that fall under sin and things that are worthy of rewards. Make them yearn for Jannah (paradise). Islam is not about individualism, but rather it talks about communism. Build an ambience around that is free of the things which Allah (swt) doesn’t like. This will take time, but it will surely bring sweet fruits later. Tell him television itself is not bad. What it advertises and displays is wrong. Tell him how we can  make good use of it by watching animal channels and others educational programs.

Mirror mirror on the wall

Yes, your kids follow like  your own shadow or reflection. Model the behaviour you yourself want them to have. You need to limit your screen time. There should not be a television in bedroom. When dramas and movies are your weakness, and you fail to resist the allure to watch; when you are glued in front of the television and ignore when your husband shows up; when you give your kids a shut up call because they are interrupting while you are involved in a mesmerizing scene- then don’t expect them to be away from this filth. Neither, demand them to obey you or respect you. You are committing a sin and this sin will follow even after your death too. Your kids will follow your footsteps. As it is said in Surah Yaseen,


Verily, We give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces, and all things We have recorded with numbers (as a record) in a Clear Book. (Surah Yaseen 36: 12)

Don’t try to fit in, when you are born to stand out!

Peer pressure is the most important factor that regulates our thought process and desire. I remember during my schooling, I used to feel like a fish out of water. I was not allowed to watch movies alone without my mother’s supervision. My classmates would talk about all sorts of movies, scenes, slang words and my jaws would drop to the floor. Be very vigilant when it comes to choose an education system as kids blindly follow the crowd around in order to fit in. In addition, a time comes when teachers have more powerful impact as compared to parents. Bon fires, farewells, trip to Cineplex, movie nights, are the events endorsed with music and filth. During my college years, a friend of mine refused to pay for the farewell arrangement charges. Her father said that I will not spend for unlawful things. Hats off to her and her parents for bringing her up in the most desirable way, that will gain the pleasure of Allah (swt). Give your child confidence that the false opinion of his peers will not shatter his roots nor tear apart his self-worth. Backward, extremist, loser are some of the attributes given to such kids who don’t watch television, or are unaware of the upcoming song or movie. Again it goes back to parenting. Be your kid’s best friend, before the world offers him wrong friends. I was uncomfortable to read that it is Talibanization and extremism to say watching television is sin.


It’s high time

Do we need a trumpet to be blown on our heads? How are we turning a blind eye to the so openly served nonsense to our kids and youth? Dating, extra marital affairs, polygamy (yes, it is allowed in Islam; for my male readers but only if a man can afford and do justice), betraying your spouse, drinking, gambling, myth of eternal love, dancing parties, you name it and you get to see it. Everything is becoming a norm and our kids are being brain washed to accept the immorality. Who is to be blamed? Is it the fault of media for dishing out such lustful and indecent dramas and music? Or is it entirely the fault of your children who are not more than a couch potato? A kid of today is passive and aggressive; he contempts elders and ridicules their principles; he burns his lid off mostly by throwing tantrums and fit.

Nevertheless, it is not too late. Make intention and then fasten up your belt. Do your best and supplicate to protect your kids from the trials of today.

A note for media people

Media people are responsible for what our kids see and they will be held accountable for what they offer. Be cautious! As you will soon be standing in front of the Lord of the worlds. They are holding the blame of others sin too. A movie is ban on account of being x-rated. The tactic is simple. If you want to have a mega hit and massive sale, ban the product. Out of curiosity, people will come to see. Allah (swt) knows the intention behind. Whether the Niyyah (intention) behind naming it eighteen plus is to limit the audience or increase the viewership.

How to develop Love for Quran in our children?

child-quranChild-rearing is an enormous responsibility, and it is considered leverage upon parents in terms of what they teach their child; this is revealed when they grow up, and operate as adult individuals within the society.
Al-Ghazali once wrote, ‘The child, is a trust (placed by God) in the hands of his parents, and his innocent heart is a precious element capable of taking impressions.’

It is, therefore, obligatory upon the Muslim parents that they base their nurturing upon the grounds of providing sufficient worldly and Islamic education- one that reveals unto the young minds the mysteries of their existence, and facilitates them to evaluate the purpose for which they were created.
Quran is the Holy Book which is kept aside in the modern age. This age of information technology and innovative equipments has resulted in people prioritizing their worldly competition and recreation over the fundamental devotion to Allah (swt). It is now bound upon the people of this Ummah to rise and summon those who have lost the message. This revival begins from our own sanctuaries. It is mandatory upon us as parents to shatter this predicament that the Ummah is facing. To release the Ummah from the shackles of wreckage, it is gravely required that the upcoming generation is aware of their responsibility and the pathway that they are expected to follow. For this, it is crucial that the parents play their designated role in conveying unto their kids, the importance of the Holy Book and the message it delivers. This can be done through some ways enumerated below:

  • Make Dua: God created mankind in such a fashion that they cannot fulfill any of their desires unless He himself commands for those to become true. Parents may plan out many things for their beloved children, but it all becomes worthless if Allah (swt) denies those plans. He is the best of planners, and thus, it is vital that parents make Dua for their children to be convicted Muslims, even before they enter this Dunya.
    You may recite Quranic Duas, the ones recited by Hazrat Maryam (as) or Hazrat Zakariya (as). There are plenty other supplications mentioned in the Quran. For example,
    “And those who say: “Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqun.” (Al-Furqan 25:74)

The believers must place their trust in Allah (swt), and ask Him for pious children, the ones who will eventually end up as infinite Sadaqah-e-Jariah for them. According to a Hadeeth:

“There are three supplications that are answered – there being no doubt about it: the supplication of the oppressed, the supplication of the traveler and the supplication of the parent for his child.” (Ibn Majah)

  • Recite Quran to the unborn:  In this age of modern sciences, doctors are encouraging the expectant parents to directly converse with their unborn child as this has been witnessed to have profound effects on the baby’s intellectual advancement.
    The sound which the unborn child predominantly hears is the voice of their mother, is there a better sound for a baby to hear than the Divine words?
    It is the spoken word (كلام) of Allah (swt). This spoken word has been termed as light (نور), mercy (رَحمَةً), guidance (هُدًى) and a means of healing (شفآء), in the Quran itself.
  • Recite Quran around your children: Quran has a positive impact on hearts, whether it is babies or adults. Therefore, reading aloud Quran around your newborn or playing recitations in the household will culminate in amazing optimistic response from the baby. You may notice a considerable deceleration in the incessant ranting of your toddler. The profound effect of these words makes a child peaceful. This will also let them get used to the Holy words and develop an acquaintance with those words.
    Make sure that your words are clear to them; you may notice your toddlers synchronizing their lips along with you.
  • Read Quranic translation with your kids: Once your child enters into the age where they are able to read and understand, you may practice contemplating over the meaning of the Quran along with them. Make those sessions interesting by recreational activities, asking questions and using the language which they would easily understand. Also, ensure that these sessions are short and precise. Long sessions tend to bore the child and result in opposite effects.
    Let them know about the mercy of Allah (swt) and the blissful gardens awaiting them, and the actions which may lead them there.
  • Take them along to mosques and religious gatherings: Once your child has reached the age where he/she has developed the sense that it is mandatory to stay silent in mosques and other religious gatherings, allow them to accompany you at every local Dars or religious congregation, enabling them to attain an attachment with the religion.
  • Admit them into schools which focus on imparting Quranic education: Schooling is one really vital phase of a child’s life. The learning they acquire in this phase accompanies them throughout their lives. Thus, it must be assured that children are admitted in those schools which include Quran in their curriculum rather than keeping it aside as an extra-curricular activity. All your efforts at home will fail if the school denies the importance of Quranic knowledge.
    Such decision may result in compromising the high-level education provided by other schools, but you may notice extremely astounding results of religious schooling, too. A child absorbs more when he/she is studying with children of same age group.
    Allah (swt) is with those who make sacrifices for His sake, you will find your child at elevated levels of Dunya and Akhirah, Insha’Allah!
  • Aid your child in memorization of Quran A child’s brain is like a sponge, absorbing all it witnesses. You may desire your child to become a Hafiz some day, start functioning on this dream from the very young age of your child.
    One handy tip could be, using the bed time as recitation time, that is, repeatedly recite a portion of Quran with your child for several days. Begin with some short Surah, it would end up in your child reciting these Surahs fluently Insha’Allah.
    You may use several other encouragement techniques in accordance with the age and intellect of your child.

Remember that, you are the one responsible for the initiation of a Quranic pathway for your children. Be a role-model for them and make them realize the importance of Holy Book in our lives. Nothing can be a better Sadaqah-e-Jariah for a person than his offspring.

Our Kids, Our Sadaqah-e-Jariah

islami parenting- 1We always think about what will happen to us when we die? But have we ever thought about what will happen to our kids when they die? Are you confronting troubles in raising them into a productive Muslim and a Sadaqah-e-Jariah for yourself?

Here are some easy parenting tips to follow.

Inculcate Islamic routine and habits
Ever wondered how much emphasis do we put on Islamic routine? What should be our primary focus?

Make an Islamic routine for your children which may include:
a.      Teach them to stay awake after Fajr prayer (depending on the Salah times during the year).
b.      Make them read/memorize a portion of Quran daily.
c.      Make them reflect on a verse of Quran or some Hadeeth every day.
d.      Teach them to be charitable- even by smiling.
e.      Prioritize that they perform their Salah on time.
f.      Inculcate the habit of reading the Duas that Prophet (sa) used to read before going to bed, after waking up from sleep, eating etc.

Cheers for chores

We know, as Muslims, that cleanliness is half of our faith. If being clean is a large part of us being a Muslim, why not cultivate this into our children at an early age and teach them how to maintain their home and own space?  In their development, we all must play an effective role to keep both our external and internal environment clean. Someone taught a girl not to litter the ground. When she was asked why, she replied , “Why litter the ground we will be sleeping in one day?” I found her words extremely beautiful.

Make them follow Sunnah

Try to make Prophet (sa) their role model and the one whose footsteps they need to follow even while doing little tasks. Bring out positivity in them by reading to them the stories about Sahaba, and making their image everlasting in their minds. In this way, they will be able to understand our Islamic history more profoundly; they will respect our heroes and will try to act like them in their own lives as well.

Walk the talk

You cannot expect your kid to sit and learn Quran while the dad’s watching T.V and mummy’s browsing on her I pad. With the love of Quran exemplified in the parents, a young child will be attracted to sit and learn. So, first act upon what you teach them, and make them your Sadaqah-e-Jariah- the only way to earn rewards even after death.

Top Three Reasons Why Children Fail


What are kids scared of in school? They are afraid to let down the anxious adults around them namely their teachers and parents. This nerve-wrecking fear hovers over their head like a dark cloud, chasing them to failure. What else is scaring the living daylights out of them? It’s the humiliation these children feel when they cannot learn well enough and are targeted by their fellow classmates, who mock them and turn them into a laughing stock. It’s the hurtful comparisons their own parents make to their other siblings or other friends cruising ahead in school.

The greatest gift a parent or teacher can give to a child is their confidence and faith in his ability to reach his potential. 

Fear is the greatest hurdle in the way of learning. A genius cannot live under the constant scare of defeat and the pressure of not disappointing others. For this very reason, inventors like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein failed so miserably in formal schooling. Yet the minute they were pulled out of the pressure and allowed to create something of value, they rose from mediocrity to excellence.

Kids are also afraid to make mistakes because the grown-ups in their lives generally have little or zero tolerance for it. Whether it is a simple case of spilling milk on the table, a wrong answer to a math problem, or a misspelt word, children are taken to task for any error they make. It makes me wonder about the number of times Anas (rtam) must have blundered while serving our Prophet Muhammad (sa) as a child, and yet, in his own words as evidence, Anas (rtam) states: “Not once in nine years of my service was I ever rebuked by the Messenger (sa).” Muhammad (sa) understood and respected the tender nature of children, and he allowed them room to learn and make mistakes fearlessly.


John Holt states: “Except for a handful, who may or may not be good students, they fail to develop more than a tiny part of the tremendous capacity for learning, understanding and creating with which they were born and of which they made full use during the first two or three years of their lives. Why do they fail?”

A child does not need to be a jack of all trades. He will fare better if he becomes the master of one. 

They fail because the race to finish off school curriculum is on every teacher and parent’s mind in general. The stuff kids are expected to do in classrooms is dull and boring. It does not challenge their intelligence. So they desperately try to sail along, sometimes swimming and other times drowning.


What confuses children? It’s the contradiction between what they learn in their classroom and what the real world presents to them. It makes little or no sense at all. To dodge this, kids adapt many strategies to survive school too. At times, they will mumble an answer. At other times, they will stay silent. Some will give the most outrageously incorrect answer mainly so that they are left alone. Others will try to read the teacher’s face for clues and may get lucky.

The greatest gift a parent or teacher can give to a child is their confidence and faith in his ability to reach his potential. Allah’s (swt) creation is never faulty. Every child comes with his set of skills. Unfortunately, our schools and educational system has very little room to recognize and let that talent grow. A child does not need to be a jack of all trades. He will fare better if he becomes the master of one. This means the report card may show low grades in some places and a clear winner in the area of the kid’s interest and passion. Let that be!

Adapted from “How Children Fail” by John Holt

Seeds of Tomorrow

seedlings-wallpaperHolding and caressing a baby in the arms is one of the most emotionally fulfilling experiences in life. Then watching a baby grow and thrive is the most rewarding feeling one can ever get. Getting to know a newborn baby in the first few days and weeks is also a thrilling experience, which reaches far more than just caring for his daily needs. It’s like a new chapter of life, in which the baby is the main actor. The baby learns about his parents, the family and the surroundings. He learns to speak his cutely incomplete words “Ma” “Didi” and a variety of others. It is an unforgettable time for the whole family watching a tiny person making sense of the world around him, and his cute gestures are captured for a lifetime.

As this seed grows into an individual through this beautiful experience of caring, parents also develop a sense of maturity and responsibility.

“Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this world…” (Al-Kahf 18:46)

Children are a source of vigour to the heart, joy to the soul and pleasure to the eyes.  They allure us towards worldly life. Many parents forget the need of proper upbringing of their children, because of their intense love for them; deviating from the right parenting techniques, fulfilling their children’s wrong desires and demands. More than material items, children want time and love from their parents.

Parents are like teachers for their children. If teachers wish to succeed in providing the curriculum in a disciplined and safe environment, they spend time on preparing a lesson plan. Likewise, a parent’s long-term plan is absolutely vital for the development of a child’s physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual life. We all do some planning in our life subconsciously, but tend to ignore that for our after-life investment, because we are so much busy in worldly gains. Those, who plan for efficient parenthood, are eventually rewarded and become proud parents of their shining stars.

The importance of nurturing children is similar to plants in the nursery. The culmination of a plant is a healthy tree with flowers and fruits. Parental care here does not simply mean providing children with good food, dress and shelter. It includes proper education, the inculcation of good behaviour and attitude towards human beings and other creation. Those, who create havoc in the society and become a menace to humanity are generally known to have unfavourable upbringing.

a parent’s long-term plan is absolutely vital for the development of a child’s physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual life.

Unique Child-Parent Relationship

Parents need to change their approach, as the seed is growing slowly and gradually into a beautiful flower – from nurturing the baby to a teenager, and finally a grown up. When I was a teen, I experienced the worst of my mood swings. From extreme happiness to bleakness and bewilderment, all my emotive mood swings were perfectly handled by my parents. As a teenager, when I was too pre-occupied looking at myself in the mirror for hours, conscious about looking beautiful, my clothes and my skin, my parents often used to get annoyed; but it wasn’t deliberate, and finally they started to understand. I had always boasted to my mother, “You don’t understand me!” and she used to respond “My dear, it’s an experience of forty-eight years of my life; I have seen the brutal realities that you haven’t. I may not understand you, and I’m sorry if you’re unhappy, but I can’t see you like this.” This way my mother expressed her immense care and love.

I had the magical feeling and thinking, “It will never happen to me!” whenever my mother would narrate a few of her experiences regarding life. Belief in this magic always made me feel: how can anyone betray you if you truly love him? And my brother always thought he can safely drive in a daredevil manner. But, unfortunately, I was always wrong; whatever my mother said was like an interpretation of the future, which always came true. And, then I used be like, “Oh my Allah (swt), this is exactly what my mom told me.”

So my dear readers, if you ever start thinking your parents are a pain, or that they get in the way, then you lose. Because, when you put your parents in an old folk’s home and forget about them, you can be sure that your kids will put you there one day as well and forget about you. Islam instills into us love and care for our parents, because they helped us take our first step, nurtured us and cared for us like diamonds. The Holy Quran says:

“And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination.” (Luqman 31:14)

Just a Curry Patta (Leaf)

curry-leaf-benefitAs I was going to cook curry today, I entrusted my son with a list of ingredients and told him to bring them soon. When he returned, I remembered that I had forgotten to tell him to bring curry leaves and felt ashamed to tell him to go again and bring them. But getting curry leaves wasn’t an issue because the house we resided in had an enormous curry tree with huge branches always swinging in the wind. Most passers-by felt it was their duty to snatch its leaves. People do not consider it a sin to pick and eat things from vendors’ carts or to pluck flowers and leaves in someone else’s garden without permission. For me, educating my children in a community, where such stealing is not considered unlawful, was and is a great challenge. Because my children consider cheating very bad, they suffered a lot in examination room, and its impact could be clearly seen in their results.

Finally, I told my son to ask the elderly lady, who resided below and was the owner of the house, to give us some curry leaves. My son went to her and asked her for the leaves. She said: “Pluck them from the tree – there is no need to ask permission for this.” The matter was solved, curry was ready and I was feeling happy in my heart.

Truly, there was strength in her speech: where stealing is considered to be a sin, asking others for things is also not a good option.

Later, I told my mother this story, feeling proud and brave. However, my good- hearted mother made me re-think the whole scenario and said: “Noor-ul-Ain, it would have been great, if you would not have sent your child there asking for curry leaves. Tell me, would you feel good seeing your children ask things from others? Make them self-reliant. It would have been a lot better, if you would have cooked the curry without the curry leaves or sent him again to the market.” I felt ashamed in front of her. Truly, there was strength in her speech: where stealing is considered to be a sin, asking others for things is also not a good option.

My mother gave special attention to her children’s training. Her golden principles helped us in training our children. Mothers should train their children, focusing on instilling good moral and social values in them – this will help build a healthy community as well as fulfill the dream of our leaders: Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal.

(Part 2) Parents as Counsellors

Counseling-triennale[Continued from here]

What are the opportunities/signs of counseling for parents?

If the child appears:

  1. Unhappy
  2. Aloof, uninterested/withdrawn
  3. Unusually reserved
  4. Seems nervous and afraid
  5. Shows unusual behaviour or looks disturbed

Even under the above tremendous pressures, each child has a different absorption capacity. As a parent, we need to develop such a bond with them that we can read their unsaid words, silent body language, etc. If we suspect some turmoil, we should be available for him at the cross roads. As the right moment occurs, he may share his miseries with us. We can’t be over inquisitive or nosey- especially if the child is older and a self-driven individual who wants to assess his own developmental capacity. He may share with parents once the trouble is overcome as he reflects back and relieves himself. It is a moment of growth and wisdom for him.

What does it mean to be your kid’s counselor?

  1. Your children feel comfortable to open their personal matters before you. (They can unload the emotional garbage which might include crying, blaming, accusing, swearing, etc.)
  2. They feel safe to share their worries and most personal concerns with you. (He needs to feel heard completely with no hurdles, judgments, rebukes, threat of punishment, negative reaction from your side as a parent.)
  3. They consider you wise and trustworthy and therefore value your advice. (Perceived credibility is the actual credibility.)
  4. You can easily know when your child is disturbed and need support. (He might withdraw, stop eating, slam doors, look moody, try to be aloof, etc.)
  5. All of you feel good and relaxed after the session. (The emotional strength of the parent needs to be developed so that he/she doesn’t end up needing a counseling session after hearing out his/her child’s worries.)

 The counseling framework for parents
1. Prepare yourself
Do your mental homework before approaching the child. Imagine all possible problems and their causes, the kid’s perception of the problem, expectation of the people around the kid from him, etc.

2. Spare time for a session
Find a peaceful place and choose the best time.

3. Be happy and stay calm
Tend to your own emotional landscape so as not to react before the kid when he is unloading his emotions before you. It is essential to conquer your own mood first.

4. Encourage your child to express his problem
Convey care and warmth through your body language, facial expressions and tone, etc.

5. Listen actively
This means no interruption, no pretend listening while you are multi-tasking, etc.

6. Rephrase what you understand
This is important so that the child’s intention and purpose is understood with clarity and no miscommunication happens.

7. Acknowledge the feelings of your child
Albert Einstein once lamented: “Why is it that nobody understands me, yet everybody likes me.” Taking care of your child is easy. Taking care of your child’s feelings is challenging.

8. Ask about the causes and expectations
Analyze the problem and situation with your child. Don’t offer an immediate solution or suggestion yourself.

9. Give confidence and offer helpful tips
Let the child take a responsible decision himself.

Lastly and most importantly, children will learn best, when they are trusted, valued, owned, encouraged and made comfortable. This does not mean that we surrender to their whims and fancies, let them disown their responsibilities, bend and break the family rules. It certainly means that we treat them with respect and empower them to take value-based decisions in life.

Adapted by Rana Rais Khan from an interactive workshop at L2L Academy Karachi

(Part 1) Parents as Counsellors

counselling-in-the-workplace-1When was the last time your child came to you to share something? A survey conducted in the city of Karachi with a sample of significant number of kids/teenagers indicated the following results:

They were asked: “Who are those five people in your life you can trust blindly to share your inner most troubles/stressors in life?” The percentage that included one parent or both parents at the fourth position or maybe last position among the five preferred individuals was as follows:

77% – 11 – 14 years

60% – 14 – 17 years

30% – 17 – 20 years

Appalling responses surfaced. The younger age group could somewhat trust either of the parents but not both. The older group was most comfortable with a virtual friend. The oldest sought counseling from complete strangers. In their sight, the parents were too naïve or outdated to understand their issues. They felt worse, when confided in their parents.

We might fathom this better, if we take the example of a mirror. What is the function of a mirror? It reflects our image with all its beauties and flaws. And we all love to admire or gaze at ourselves in it. However, the day this mirror finds a voice and dares to offer judgmental phrases, its opinions and perceptions about us, how many of them will survive? Maybe none. Their fate will inevitably be shattered.

A counselor is similarly a person, who places a balm on an emotionally injured person’s wounds. He does not cut open gashes with his scalpel to infect the wound further. The role of a mentor steps further to help analyze the injured, as to why and how he is injured in the first place. But that comes at a later stage. Clearly, there is a difference between the roles of a counselor and mentor.

Role of parents as a counselor

Our children today are passing through an era, where they face a lot of turbulence and challenges socially and emotionally. Firstly, Allah (swt) has placed within every person a mechanism to subside his hurt feelings. This threshold again varies from person to person. If a person is unable to settle these inner disturbed emotions, his family serves the purpose of ideal counseling. Why?

If an external counselor is hired, he is an unknown authority who is unaware of the affected persons’ context, background, strengths and weaknesses, etc. A close relative or friend again will have to brief the expert thoroughly. This expert in light of his learning will review the case and offer an expert advice which may or may not work eventually. But family and specially parents who are a natural institution of counseling must be able to dissolve up to 90% approximately of problems in their kid’s life. They brought them into this world, raised them up, can read their face and feelings like no one can, provided they share a special bond.

Realistically in order to become ideal counselors, parents need to learn some qualities. It is pivotal for them to understand that if they do not serve the role of effective counselors, their child will go somewhere else to address his needs, as humans do not live in isolation. But this counseling will be at the cost of values. It could be to a friend, who offers them relief in the form of an innocent ice cream or a puff of a cigarette or indulgence into drugs or alcohol or other profanities, etc. It could be simply an icon on their internet screen that is constantly available and luring “Do you want to chat?”

And this does not mean that the kid is bad/evil. It must be understood that when an individual is emotionally disturbed, three areas are negatively influenced: his thinking ability, his behaviour and his creative potential. He is so desperate to find relief that he can’t rationalize his own choices. As parents, the first thing that needs to be done is to pull the child out of disturbance and bring him towards normalization.

What could be the probable pressures in your kid’s life?

  1. Academic
  2. Parental
  3. Peer

On top of the above puberty/adolescence brings its own physical changes that create havoc in a child’s body now transforming into an adult. This is a time when most kids are emotionally weak and vulnerable.

What kind of perceptions a child is locked into and might travel through in a month about himself and others?

  1. I cannot be good at studies.
  2. Teacher will be angry at my work.
  3. Subject is difficult and boring.
  4. Everybody will laugh at my question.
  5. I never have a good idea to share in class.
  6. I am not intelligent and creative. I am stupid.
  7. I cannot speak well.
  8. Teacher does not like me.
  9. I always have disturbing thoughts.
  10. I don’t know whether I am right or wrong.
  11. I wish I was born free.
  12. Nobody is pleased by my work.
  13. Nobody likes to be my friend.
  14. Nobody likes me.
  15. I soon forget what I learn.
  16. I can’t solve any problem on my own.
  17. Nobody understands me or trusts me.
  18. I am a bad boy/girl.
  19. I quickly get bored, don’t know what to do.
  20. I feel restricted; I don’t have freedom in my life. Everyone scolds me.

Some children think any of the above for a while, unstuck themselves and move on. Those are the ones, who are intellectually developed and emotionally secure. Other kids think and get stuck in their negative perceptions and begin to lose themselves. That’s when they underperform.

[To be continued Insha Allah…]

Adapted by Rana Rais Khan from an interactive workshop at L2L Academy Karachi.

Discovering Your Middle Child

MiddleChildAs I was sitting on my prayer mat with hands lifted in Dua, tears were rolling on my cheeks. After performing my Isha prayer, I was begging to Allah (swt) for Sanya! My daughter Sanya (10) is the second of three siblings.

What is wrong with her? Your query is just! Have you ever come across the picture, in which a happy newborn is in the lap of her happy eldest brother, while the middle child is angrily ignoring both siblings? The caption reads: “The moment he realized, he was now the middle child!”

This middle child of mine is a problem for me. Sanya – a problem child. Should I say it for my talented daughter? Let me share my feeling about her!

Maria is twelve and Yasir is six. The eldest and youngest are quite reasonable, while Sanya always creates a problem for me. She disapproves of what is favourable to all of us. When I have to accommodate my offspring for any program, a refusal by her disturbs me, for then I have to revise my suggestion. Her argument in each matter creates a dispute. She is harsh in commenting. What and why goes wrong with her? Let me share some incidences.

Both the girls went with their aunt to a neighbour, who served fruits to eat. Maria tasted all of them pleasantly, while Sanya coiled and declined. The daughter of the host, who was a professional doctor and mother of a girl, exclaimed “That is why her (Maria’s) skin is glowing – she eats fruits.” I felt the toxicity of her remark that resulted in disturbing Sanya for weeks; but I must say she didn’t forget that negative response.

She went with me to a social gathering and was standing beside me. A girl from the guests pointed towards her eyes and said to her companion, “Look! Such beautiful eyes!” I noticed anger on Sanya’s face, which she later expressed as follows: “Look at this girl! She didn’t notice my poor health, just my eyes… the only good thing I have… she has a devil eye on them.”

I didn’t know that girl, but felt sorry about Sanya’s gesture on her comment. However, soon after that incident, Sanya’s eyesight got weak and doctor suggested wearing glasses. I am afraid she would relate it to that remark she got.

She is cross when her fellows are joyfully excited over a matter – either going on a picnic, getting the news of a teacher’s absence or getting a free period; whatever makes all laugh and enjoy, she over-reacts about it. The noise in the class makes her unhappy. When her siblings get any advantage by breaking any rule, she teases them. All these acts depict discipline in her nature, of course; but her isolation makes her more frustrated.

Surprisingly, all near and dear ones are concerned about her. What is she doing? What is her plan/schedule? Everybody wants to follow her. This concern makes her angry or maybe a little proud, I don’t understand. Being a child, she should like being cared about – why does she react negatively to all this care? It leaves me puzzled and worried. I get especially embarrassed during social interaction.

It does not mean that she has no good qualities. She is the most obedient child of mine. She gets up in the morning at my one call! She helps me with such domestic chores as washing dishes, spreading the cover, answering the calls, teaching younger brother and more. She is sharper and more confident than her sister, which satisfies me, as she can defend herself in any situation. May Allah (swt) save my children!

She has a good sense of humour. I enjoy her wittiness! She is definitely an extrovert. Then why pretend as an introvert? It confuses me! I know she has leadership qualities, because her friends and cousins try to follow her. I wish she would turn into a polite, contented girl; an expressive and determined girl, who didn’t like the society and termed its people as hypocrites. I feel helpless. I think she needs some counseling.

I was sitting on a prayer mat, thinking about how my life started with kids. Maria, the first born in both families (maternal and paternal) was a beautiful and adorable child. She gained so much love and care along with many gifts from grandparents, uncles and aunties!

Sanya, born just 18-eighteen months after Maria, was totally different from her sister. As she grew up, everybody noticed she was more active, expressive and creative. Her learning was pronounced. She started reciting poems at a very early stage.

At the age of four, she was admitted to school. It is a big change for a child, but for her it was harder, as she missed her first week of school because of her sickness. Plus I was in hospital, as my son was born. Although I am not a psychologist, but as a mom I realized that her absence in the first week of school did not allow her to interact properly with teacher and fellows. My assumption could be wrong, but the reality is that she had a class of nearly forty hyper students; when they cried, she coiled.

Today, at each PTM (parent-teacher meeting), teachers complain about her lack of interest in class. But the fact is that she is never given a chance in co-curricular activities. She is a good writer. She expresses her thoughts eloquently through her writing. In the last PTM, I complained to the teacher about her ignorance towards Sanya: “Many of her compositions have been published in different magazines.” In a lighter mode, I told her that “in future, when she becomes a famous writer, you would say she was your student; but now, you do not even acknowledge her for her skill. This is her last year with you – she will be moving on to secondary class. Kindly, take notice and cooperate.” The teacher was surprised and promised to look into the matter. But unfortunately, when next day she was shown the magazines, she remarked, “These are published due to her grandfather!” It dimmed Sanya’s delight, and the worst was that teacher lost all the magazines having the record of her compositions! Due to all this, Sanya got upset, which affected her health.

Recently, she misbehaved with me at the time of supper. I was hurt, so was praying about her. I know she has a remarkable personality, but how can I make an ease for her? I cry and feel that Allah (swt) is answering me:

“I gifted you a unique creature of mine! Would you thank me?” Oh yes, I take the challenge, trying to stand up. Then somebody came and put her head on my lap: “Mama, sorry – I have taken bread with curd.” She was crying. I hugged her. She was Sanya, my little angel. I kissed her shining eyes and wet cheeks. I have to handle her with the care she deserves.