Parenting by the Horns

bull_by_the_horns_9518Based on an Islamic Online University Webinar

Today we’ll be discussing some of the challenges that we face as fathers and mothers. What does parenting mean to us? How much time do we give to our children? How much time do our children expect from us? Where do we have all that joy in parenting? What we are going to share today is all based on experience and whatever we’ve read and heard.

The first Naseeha that I would like to share with you is what Allah (swt) says in Surah Tahreem. This is what Allah (swt) is saying to all of us as teachers, as students of knowledge and as Daees. He says: “O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell)…” (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Our first responsibility, our first duty that we have, Allah (swt) says is you and your family, save them from the hellfire. Allah (swt) did not tell us to go ahead and save the world because that’s where we have to work on; charity begins at home, Dawah begins from home, good deeds begin from home and it is here we need to start with. We have seen in many families that the husband is a great Daee. He goes around the world talking about Islam whereas his children at home get none of his time. They just keep waiting for him. “When will my father come home? When will my mother come home? When will I get my share of their time?” If only we have to take one Naseeha, if only we have to take one advice, it is this question: “Where are we with regard to our family?” You might be a very polite, fun loving, smiling person outside, but at home people are traumatized with you; people are scared by you. Maybe you are short tempered for a very short time but those short times are very dangerous times. So remember this advice that Allah (swat) gives us. Let us take care of this particular area which is much neglected.

The S4 case study

Let’s go to this case study of a nine year old boy Mubeen and her mother Rashida. Put yourself in the mother’s role now. A lot of relatives have come to visit and like a typical little boy he knows when to get on the mother’s nerve. Mubeen starts howling and crying in front of all the relatives so he can play with the mother’s new S4.

One good advice is not to get any expensive phones. Allah (swt) will save you from this kind of trials. Insha’Allah.

Rashida is now helpless in this case. Mubeen is making havoc and the mother has no idea what to do. What will you do if you are in her place?

Not to create a scene, Rashida handed over the mobile to her son; do you agree or disagree with her?

These situations come up in every home. Actually the built up to this situation was wrong. What we know is that the nine year old is crying. Let us go one scene behind. What was going on in Mubeen’s mind when he started shouting for the s4? Somewhere along the line Mubeen did not get the attention from his mother before the relatives came home. Do you see my point? I am not saying that our children do not misbehave when guests come home; I am just trying to share a parenting technique here. Children know that to get attention we need to create a scene.

There is a rule that during Salah the chest should be facing the Qibla otherwise the Salah is invalid. Although it is a Fiqh rule, the same rule applies to child care. Whenever you talk to children you should be facing them.

There is a rule that during Salah the chest should be facing the Qibla otherwise the Salah is invalid. Although it is a Fiqh rule, the same rule applies to child care. Whenever you talk to children you should be facing them. When you face them when they are calm, they treat you as someone who is caring and concerned. When you face them when they are hyper active and making tantrums, they treat you as someone who is big and bullying them. Remember this golden rule. Do not face them when they are showing tantrums; ignore them or redirect their attention. Give them their due attention beforehand. When children misbehave in public:

  1. Ignore them.
  2. Take them aside and talk to them.
  3. Before going out tell them what you expect from them. A child does not know sometimes what misbehaviour is. Please be reasonable.

Remember that you have to treat the problem, not the child. When you go to the doctor, the doctor diagnoses the disease. Likewise, the child is good; it is not that he is problematic; it is the behaviour that is problematic. Treat the behaviour, not the child.

There was a boy once who said that I love to get lost in the supermarket. His counsellor asked: “What makes you say so? Won’t you cry?”  He said: “No, whenever I get lost, my name is heard on the loud speaker; I love the attention and when I cry, the uncle in the supermarket gives me an ice-cream or a chocolate.” End of the story. Do you realize what children want? They want your undivided attention. This is one simple rule to learn in parenting: children want undivided attention. They want to hear about themselves and they want to be the centre of attention, which actually is the same thing for the spouses, so you can’t become a great father or a mother, before becoming a great husband or a wife.

Children are not absolute little gems that listen to us all the time, that’s why we need to use technique. This is what we call parenting by the horns.

Watch out for Part 2 of this article in which we will discuss two main steps to deal with cribbing children.