First and foremost, we need to understand the perceptions of parents regarding Tarbiyah. Tarbiyah is a natural part of life in the safety of a family home. It’s not a rehabilitation centre procedure, where people go for treatment. Tarbiyah is about nurturing the best aspects of human nature and not about fixing a problem. Thus, Tarbiyah of children becomes a sacred and challenging yet enjoyable task. It does not become a ‘yelling issue’ or ‘I told you so about 1000 times’, or ‘stop doing that or else…’ sort of scenario.
We must remember that we live in an economic world. Major problems with teenagers arise because of freedom of choices, mass media and peer pressures. Lack of direction and guidance from parents and school add fuel to fire.
When we think of Tarbiyah, some of the ‘don’ts’ are as follows:
- Don’t lose communication with them! Don’t disconnect with your children in anger or frustration. Very often, parents lose communication with their children, whereas the children have hundreds of ways to communicate. Talk face to face in all cases. Keep in touch through SMS, emails or Facebook, if you have given them these facilities. This will help you to know their friends as well; however, avoid giving the impression that you are spying on them. Kids, especially teenagers, tend to resort to emotional blackmail by saying: “You don’t understand.”
- Don’t teach Islam in isolation. Children need solutions for their problems. Relate day to day events to Aqeedah and practical solutions. When your children claim that you don’t understand them, don’t argue over this statement; rather, take it as an opening statement for further dialogues. Don’t disassociate yourself from their lives. Take an interest in their activities, friends, likes and dislikes. Don’t disrespect their ideas, feelings and suggestions.
- Don’t despair when they have done something wrong. Even if your efforts seem to fail, don’t become unmotivated. Don’t condemn them. Disappointments are a part of parenting, and mistakes are a part of growing up. Don’t use excessive words in anger. Don’t use threats or physical force to get what you want or to express anger. Make Dua. It’s the greatest healer. Clarify what you don’t want them to do from a very early stage. For instance, when your child yells, demonstrate the desired tone.
- Don’t expect immediate compliance all the time. Give a time frame and stick to it, instead of nagging. Don’t compare your child with another sibling or other children. It is most humiliating for them. Don’t discuss your child’s behaviour with others, especially in front of them. Don’t forget to kiss your teenaged kids. They still want physical contact with you.
- Don’t say yes to such social evils as smoking, drugs, dating and outings in late nights. Teenagehood is an experimenting and experiencing age. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘let me do it only once’. Most parents believe their child is drug and dating proof. Sadly, it is a fact that a majority of our youth is involved in one thing or the other. This includes teenagers belonging to religious families as well.
We need to connect our children to the worldview, where all our actions emerge from our religion, with the sources being the Quran, the Sunnah and traditions of the Prophet’s (sa) companions. Our extremely rich Islamic culture and heritage should be practiced to gain success in all fields of life and then in the hereafter. Excellence, or Ihsan, in all aspects is so desirable that Allah (swt) Himself taught us the Dua: “O our Lord, give us the best in this world and the best in the Hereafter and protect us from Hellfire.”