Saadia Syed Ali
One of the more commonly experienced issues in raising teens is the parent being religious while the child being (or trying their hardest to fit into the idea of) ‘your average 21st century teen-next-door’. Often times we have come across mothers, albeit with the best of intentions, shoving Deen down the throats of their children and expecting them to submit without resistance. They are threatened with dire consequences on failure to obey, something that normally does not have lasting positive effects on the (religious) development of the child.
It is high time that we make the standpoint of ‘this how we were raised and this is how I will raise you’ obsolete and be in constant search for newer alternative methods of bridging the gap between the child and deen, and to instill in them the love of Allah (swt), Prophet Muhammad (SA), Quran and Sunnah, rather than scaring them in to it; for no doubt where Allah (swt) is:
- Al-Mudhell (The Giver of Dishonour)
- Al-Muntaqim (The Punisher/Avenger)
- Ad-Darr (The Distressor/The Harmer)
He (swt) is also:
- Dhul-Jalali wal-Ikram (The Lord of Majesty and Generosity)
- Ar-Raoof (The All Pitying)
- Al-Afuww (The Pardoner),
- Al-Barr (The Most Kind)
- Al-Karim (The Generous)
- Al-Ghaffar (The Ever Forgiving)
- Ar-Rahman (The Most Compassionate) and Ar-Raheem (The Most Merciful).
So why not encourage our children to follow deen with logic and reasoning in order for them to attain the love and pleasure of Allah (swt) instead?
Anna Freud in her evaluation of child psychology suggested that children observe their parents from infancy and into their late teens. This puts the parents in a very tough spot because they now must behave in the same way they expect their children to behave in the years to come and must practice the very values they wish their children to have.
The bottom line is: parents must lead by example and not by words alone, as the former has a more lasting impact on the minds of children – you are giving them a visual specimen of model behavior.
Islam encourages mothers to keep children close to them until they are at least seven years of age as a part of their primary conditioning, a practice that has lost its value in today’s time and age. The nanny culture is one of the major reasons why an infant is not given enough opportunity to bond with the mother, hence creating a gap between the two from early on.
Unless timely action is taken to fill this gap, it not only widens but it also turns hearts cold. Because the foundation of the parent-child bond is weak the child will not (want to) understand or comply with the parents’ way of life.
The change however, starts from one’s own self. Today’s article will focus on family centered methods of developing stronger relationship with your children.
A few things that we encourage parents to incorporate in their lives to help set to motion the process of positive change in their children:
- Have family time where all electronic gadgets are switched off, including those of the parents’. Rules must be the same for everyone.
- Engage in fun activities such as board games, charades, hang man and other indoor games.
- Make time for outdoor activities (such as exercise, swimming, beach day, picnics, book fairs, eating out, traveling) to help occupy the minds of the children and distract them from electronic gadgets and social media.
- Have story time where you can read out stories of the Prophets and stories from the life of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (SA). This will help children form a bond of love and respect with Prophet Muhammed (SA), eventually making it easier to follow Sunnah.
- Make time for your children. Once you become a parent other things must become second priority, your top most one must be your children. Get to know each of your children by spending time with them individually as well as family time.
- Teach the elder child to share the responsibility in caring for and grooming the younger ones with you. This will inculcate a sense of responsibility, love and empathy between the siblings.
- Parenting must be a partnership project, where the ‘good-cop/bad-cop’ roles are not assigned and both parents display same mindset and principals rather than the mother being in charge of the yelling and discipline and the father being the breadwinner who spoils. Both parents must be on the same page when it comes to raising their children and both must be equally hands on parents instead of the mother doing the majority of the work of raising children up.
- Although good academic performance must be encouraged, it should not be the focal point of your relationship with your child, especially when he is not performing well. A child not performing well in class is a symptom, not the problem. Get to the root of the problem with detailed discussions. The problem could be in the form of a class bully, a teacher with ineffective communication skills or lack of subject command, a general lack of the child’s aptitude in the subject(s), poor class discipline or a bad social circle etc. The number of students coming to me for individual attention has risen over the years, meaning that students are now finding it difficult to pay attention in class among an average of 25-30 other students. Find schools that focus on individual attention on their students and have smaller number of students per class.
- Remember: if you want your child to respect you and love you, you need to show them how it’s done. Respecting someone has little to do with age. Respect your child by taking in to account the needs of their ego and self esteem. Never embarrass your child when reprimanding them, especially in front of others.
- Make sure to give out lots of hugs and kisses. Children respond positively to physical acts of affection by parents. Encourage your child to show similar ways of expressing love towards you and their siblings. All children need and deserve love.