I’m looking for the manual— you know the one that tells you all about how to raise a kid?
Okay, so there’s no instruction booklet for raising children, but there’s still a responsibility to use all the resources we have, right? I’m the least qualified to be handing out parenting tips (I’m not even a parent!) but over the years, I’ve learnt a lot. So, here’s my tuppence worth.
First is a given. Never, ever, ever, underestimate
the power of Duaa. Making Duaa for your children even before you have them is the best place to start. What’s better, the Duaas are already in the Quraan and what more beautiful Duaas are there than the ones made by previous Prophets, who were friends of Allah ﷻ, for their own children? Be consistent in making Duaa for your children even if you think it’s trivial (full marks in exams?). And, if you really want something, then don’t miss Tahajjud Salah. If you don’t wake up to ask Allah ﷻ, The Most High, when He’s descended to the lowest heavens to listen to us, then you don’t really want it.
- Use the Manual we DO have!
Parenting is not something new and parents have had to adapt their methods and skills according to the generation of children. The Quraan and Sunnah are our guides so use this priceless tool! If you’re still unsure about certain things and how to go about them Islamically, speak to your local Imam for advice. We cannot ignore the Hadith about starting children praying at seven and then at fifteen, when our teenager would rather watch football than catch the last ten minutes of Asr, suddenly lash out at them about how hot the fire of Jahannam will be! There is wisdom in every command ordained upon this Ummah from Allah ﷻ and His Rasul ﷺ so let’s put our full trust in them.
If your child was to ask you a question, or ask for advice, open the Quraan and Sunnah with them and advise them through the lives of the Sahabah and Prophets (upon them all be peace). Let’s teach them to rely on our two greatest tools in every aspect of their lives.
- Role Model
You are your child’s very first iconic figure from the moment they are born. Children inherently absorb so many things parents don’t even mean for them to. They listen and see everything. What they see is what they will do and to tell them, “Do as I say and not as I do,” is simply not good enough. If you pray where your child can see you, then soon enough they will mimic your movements even if they’re too young to understand what they’re doing. How happy my Nabi ﷺ would be to see such a sight! Take them to the Masjid from a young age and let them love being there! You are their focal point and their world when they are younger and they want to be just like you when they grow up (they usually change their minds later), so teach them through modelling everything you can whilst it lasts!
Parents cannot create an environment of television, free-mixing etc., and then expect their children to be the Awliyaa of Allah ﷻ. C’mon, let’s get real. The environment parents raise their children in has to be conducive to raising strong leaders of the Ummah and plays one of the biggest roles in their upbringing. Get rid of your filthy magazines from your shelves and your music CD collections (no matter how rare of a collector’s item they are, they go). Create a routine where no one leaves the house without reciting some Quraan and make that a habit that they inculcate within them for the rest of their lives. Have a bookshelf in every room with age-suitable Islamic books for them to read. There’s enough reputable Islamic literature out there for everyone! Engage with them, learn with them and make it fun! Set aside a daily five minutes’ Halaqah and select a Hadith to talk about; have a weekly Prophet’s story time and make it exciting; have them research a topic and present it to the family as a weekend project. There is so much to do and to keep children busy no matter how old they are!
They must also feel safe. Being good parents doesn’t just mean catering to their physical needs, providing food and a roof over their heads. Parenting is so, so much more. If your child had an issue (and teenagers have an endless list of those), who is the first person they would turn to? Would it be you? Really? You want it to be you, but have you created an environment and relationship where they’d feel comfortable talking to you without having you lashing out some horrible punishment or rebuking them to the point where they’d never speak about another issue ever again? If parents can’t guide, then who will? Be their friend, their guide, their mentor, but draw the line. You’re the parent and if they forget that sometimes, remind ‘em who’s boss.
- Be Just
Children are quick to notice how their siblings are being treated in comparison to themselves and once they’ve established there’s some form of favouritism going on, it doesn’t end well. Never, ever favour any of your children over another. In simpler terms, the eldest doesn’t get the stick all the time and the youngest doesn’t have first dibs at everything, neither through any fault of their own. This way, we’re also teaching them to be fair in every matter in their lives. That also includes gender inequalities. Yes, their roles are different so we approach them differently but there can still be equality in different ways.
- Never compare your children to anyone else’s
That’s not even fair. Your child is unique and their abilities are different. Face it, you’re never going to have a perfect child. Where they excel in some aspects, they’ll need polishing in others, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy than the Ahmeds’ kid next door. Your child’s abilities must be celebrated and praised and then watch them naturally flourish through your encouragement. Don’t create a bitter resentment in them by comparing them to their friends. They are different so
- Show some love!
Yes, you wouldn’t feed them and clothe them and pay the bills if you didn’t love them (blah, blah), but is it really going to kill you to say the three words? In such a promiscuous world, wouldn’t you rather they heard them from you than (ummm) someone else? If you don’t explicitly show them, they’ll look for someone who will. Be generous in your affection towards them and for God’s sake, kiss your children. Remember the Hadith about the bedouin with ten children? Exactly.
Discipline them, but follow it up later with some kind words. You can text the world, but your own child? Surprise them with a text at any random time everyday and see how you light up their world (really!). With constant naggings and telling offs, your child needs to know that at the end of it all, you really do love them.
I could go on and on, but these are my top seven I think! May Allah ﷻ grant us all offspring who will be the coolness of our eyes and give us the Tawfeeq as parents or when we become parents InshaaAllah, who emulate every aspect of the lives of the Prophets and Sahaabahs (upon them all be peace) before us.
May our sons have the faith of Ismaeel Ibn Ibraheem (A), may their bravery equate to the likes of Khalid Ibn Waleed (R), and may they emulate the modesty of Uthmaan Ibn Affaan (R).
May our daughters love like Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid (R), may they be as steadfast as Aasiyah Bint Muzahim (A), and may their strength be of Maryam Bint Imraan (A).
Parents and non-parents alike, I would love to read your top tips in the comments below InshaaAllah!
Zainab Bint Husain