By Shaykh Saleem Bhimji,
Courtesy of Ahlulbayt TV
What is Parenting?
In a nutshell, parenting is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood.
As followers of a Divinely revealed religious tradition, Islam, we appreciate the fact that all of these areas of promotion and support must take place within the legal framework of the teachings of the Qur’an and the guidance of Prophet Muhammad and his immaculate successors – the Ahlul Bayt, and other worthy individuals who followed them.
It is not simply enough to “make children” – rather to be considered as a parent – be it a mother or father – one must rise to the occasions and ensure that their children have had all aspects of their lives taken care of – both the temporal aspects and also the spiritual arena nurtured and maintained – to the best of the parents’ abilities.
“Requirements” of Parenting
There are three prime areas which parents/guardians need to ensure that they look after when they take on this great responsibility of working with their children to make them the best human beings possible. These are actually basic life requirements and are a necessity for all people to have and enjoy without which life has the potential to be thrown into turmoil.
1. Physical Security & Development
1. Physical Security & Development: The safety of a child’s body and life
It goes without saying that all people need to have safety and security, and for this, we see that nations spend millions of dollars to ensure that the safety and well-being of its citizens is maintained.
2. Intellectual Security & Development
2. Intellectual Security & Development: The conditions in which a child’s mind can develop
It is not enough to be ‘physically safe’ but one must also have intellectual security – they must live with the knowledge that they are given the tools to grow and mature mentally and that they will be protected from intellectual harms and evils.
3. Emotional Security & Development
3. Emotional Security & Development: To help protect a child’s psyche
At the third level, children especially need to be given emotional security so that they can plant their roots and mature into young men and women, while being afforded emotional security, and this aspect is mostly formed while in the house, under the care of one’s direct family, extended family and friends whom one is brought into contact with on a daily basis.
In these and all other areas of life, the Noble Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt have given us direct words of guidance. For our purposes, we reflect on three such teachings and seek to better understand how we can implement them in our day to day lives with our children.
Lesson 1: Play with your children – AS A CHILD!
The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, has said, “Whoever has or is around children should play with them as a child!”
An important part of play for young children is to play with their parents, and there should be sometime for this every day. A toy company some years ago asked a large number of five year olds what they would like for Christmas, and their survey found that many children wanted more time with their parents!
It is NOT about how many games or toys you get your children, it is not about having the latest video game system and an 80” LCD TV to play them on; it is not about how many satellite dishes and thousands of “on demand” channels you give your children, nor is it about anything else which you THINK they want – if the survey noted above is correct, then children just wanted MORE TIME with their parents.
Many times, parents are too busy with work commitments, business trips, personal engagements and trying to save the world and they don’t have enough time for their children and so they let them be baby-sat with electronics. This them becomes a very affordable way to “deal” with our children, however cutting ourselves off from our children and their day to day lives will definitely cause issues in the future. The father or mother who “today” don’t have time for their children will find that tomorrow, when their children are in their teens, they will not have any time for their parents.
Lesson 2: Fulfill your promises!
The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family, has said, “Have love for your children and show compassion towards them and when you promise them something, then live up to your promise since indeed they do not recognize you except as the one who sustains them.”
Kids live in their emotions, and when they hear something being promised to them, they get very excited. They can picture the promise happening and keep it with the mind in a way that is much more powerful than we are able to. For this reason, they will not ever forget what you promise them! So don not even think about making a promise that you might not be able to keep.
How many times have we as parents loaded up the car to go on a trip out of town and sometime during our travel, the kids begin to get bored or fidgety after being in their car seat for so long. They begin to fuss about and in order to calm them down or “keep them quiet”, the father will promise the children an ice cream or a donut or some toy if they just “be quiet”.
However once the children go back to reading or playing and the opportunity arises for the father or mother to fulfill their promise, they back-track and do not live up to their side of the bargain! In many instances, the only reason the parents or caregivers make such a false promise is to keep the children quiet and the parents have no desire or intention to actually fulfill their side of the bargain.
This is something which, as the Prophet has shown has is something which needs to stop as the children look to their parents as their only source of nourishment. They don’t really “fully understand” Allah and that that He is the provider or that it is through Him that we are granted blessings – they only look to the parents as their means of survival and if we break this bond with them and are dishonest towards them, who knows the outcomes such an act will have on them.
In addition, from a Quranic perspective, fulfilling one’s promise is an obligation which Allah makes reference to many times in the Qur’an that a believer is one who “fulfills his promise” and that he will be questioned on the Resurrection Day about promises which he made but did not keep – so not only will this affect a parent’s own spiritual ranking, but it will also affect the children’s perception of the parents and ultimately the religion.
(to be continued)