Carrying on from my last piece on Raising Children with Faith, today I focus on raising your child with L O V E.
We will all fiercely declare that we love our children. Of course, we do, but do they feel it? And that’s another thing, if you want your child to be engaged in faith, they should feel your love for the faith and for them too, not just a forced preaching of what they should and should not engage in.
This month at my wellbeing practise I have had an influx of children ranging from five to fourteen some of them with crippling social anxiety, others with unhealthy attachments to friends, others with gadget addictions and restlessness and insomnia. It had been unsettling; on the outset their parents were concerned and loving. But should you ask the child what they wish they had more of, nobody said, ‘the latest iPhone’ ‘more money’, or ‘popularity at school,’ (a common teen theme). These were the answers, surprisingly:
‘I wish mum had more time for me.’
‘I wish my daddy could help me when I’m stuck.’
‘I wish my mum would hear how unkind she is when she’s angry. She’s always angry.’
‘I wish my parents would talk happy words to me more.’
‘I wish I could go shopping with my mum more.’
It got me thinking, that as a mum of three I wasn’t around a lot for my children, yet they were incredibly loving towards me. I am constantly kissed, praised, appreciated and needed by all of my offspring. I thought about our lifestyle and there are a few things we do regardless of how busy the day is.
It brings me into the 5 Love Languages, as identified by Dr. Gary Chapman. The love languages being;
To identify your child’s love language, it’s as simple as identifying what they ask from you most and what they do with you most, without you initiating it. So, my eldest hugs and kisses me openly, normally my hands, his love language being TOUCH.
My middle child is always asking for ‘alone time’ it can be playing a game, shopping or watching TV, his would-be Q U A L I T Y T I M E.
And my youngest is always leaving me happy notes around the house and little handcrafted gifts, she is a mix of P O S I T I V E A F F I R M A T I O N S and G I F T S. When I reciprocate, there is an instant shift in atmosphere in the house. The children are happier, willing to talk more, they’re more forgiving towards one another, and laugh collectively.
Before the book was written by Gary Chapman, we as Muslims, have the incredible advantage of the example our Prophet SAW set when engaging with children, his or not. We can only hope to have an atom of his best but we can certainly strive to follow in his steps. This is what is reported through numerous sources.
1. TOUCH: The Prophet (SAWS) was incredibly loving towards all children and had an abundance of hugs and kisses for them as an example of his mercy and love for them. It was reported that Abu Huraira RA said that al Aqra’ bin Habis saw Allah’s Beloved kissing Al Hassan (the Prophet’s grandson). He (al Aqra) said, ‘I have ten children and I have never kissed any of them.’ To which the Prophet replied, ‘He who does not show mercy (towards his children) no mercy will be shown to him.’ SAHIH MUSLIM.
2. TIME: Allah’s Rasool took an active interest in children’s lives, whether his progeny or not, and let’s not forget, the Messenger had a busier schedule than any of us. He bore the responsibility of the Ummah and was an example to and for them. But when the pet bird of young child, Abu Umair, died, the Prophet SAW went out of his way to console him. This was reported by Anas bin Malik:
"The Messenger of Allah s.a.w used to come to visit us. I had a younger brother who was called Abu ‘Umair by nickname (kunyah). He had a sparrow which he played with, but it died. So, one day the Prophet s.a.w came to see him and saw him grieving. He asked: 'What is the matter with him?' The people replied: 'His sparrow has died.' He (the Prophet s.a.w) then said: 'Oh Abu ‘Umair! What has happened to the little sparrow?'" ( Sunan Abi Daud)
From the above Hadith, it is obvious that Prophet SAW had immense respect and consideration for children and their interests. The fact that he did not brush away the child’s emotions or seemingly trivial plight, shows that he helped build a relationship with all children that builds upon trust, open communication and validation.
3. POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS: Anas ibn Malik was a young boy when he had the honour of serving the Prophet SAW. It is narrated that during his ten years of service, the Prophet never said a word of rebuke or impatience and admonishment. (Sahih Al Bukhari).
Now in this day and age, we are constantly criticising and putting our children down if they don’t match the perfectionism of social media, or the impossible standards of standardised testing. What we should be doing is guiding them gently, without questioning them. Making supplications and dua for your child is also the Prophetic manner in raising your children.
With this said, we as parents (and I am also guilty of this) keep reiterating that our child should never disrespect us with even an ‘Uff!’ But the above example shows that we should reciprocate this because the Prophet was not harsh in words but very gentle and loving.
4. TRUST & RESPECT: The Prophet SAW entrusted young adults with a fair amount of responsibility which reflected his absolute trust and respect for them. He entrusted a young 17 year old, Usama ibn Zaid R.A with the leadership position in commanding the defence force of Madinah. He also forbade criticism of Usama ibn Zaid.
‘If you are criticising Usama's leadership, you have then criticised his father's leadership from before. By Allah, He was worthy of leadership and he was one of the dearest persons to me, and (now) he (Usama) is one of the dearest to me after him (Zaid)'." Sahih Al Bukhari.
We should not, as parents, be too arrogant or authoritative in asking our children’s opinion or handing them responsibility. I am not great with technology and often ask my eldest boy to help me with content creation and troubleshooting issues.
He is in his element. Similarly, my younger boy loves working with his hands and is an animal lover by nature. So, when I am cleaning the garden, I ensure he is given the key task of organising big tools and planting where he thinks best. My youngest loves going out so I always ask her where would you like to go? Such a simple thing, but she blossoms when I agree to it. Family days out and games nights are organised by our eight year old event planner, Alhamdullilah. This kind of delegating makes children grow, clued up, feel respected and most importantly builds your trust in each other.
Another sign of respect is the immense love the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah RA had for him – and this was because he held her in the same regard. He would invite her to sit where he was sitting, kiss her as a greeting, and hold her hand. She in turn reciprocated. She met like for likeness, and this is a pure and beautiful example of how you can raise your child with faith if you show it through your actions.
Respecting your child is important and this means keeping their secrets confidential, not humiliating them publicly (or even privately) and respecting their privacy.
5. EQUALITY: I cannot stress enough the importance of treating all equally. This is such a common problem at my practise; adults with low self esteem, low confidence and depression come into the clinic. Their marriages are falling apart as they suffer an inferiority complex. When we start peeling layers, it’s always, my parents loved my brother more, favoured sons over daughters.’
The Prophet SAW commanded fairness in the treatment of one’s children. If you give a gift to one then there should be the same for the others. If one’s birthday is celebrated, so should the other child’s birthday be celebrated. There is a theme in the community where the eldest and youngest are spoilt and it allows for the middle child syndrome to be magnified.
Indeed the above are examples of how the Prophet SAW’s actions are an exemplary guide in how we should parent. He has taught us how to treat them well, how to show love for our faith in our actions and how, if we express our love and joy for them correctly, they will be the legacy we leave behind; children who supplicate for their parents long after the parents depart from this world are priceless. We continuously invest in their future, but the real investment is our love in them. It is now our obligation to use these simple but effective tips in raising our amaanah in the best way, especially in a world where haram is now the norm. If we have children firmly rooted in the path of Islam, the haram, by Allah’s will, will not touch them or sway them from the path of Sirat ul Mustakim.
And lastly, I will finish this with our Beloved Prophet SAW’s words:
‘Indeed among the believers with the most complete faith is the one who is the best in conduct & the most kind to his family.’
(Sunan Ar Tirmizi)
A community dedicated to supporting you in your healing journey!