Upbringing of children is, unarguably, the toughest of jobs for parents. Not because of unexplainable reasons, the reasons are quite apparent and there is no dearth of seriousness either. The crux of the issue is about the process of training, it demands judicious and sharp focus as the age of children and prerequisites of training keep on changing with time. When it comes to nurturing the children with set standard and lofty values, it becomes still tougher as it involves both parents and children’s harmonization to the task of training.
Again, there are overwhelming evidences that due to lack of proper training system or ineffective parenting, the family encounters with serious issues and the children face many problems throughout their lives.
Nevertheless, barring the difficulties, today’s era has an imprint of tireless efforts of parents to nourish and see their children grow to noble adults. Creating geniuses and having dream children demand utmost care and a solid training process. A process enriched with noble contents of developing thoughts and series of sustained efforts.
The present era has portrayed lots of modules of parenting, right from teaching the kids how to eat and sleep to help them understand the realities of life, there are many. To name a few, we can consider two popular methods of parenting, first based on the autocratic style and the second democratic style.
The autocratic style of parenting
The autocratic style is like parents are exercising their authority over their children, totally denying the self-esteem, a strict form of discipline, an absolute no to the interests and inclination of the children.
To be precise, we can summarize the autocratic style of parenting as:
- Absence of love for children
- Obeying of orders without question
- Punishments for disobedience
- Lack of encouragement
- Non acceptance of children’s interest.
This authoritarian style may inculcate a kind of fear of parents among children. It may compel them to obey as and when ordered, but it exerts very bad effects in due course of time. Children start reacting to this dominant method as they reach to adolescent, their magnitude of revolt increases with the increase in their age and sense of understanding.
The democratic style of parenting
Effective cooperation between parents and their children, collaboration for doing well is what forms the crux of democratic style of parenting. It is always stamped with a positive response from the children and a growing interest in the parents. You can summarize the method the following way:
- It’s a positive way of training
- Children will have their say
- Parents evolve a strategy with likes and dislikes of their children
- Encouragements and rewards
- Soft approach towards ill response of the children.
Through democratic style, parents succeed in forming a common platform of training. They even succeed in acquiring mutual consensus for developing of their children’s strengths and annihilation of weaknesses.
Critically looking at the module, what appears best is a collaborative or democratic style of parenting where both parents and child go hand in hand with the training requisites.
The Prophetic Style of Parenting
If we look at the way Prophets of Allah (peace be upon them all) have trained their children, we find a democratic style. It reveals method of parenting as well as the dynamics of training. Just go through the following verses of the Quran:
- To sacrifice his son in the way of Allah, to make him aware of what Allah has commanded, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) had mutual consultation with his son Prophet Ismail (AS) – see Ch 37 – As-Saffat: 101-107).
- Prophet Yaqoob (AS) admonishes his children in the same consultative way (see Ch 2 – Al Baqarah: 132-133).
- The way Luqman (AS) exhorts his son, further clarifies the democratic method of training the children. See Ch 31: Luqman: 12-19.
Now going ahead, as we are aware that striving for the overall development of children has been made mandatory, with specific reference to our area of functioning. As a father one should remain focus on his children, the same holds good for a mother also. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
Each one of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The ruler is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock. A woman is the shepherd of her husband’s household and is responsible for her flock. (Bukhari & Muslim).
Even the slightest of negligence from this obligation is sure to invite wrath of Allah as the Quran says:
O believers! Prevent yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from God, but do that which they are commanded” (Ch 66 – At Tahreem:6).
If you go ahead with the process of children’s training, the pragmatic and guiding principles welcome your initiative. There are glad tidings also that facilitate your working in accordance with the prescribed principles. Look how beautifully Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) inspires:
The best that a man can leave behind after his death are three things: a righteous child who makes prayers for him, a ceaseless charity whose rewards continue to reach him, and a knowledge that continues to be implemented after him.” (Muslim).
If you look at this saying carefully, it clearly indicates that the means are quite different but there is a bright possibility that your child can be a source of all the three modes of fetching rewards even after death, provided if he is trained to be a person of pious nature.
Another saying of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) again motivates to set a lofty standard:
The best gift from a father to his child is education and upbringing. (Tirmidhi)
Leaving aside even the precious of things, the best gift from a father comprises of an attempt of educating the child for his overall development.
The principles of parenting the younger generation
Keeping in view the importance of training the younger generation and its sacredness, let us delve with some of it’s basic principles
1) The Objectives of training (tarbiyah) should be made clear – At the outset our children should know the objectives of training (tarbiyah). Their perception about training determines their receptiveness towards your admonition and inclination to act accordingly. If they understand the training process with all its comprehensive details, their approach would surely reflect the same and assist in applying themselves harmoniously. Shallow objectives of training and its loose definition will never allow the children to be genius with high intellect and wisdom.
The objectives should have the following, coupled with inclusion of appropriate inputs based on your child’s prevailing conditions:
- Worship of Allah
- Obedience of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
- Respect and obedience of parents
- Purpose of life
- Rights of relatives and neighbors
- Purpose of education
- Enjoining virtues and eradication of evils
- Inculcation of moral values
- Sense of accountability
- Obligations towards society and fellow human beings
2) Enjoin good – Teach your child to form a pulsating relation with virtues. See how much love he has for the good. Teach him in a way that helps him grow exponential to the magnitude of virtues. How would you substantiate the effectiveness of your training is one of the biggest things to understand. There are some reflections; it’s his response to your words and willingness to act accordingly. Be a keen observant and see how far your child’s personality is characterized with virtues like patience, determination, discipline, hard work, truth, honesty, respect, self-less service and high self-esteem.
3) Forbid evil – It should be made quite realistic and pragmatic for the children to adhere to forbidding of evils. Whatever may be the nature of evil, they should be trained in a way that their overall attitude must be a deterrent to the very existence of evils. Train your child in a way he should develop a very strong hatred and dislike towards all sorts of evils. Ensure your child’s personality should be void of evils like, indiscipline, laziness, niggardliness, procrastination, backbiting, negativity, disrespect etc. In addition, you should see how he tries to annihilate the evils around?
4) Patience – Sometimes impatient attitude towards learning results in child’s disinterest and dismal performance. Here, patience should be taught. It’s a key to reliable progress. If the children are taught to be patient and determinant for their studies and preparation, the ultimate result is sure to have long-lasting impacts.
Similarly the children should be taught to bear the discomfort with patience, like if they are denied of playing outside, delay in food preparation, scolding of the elders, feuds with brothers or sisters. The treasure of patience is a great asset; let your child understand its essence and cautiously cultivate it.
5) Ensure consistency – It all depends on how you articulate “consistency” to help your child understand its true spirit? Precise accuracy and regularity of time and action is what we call as consistency. It’s one of the great strengths that make child stand tall in favorable and unfavorable circumstances. Consistency comes in many shades. It can’t be ascribed to a single action.
It has to be made mandatory for the children to stick to a disciplined plan. Beginning with morning activities to the closing ones in the night, a child should depict accurate form of discipline. Like regular to the school, disciplined in the classroom, productive usage of the leisure periods, healthy involvement in co-curricular activities, straight back to home after the classes, involvement in sports activities, completion of homework, helping brothers and sisters, good conversations with parents, healthy eating habits, going early to bed……
Obviously, the activities are routine ones, but they strengthen your child’s belief about consistency if performed with precise regularity. This invaluable quality, helps the child get due advantage and develop required traits for lively attitudes at home, excellent academic records in education and a disciplined life thereafter. The parents have a great say in ensuring consistency among the little ones.
6) Cultivate steadfastness – During different phases of life, your child is bound to experience the taste of success and achievements, and to some extent failures or below par expected results. You should make your child humble to their success. “And miles to go before I sleep” kind of attitude has to be developed so that no success or achievements can push them back with a sense of pride and overconfidence. Make them humble and polite. Success comes with a down-to-earth attitude; the arrogance is quite detrimental to progress of your child.
The attitude has to be the same in case of below par performance or failures. Let them be a mountain of steadfastness. Your style of teaching should imbibe in their mind that with continued struggle anything can be achieved.
7) No Negativity – There should be a keen observation with regard to the habitual development in the children. Due to absence from home and involvement with friends of varied nature, they might develop one or the other kind of negative traits, such as lies, deceptions, backbiting, arrogance, etc.
Whenever you come across with their negative traits, you should make it clear through displeasure that you strongly dislike their attitude, and through corrective gestures let them know that you are seriously in favor of their overall development.
Strong words of condemnation and appropriate punishments are the means that let your child understand that their behavior is not going to be tolerated any more. The moment a child notices the displeasure of parents over his one or the other negative traits, he tries to refrain. The parent’s displeasure actually averts child’s negativity. The timely displeasure is a reliable corrective measure.
8) Respect for Parents & Teachers – The important agencies that help a child grow morally and intellectually are parents and teachers. Its visualization is quite important; our children should be taught the dignity and status of both parents and educators, without which they can never reach to the true essence of training, neither the teaching of a teacher nor the admonition of parents will prove to be beneficial for them.
9) Teach limitations of mentoring – Children should also be taught to be aware of the limitations of training and mentoring. Here a line of demarcation between “who’s right and whose is not”, should be drawn clearly. The methods of mentoring and nurturing of parents and teachers should not clash. Rather, it should be perfectly synchronized; a mutual coordination between the two agencies of training is of prime importance to ensure the same. Our children have to be trained in a way that they get a fair amount of guidance from parents as well as teachers.
10) Study and preparation not just for exams – Never allow your children to prepare or study just for the sake of exams or tests. Else this will have an adverse effect over their preparation and memory power. The time being studies facilitate to remember things for a shorter duration of time. Later on studied lessons will be a thing of the past for them. When required to study the same subject, it appears all new, thus resulting in a kind of hatred or dislike towards that particular subject (s). Preparation should always be for knowing the subject and delving with the details of it.
11) Make your child an embodiment of humane values – Soft spoken, kind hearted, helping nature, sweet dialect, and consolable gesture….these positive traits will articulate your little child to a tall genius in the future. A timely advice, a situational admonition and a keen observation of their routine activities will surely help in making their personalities an epitome of the human values.
12) Empower your children – The process of empowerment fairs better if aligns with slow and steady principle. The following ways can be helpful:
- Let your children understand what their persona is.
- Let them know about God and the ways to worship Him.
- Teach them how to invoke God and the ways to remember Him.
- Relate their sense of understanding with the teachings of Divine Scriptures.
- Help them memorize the Divine Scriptures.
- Develop their personality with high moral and spiritual values.
- Suggest some good books to read and help them understand the important parts.
- Let them always stay focused on acquisition of knowledge.
- Teach them to engage in productive work.
- Advice them to make optimum use of time.
- Teach them an art of strengthening their strengths.
- Teach them an art of articulating their weaknesses into strengths.
- Tell them about the things that they want to understand.
- Specify the things with which they should play.
- Advice them to do small things on their own.
- Encourage if they take any initiative.
- Encourage them to take decisions related to their day to day affairs.
- Never discourage if anything goes wrong.
- Inspire them with motivating stories.
- Read out story books for them.
- Advise them how to make friends and how to maintain friendship.
- Let them know that they are the best guard for themselves, and protection of their characters, chastity and dignity is their prime responsibility.
- Let them accompany you when you are with your friends at home.
- Let them know the responsibilities they are going to be entrusted in future.
- Encourage them to understand what they have studied from their syllabus.
- Develop helping nature and advise them to help their friends.
- Introduce yourself and let them know how you have lived.
- Let them know your likes and dislikes.
- Help them set lofty goals.
- Review their day’s activities before going to bed.
Raise hands to elevate your child’s destiny
Let us conclude the discussion on parenting with some prayers to be asked to the Merciful Allah. Let us ensure better present and promising future of our children through uttering the impeccable words and raising hands with all sincerity. The Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has a rich treasure of meaningful supplications:
O my Lord! Make me one who establishes regular prayer and (also) from my offspring, our Lord! And accept my invocation (Ch 14 – Ibrahim: 40).
Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous. (Ch 25 – Al Furqan: 74)
O my Lord, dispose me that I may be thankful for Your blessing with which You have blessed me and my father and mother and that I may do righteousness , well-pleasing to You and make me righteous also in my seed ,surely I turn to You and surely I am of those who submit (Ch 46 – Al Ahqaf: 15).
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) used to seek refuge in Allah for his grandsons Hassan and Husain, saying: “I seek refuge for both of you in the perfect words of Allah from every devil and every poisonous thing and from the evil eye which influences.” He would then say: “your father sought refuge in Allah by them for Ismail and Ishaq. (Abu Dawood).
Help your child memorize the following supplications:
سُبْحَانَكَ لاَ عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلاَّ مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ
Glory be to you, we have no knowledge except what you have taught us. Verily, it is You, the All-Knower, the All-Wise. (Ch 2 – Al Baqarah: 32).
رَّبِّ زِدْنِى عِلْمًا
O my Lord! Advance me in Knowledge (Ch 20: Ta Ha: 114).
اللَّهُمَّ لا سَهْلَ إلَّا مَا جَعَلْتَهُ سَهْلاً وَ إنْتَ تَحْعَلُ الْحزْنَ إذَا شِئْتَ سَهْل
O Allah! There is nothing easy except what You make easy, and You make the difficult easy if it be Your Will (Ibn Hibban).
اَللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْمًا نَافِعًا , وَ رِزْقًا طَيَّبًا , وَ عَمَلاً مُتَقَبَّلاً
O Allah! I ask You for knowledge that is of benefit, a good provision and deeds that will be accepted. (Ibn Majah).
اللَّهُمَّ إنِّي أعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَ الْحَزَنِ ، وَ الْعَجْزِ وَ الْكَسَلِ ، وَ الْبُخْلِ وَ الْجُبْنِ ، وَ ضَلَعِ الدِّيْنِ وَ غَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ
O Allah! I seek refuge in You from grief and sadness, from weakness and from laziness, from miserliness and from cowardice, from being overcome by debt and from being overpowered by men (other people) (Bukhari).
اللَّهُمَّ اِنِّى اَسْئَلُكَ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ كُلِّه عَاجِله وَ اجِلِه مَا عَلِمْتُ مِنْهُ وَ مَا لَمْ اَعْلَمْ
O Allah! I ask You for all the good which is in the present or in the future, which I know and which I do not know. (Tirmidhi).
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Muhammad Abdullah Javed – Dec’ 2016