Respecting Our Childen
A significant tool for parents that help them turn their children
into great people.
By: Bushra Zaibak
There is a popular saying: "Behind every great man, is a woman."
There is much truth in that. There are times I do feel, however, that
it should be rephrased: "Behind every great man there are great
parents." Are we going to be the great parents behind our great men
(and women)? Believe it or not, those little munchkins running around
your house are eventually going to be adults. Hard to believe, isn't
it? What are we, the great parents doing to make our mini-humans
A few days after my daughter was born, I wanted to call my doctor
back and ask him if she happened to run into an instruction manual
when she was delivering her. Soon, I realized that there is something
better than an instruction manual. I found all the tips and lessons I
needed in the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
One of the most important points I have come across is respect. I am
not talking about our children respecting us; I am talking about us
respecting our children.How do we respect our children? I asked a few
kids ages 12-16 what they would like from their parents. The most
popular answer was respect. They wanted to be treated like adults.
That is actually an easy demand to be met. There are lots of things
you can do to make them feel like adults without having to buy them
their own house and car.
One thing you can do is to get their opinion on things. For example,
you can ask little Fatima what she thinks of the situation in the
Middle East. Sure her opinion will not stop the Israeli occupation,
but it will definitely make her feel like her opinion matters. If she
feels like her opinion matters then she will feel like she can make a
difference. That is a major ingredient in the making of a great
person. The Qur'an offers a sample of this type of approach. When the
prophet Ibrahim, alayhes salam, was inspired to slaughter his son, he
took his son, prophet Ismael, and asked him what his opinion was. The
Qur'an says: "And when he attained to working with him, he said: O my
son! Surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you;
consider then what you see. He said: O my father! Do what you are
commanded; if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones
Prophet lbrahim did not just come up behind him and kill him. Nor did
he do it while his son was sleeping. He asked him his opinion on this
matter. Prophet lsmael told him to do as he is commanded and insha
Allah he will be patient. What a great answer prophet lsmael gave.
What a great father he had. Some scholars say that prophet lsmael was
as young as seven years old at the time.
Another thing you can do is to be there for your children. Never put
them off when they ask questions, otherwise they will look for their
answers somewhere else. I am sure you do not want that. Quench their
thirst for knowledge by not giving simple one or two worded answers.
For instance, Huda asks her father what he does for a living. He
replies "I am a pharmacist". She asks what a pharmacist does. He
answers "I sell drugs". Then comes career day at school and Mr.
Teacher wants to know what Huda's daddy does for a living. Little
innocent Huda would then proudly raise her hand and say, "My daddy
sells drugs". The next thing you know you will have cops knocking at
your door with a warrant to search your home for illegal drugs.
I know you cannot tell them a never-ending story with each question.
There are times when you are busy or tired or just do not feel like
it. Just try to make good use of the times when you are not busy or
tired. My mother had a great way of quenching our thirst for
knowledge. My mother likes to listen to Qur'an and Islamic lectures
on tape. Every time she hears a story that she thinks was great she
would gather my sisters and I so she can tell us what she just heard.
We felt so smart when we used to go to Saturday School and already
know the story the teacher is explaining.
Another great thing to do is praise them. Everyone loves to feel that
they are appreciated or they are doing a good job. "Noor, you are so
good at that!" or "Ali, you were such a great help today, I do not
know what I would have done without you!" Subhanallah, even my nine-
month-old daughter, who only recently came into the human world,
needs to be praised. Sometimes I have to do a triple somersault,
cartwheel, back flip and a hula dance -all while I am clapping and
cheering hysterically -just to get her to finish her plate. Ok, I am
exaggerating a little but I am sure you get the point.
On the other hand, one of the things you should try to avoid,
however, is losing your temper. When you lose your temper, you say or
do things that you do not mean. Be lenient and do not take things too
seriously. This was the way of our beloved Prophet, as mentioned in
the following hadeeth:
Anas reported that Allah's Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam,
had the best disposition amongst people. "He sent me on an errand one
day, and I said: "By Allah, subhanahu wa' tala I would not go." I
had, however, this idea in my mind that I would do as Allah's
Apostle, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, had commanded me to do. I went
out until I happened to come across children who had been playing in
the street. In the meanwhile, Allah's Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa
sallam, came there and he caught me by the back of my neck from
behind me. As I looked towards him I found him smiling and he
said: "Unais, did you go where I commanded you to go?" I
said: "Allah's Messenger, yes, I am going." Anas further said: I
served him for nine years but I know not that he ever said to me
about a thing which I had done why I did that, or about a thing I had
left as to why I had not done that." (Muslim)
What a great example he was! He did not say, "You defy me!" and chase
him all across the desert with a stick. He asked him again, in the
most gentle and pleasant way. At the end of the hadeeth, Anas recalls
that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, never scolded him
about why he did or did not do something. The Prophet's great
character helped build a great Islamic figure.
Lastly, we should try not to favor one child over the other. If you
kiss one of them, you should kiss all of them. And you should kiss
them. Abu Hurairah reported that al-Aqra' ibn Habis saw Allah's
Apostle, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, kissing Al-Hasan. He said: I
have ten children, but I have never kissed anyone of them, whereupon
Allah's Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: He who does not
show mercy (towards his children), no mercy would be shown to him.
There is great reward in trying to do all these things. When we treat
them the way we like to be treated they will feel more comfortable
with us. They will share their feelings and confide in us more. They
will respect us because they love us, not respect us because they
fear us. These children are the future of the Islamic society. May
Allah help us in making them the best leaders in the best society.