It’s not too late to improve your parenting skills and teach your children to live as good Muslims. Hina Khan Muqtar recently spent an afternoon with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, from Seekers Guidance, and gathered invaluable advice which she has openly shared.
Please print, frame and post anywhere where you can read this often throughout the day, and please share openly with others.
- You’re not responsible for your children’s actions, only for what you teach them (or don’t teach them).
- Focus on teaching your children adab and akhlaq (manners and etiquette); parents don’t emphasize these enough any more. Have adab with yourself before you set out to teach adab — that means “pausing”. Be willing to pause before reacting.
- Adab is the capacity to have the appropriate action, attitude, and response in any given situation.
- Oftentimes we do more damage by how we react to our children’s mishaps. When we lose our temper with our kids, we’re still “teaching” them; we’re just not teaching them the appropriate reaction to life’s adversities and challenges. Our kids are always learning from us.
- Criticizing your children is a bid’ah (a blameworthy innovation); it’s not from the Sunnah (way of the Prophet). Don’t criticize; don’t nag. Nagging your children about everything is a good way to guarantee that they don’t listen to you about anything. Nagging never works.
- If you want to know how to raise teenagers, look at the life of Anas (radiAllahu anhu); he lived in the house of the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) from the age of 10 to 20. He broke things and made mistakes, but the Prophet (saw) never focused on whatever Allah had already destined; he never shamed Anas (rA) for his mistakes. He only focused on gentle teaching and gentle reminders. (i.e. “Did you take care of that task I asked you to do?” rather than “Why haven’t you done what I asked you to do yet?! How many times do I have to remind you?!”)
- When the Prophet (saw) saw another young sahabah (companion) eating greedily from all over a plate, he gently told him, “Say Allah’s Name before eating; eat with your right hand; and eat from what is in front of you.” He didn’t criticize him for his (lack of) manners; he only told him the correct way to eat and then moved on.
- We are not police officers or judges when it comes to our children; rather, we should be like shepherds — we should try to gently guide them in the direction of where we want them to eventually end up.
- Complaining about your children to friends is blameworthy; however, consulting with people who have wisdom and experience is praiseworthy. Don’t talk to just anyone about your concerns regarding your children.
- When asked about getting kids to pray or to wear the hijab, he reminded us that Islam is not about do’s and don’ts and a bunch of rules; it’s about the heart. We need to teach kids to have hearts that are directed towards pleasing their Lord. They should desire on their own to live lives of taqwa (God-consciousness). We must model taqwa for them by how we live our own lives. Some children may need gentle nudges and reminders to do the right thing.
- All virtues are virtuous; anything virtuous should be taught to and emphasized for BOTH genders (like modesty and lowering the gaze and gentleness). Boys should not be shamed for being shy. Shyness is praiseworthy.
- Prayer should be a pleasant experience for the kids. He talked about his own children taking turns saying their personal duas aloud after prayer time; sometimes the kids would fall into hugging and wrestling on the prayer mat afterwards.
- Teach kids about the Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) life.
- Remind yourself about what your parents did RIGHT.
- Don’t become self-satisfied in your parenting.
- Aim high in both spiritual and worldly matters. Do dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and call on Allah for Help. Don’t just ask that He make your kids into good Muslims; ask Him to make your kids from amongst the best and most virtuous of all Muslims ever. Trust in Him to answer your duas. Nothing is impossible for Allah.
- Sometimes the correct response is to not do anything.
- Seek Allah’s Pleasure through your own parenting, and facilitate for your kids to seek Allah’s Pleasure as well.
- Children before the age of puberty are not held accountable by Allah even if they commit murder (God forbid), so who are we to freak out on our kids for “little” things like spilled milk?
- Sometimes, as human beings, we make mistakes, but those can always be rectified. If you need to apologize, please do so – do not be ashamed to apologize to your children as they will know that parents also make mistakes. And they will learn to do the same thing when they make a mistake.
~Note by Hina Khan Muqtar on parenting, with a focus on not shaming, criticizing, and nagging our children, especially our boys.