Striking the right balance is always easier said than done. Unfortunately, with parenting the results of belonging to either extreme can be disastrous to a child. Being too suffocating can cause a child to suffer from low self-esteem or become rebellious at an older age, yetapathy with regards to a child’s life can lead to them looking in the wrong places or at the wrong people for attention and affection. Children need a role model: someone to look up to, to seek guidance from, to be there to support them through difficulties and to share their successes and who should be a better role model than the very people who are responsible for their upbringing?
As with every aspect of life, our noble Prophet (peace be upon him) has given us the perfect example of how that role model should be. The key qualities every parent should strive to attain are epitomised by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who has complete:
Love & Mercy: As we are all aware, his mercy is unparalleled and indeed, his treatment of children, and not just his own progeny, is an example to us all. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would kiss and embrace children often and he would take an active interest in their lives. For example, when the pet bird of the young Abu Umair died he went out of his way to try and make him laugh. Many parents struggle to give sufficient time to their children hence it is vital that any time spent together is pure quality. A combination of heartfelt playful activitycombined with loving conversation will provide security and comfort thereby ensuring healthy emotional development of a child.
Justice: Sadly, a common problem amongst parents is to favour one child over another. The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded fairness in the treatment of one’s children as this helps to ensure they are equally dutiful to parents. Always praising one child, constantly comparing children, preferring sons to daughters or showering one with gifts at another’s expense are all prevalent issues with today’s parents. This must be avoided at all costs as it is dangerous to a child who may develop low self-esteem and in turn, an inferiority complex.
Patience: Anas ibn Malik was a young boy when he had the honour of serving the Prophet (peace be upon him) and it is narrated from him that during his ten years of service, never did the Prophet (peace be upon him) say a word of impatience or question why he had, or had not done something. A child is bound to err at times but to bear patiently whilst advising and guiding as opposed to constantly admonishing, will prove better inshā’Allāh. Making du‘ā for your children is also the prophetic way and it is reported that a parent’s du‘ā for his child is never rejected by Allah.
Trust: The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to play with Usama ibn Zayd as a child and at around 17 years of age he entrusted the boy with the momentous task of commanding the Muslim army against the Byzantine Empire. Despite his youth, he was given such immense responsibility.Parents should not be afraid to trust or rely on their children according to their capabilities. A child wants to be trusted and a good way a parent may show they can trust them, is by making them a part of family decisions. By asking their opinion and including them in important discussions a child will feel they are an important part of the family unit which can pave the way to strengthening family ties.
Respect: Whenever the Prophet (peace be upon him) was visited by his youngest daughter, Lady Fatima, he would stand to welcome her when she entered the room, take her by the hand, kiss her and make him sit where he was sitting. Conversely, she would do the same when he visited her.These beautiful acts, though simple, show the profound love and respect they held for each other. Respecting your child is so important and it must not be forgotten that respect also includes keeping a child’s secrets confidential as well as not humiliating them publicly.
Practising these simple yet important qualities can prove effective in building a strong relationship with your child and, along with fulfilling the rights of your child, should help to ensure a healthy and happy family.