I remember reading a quote before I had children. I don’t remember who the quote was by and can’t seem to find the original one online. But nevertheless it spoke about how the righteous predecessors raised their children. It was divided into 3 life stages from infancy to adulthood:
Stage 1: 0-7 years old, model good behaviors, and play with your children
Stage 2: 7-14 years is the time for discipline, teaching the child right and wrong.
Stage 3: 14- 21 years be their friend/ companion.
When I read it years ago, it made sense, and recently I was researching how to raise my children with an Islamic upbringing. I wanted them to be motivated kids who pray, fast and do good deeds because they want to please Allah and not because they are afraid of me or my husband. I was researching on how kids where raised by the Sahabah, and those who came after them. And for some reason I remembered this quote and if I ever do find it, I will be sure to make a poster to hang it up.
I think this is a great starting point, especially because as parents we worry about our children’s future. We worry about things we have no control over. We wonder how our kids will be when they are 16 years old. Will they have good manners? Will they treat others with respect? Wallaahu alam (Allah knows best). But I do understand that all we can do is focus on the present, and we need to nurture the 0-7 year old and give them our attention. We need to give them their rights and treat them with respect. The kind of respect that understands their abilities, encourages their independence and respects their “choices”. And most importantly allow them to be children.
“A child is like soft clay which we can shape according to our treatment of it.” (Dr Mohammad ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-‘Arifi)
As an adult, there are times when I wish I was a child again, without a care in the world. I wish I could go back to that time when I had no responsibilities and was carefree. (Don’t we all wish that for ourselves at times?) Yet, as parents we tend take that away that special part of childhood away from our children. We want them to make us proud and introduce too much too soon. Maybe, it is the competition with other parents that leads to this, as we are trying to make sure they are better than other muslim kids, and that they have memorized more Quran and hadith than them. Not that there is anything wrong with that but if it’s pushed on a child at a very young age it can have detrimental consequences. That is why many are trying to reform current school systems which they believe robs kids of the ability to play and puts too much emphasis on formal learning.
Parenting is one of those things you learn as you go along. (At least that’s what I keep telling myself.) I am sure my parenting style will continue to change and be influenced by many factors around me, but for now at least I have found a foundation to build upon.
How would you describe your parenting style?
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