It is essential that parents create a loving and affectionate environment with the children – not just when they are small, but also when they are adults.
If you don’t show affection towards the daughters, perhaps a random “Mr Sensitive” will. If you don’t show affection towards the sons, perhaps the charismatic and cool smoker/drug dealer will give them the attention and recognition they desire. So if we fail to show them affection, appreciation and attention, it should not come as a surprise if they end up with the wrong crowd.
You should also be affectionate to your spouse. The Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) would consistently create a loving and affectionate environment in the home – especially to his wives. He would kiss them even while he was fasting (Al-Bukhari and Muslim), and he would kiss them all the time before he went to prayer at the masjid (At-Tirmidzi and ibn Majah).
A few Bedouin Arabs once came to the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and asked, “Do you kiss your children?” The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “Yes.”
They then replied, “By Allah, we never kiss our children!”
Then the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) replied, “So what can I do if Allah has deprived your heart of mercy?” (Muslim)
And in another narration, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said,
“مَنْ لاَ يَرْحَمْ لاَ يُرْحَمْ”
“Those who do not show Mercy, will not be shown Mercy.” (Al-Bukhari)
*What husbands and fathers (should) do at home
Two simple acts that, if done with sincerity and consistency, can go a long way to improve one’s effectiveness as the man of the house, and as a believer.
‘Aisha bint Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنهما) was once asked, what did the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) use to do at home (i.e. when he was not busy with his tasks as the prophet/leader/teacher). She replied, “He used to keep himself busy serving his family (with the house chores and tasks), and when it was time for prayer, he would get up and attend the prayer at the masjid.” (Al-Bukhari)
(1) Helping out with the house chores
There are really practical and spiritual benefits to this – as husband/father, playing an active role to alleviate your spouse’s difficulties go a long way to enhance your relationship; it also recognises the need for teamwork and collaboration to keep things together.
These acts of contribution will inspire the children. You might not see it when they are small, but keep it up and see the effects of how “my hero helps my mommy as a team”, as they grow older.
Spiritually, committing to these ‘menial chores’ help keep a person sincere and humble. It removes feelings of arrogance – of considering these chores ‘too menial to be worth one’s time’.
Men – remember your place. The most noble and honourable of all creations, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), used to help out at home, so who do we think we are if we consider we are too great for this?
Sweep the floor, change the diapers, do the dishes, hang the clothes to dry, slice the onions, etc – do this with the intention of following in the footsteps/Sunnah of the most honourable of men, far better than the kings and emperors of this dunya. And, as we do this with sincerity, away from the eyes of others, this in turn helps build our ‘ikhlas’ and reminds us to be humble.
2) When it’s time for the five daily prayers, perform them in congregation at the masjid.
By being consistently discipline leaving the house for the masjid, this indicates a commitment to the shared family values: Obedience to Allah. And if the children can come along, it plants in them the discipline for diligence towards it, warming it up when they reach the age of accountability.
And when all is said and done, those whose hearts are attached to the masjid are among those who are promised the Shade of Allah, on the Day there is no Shade but His. (Al-Bukhari)
You will protect your family from mosquitos – will you not protect yourself from the burning sun close to our heads on the Day of Judgment?
May Allah make us men, and grant our sisters with husbands and fathers who help serve the family in the house, and steadfastly observe congregational prayers at the masjid. Amin.