#1 – Your Environment
Parents often complain about the “environment” being a problem for the children, but in fact the question comes down to how positive or excellent have you stimulated in YOUR own environment – at the home?
How much do you what is within your control to simulate that loving, caring, reminding, motivating and positive environment that makes the children love the home, and love your attention more than they love hanging out with their friends, their gadgets, their YouTube, and their toys?
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “the best of you are those who are best towards his family – and I am the best towards my family” (hadith narrated by at-Tirmidhi)
What does “best to his family” mean? We know how much he used to smile, how positive he was, how attentive, how loving, how understanding he was to his companions in public – he was even more so at home and in private with his family.
This was the mark of a genuine sincere person – to be best to his family. These days unfortunately we have many who have a very good “religious” outer appearances, but have poor Akhlaq towards their families and they fail to create a conducive home environment that helps in the children’s development.
Dear fathers, take note.
May Allah make us amongst those who are best to their families and stimulate a beautiful conducive environment for our families to be the best of the future ummah.
#2 – Choosing the right schools for your child..?
It’s a common dilemma today on what are the right kind of schools or formal educational institutions to choose for their child. Public schools, private schools, Islamic schools, tahfiz, home schooling, etc..?
Alhamdulillah this was discussed at length during the “Raising Righteous Offspring” course and the panel concluded with a pretty comprehensive guideline on how to make this choice.
When it comes to a 90-minute game of football, nobody would risk defeat by just jumping into the match without strategic planning, so who would be silly enough risk a lifetime of an individual – your child – by just random outsourcing without having a strategic plan?
It’s easy to ask around what people feel is the “best schools”, and then just take the dive – this is a lazy and unstrategic approach, assuming people are robots that can be given the same prescription and maintenance plan.
Firstly, 2 facts need to be made clear:
Fact #1 – there is no “perfect school” that can solve everything
Fact #2 – there is no such thing as ‘complete outsourcing’ of a child’s education – no taichee taichee : the crucial aspect of a child’s values, habits and role models still largely depend on the parents.
Step #1 – you (the parent) need to understand your purpose in life, with respect to Allah, and your function as a leader in your own family as the building blocks for the community.
Step #2 – what kind of Qualities do you seek?
Based on your purpose, as a believer, What kind of individual do you want to produce from your household? What kind of change do you want to see in the ummah? What sort of leader do you want to lead the charge some day?
From what you know of your child; their traits, character, and talents, what best suits them as an individual? Have a clear mental picture on the kind of qualities we seek to nurture and inculcate from them, without subjecting them to pressure beyond their capabilities.
Step #3 – assess the choices, work out the pros and cons
Every institution has its advantages and disadvantages, and some gaps which are not specifically addressed.
Assess the options and evaluate how will they complement the qualities you seek, and what you need to do to outside of the institution to cover the gaps or deficiencies of the choice(s),
e.g. If a public school is too secular or has disciplinary gaps; if boarding school takes too much time away from the parents; if a private school has too much free mixing; if a tahfiz doesnt teach communication skills or basic life competencies; if homeschooling will not expose the child to peer and social interaction / working as a jemaah – what will you do? What additional classes /activities / volunteering works can be a reasonable means of patching these up?
What is practical – what is within your means of finances and time to achieve all the above, including the “additional” stuff on top of the school?
Step #4 – make the decision, seek the help of Allah, and put your trust in Him.
No matter how much effort or planning we put into it, remember that He Alone can make it happen, He Alone can facilitate our affairs.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “If you ask, then ask Allah [alone]; and if you seek help, then seek help from Allah [alone]. And know, that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah had already prescribed for you. And if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what Allah had already prescribed against you.” (Narrated by at-Tirmidhi)
فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
“.. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (surah al-Imran 3:159)
3. “The two S – Shukr and Sorry”
Two important “S” characteristics we should inculcate in our children, even as babies.
Insha Allah, if these characteristics are nurtured at a young age, provide the building blocks of being a good righteous believer as they grow up.
1) “Shukr” (شكر) – thankfulness
It is quite common that people grow up, not being aware that it is a privilege to have what they have, and taking them for granted – instead, choosing to focus on little things that we “don’t” have.
Teach our youth the awareness that the blessings granted to us are not “givens” – many gifts given to us by Allah are in fact not granted to other people – our families, health, wealth, nice food, our toys, our beautiful homes, our perfect bodily functions – eyesight, hearing, smell, etc.
Involve the young ones in giving Sadaqah and zakah directly to people, especially while meeting those less fortunate or disabled, or even orphaned..
The Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Look to one who is lower than you (with respect to worldly blessings, possessions and looks), and do not look to one who is above you. For indeed that is more worthy (so that you will) not belittle Allah’s favors upon you.” (Narrated by ibn Majah and at-Tirmidhi, graded Sahih)
Equally important is to inculcate an attitude of thankfulness to other people.
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
“لم يشكر الناس، لم يشكر الله عز وجل ”
“Whosoever is not thankful to people, are not thankful to Allah”. (Narrated by at-Tirmidhi, graded Sahih)
Acknowledge and appreciate the good little things done by the kids (even if it’s “trivial” like paying attention at school, or for passing the ketchup to you) and you yourself need to acknowledge the good deeds other people do for you (esp to your own spouse, your maid, the shopkeeper) so that as this thankful culture becomes infectious, the kids learn and pick up.
The Prophet said, “never belittle or consider insignificant any of the good deeds that you do, even if it is (the mere act of) meeting your brother with a cheerful face” (Muslim)
Once we plant the building blocks of thankfulness, as they grow up they will learn to appreciate the value of their Islam and make a conscious decision to turn to Allah (in sha Allah).
Teach your children with the basic traits of being honest with themselves, admitting their own faults and sincerely wanting to ask forgiveness, and to correct and improve themselves.
No matter how good or righteous one can be, one is always prone to error, and there is always a danger of Arrogance and not wanting to correct oneself, no matter how old, knowledgeable or righteous you are (parents, take note too!)
The Prophet said:
“كل بني آدم خطاء، و خير خطاءين التوابون”
“Every son of Adam is a sinner; but the best of sinners are those who repent constantly” (Narrated by ibn Majah, graded hasan)
This also means that, while discipline is definitely a priority, it should not be to the extent that we go too hard on them, until they want to “lie” themselves out of trouble, and be in denial.
Inculcating this trait not only plants the foundations of a progressive and constantly self-improving culture, but also to turn to Allah. In sha Allah.
May Allah make us and our offspring amongst the thankful, and amongst the repentant. Ameen.
4. “If you want something done right…”
A constant recurring theme in the course “Raising Righteous Offspring” is that if we earnestly aspire to instill a positive and righteous change amongst our family members – especially as parents – YOU yourself need to do the educating and nurturing, and get involved. You can never fully outsource your child’s development, especially with regards to values, manners and attitude.
To some parents, this may seem like a daunting task – and perhaps there are those who might think “I’m not that kind of person”, “I am not a good teacher”, “I’m too busy”, “I don’t know how to speak to them”, “I just don’t have the patience”, etc.
So how do we advise those who have these thoughts?
This was asked to the panel during the course and this is the combined response by all 3 speakers –
1) An Extraordinary Goal Requires Extraordinary Effort
It was narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said,
“ألا إن سلعة الله غالية. إلا إن سلعة الله الجنة”
“Unquestionably, the prize of Allah is expensive!
Unquestionably the prize of Allah is Paradise” (Narrated by at-Tirmidhi who graded it as ‘hasan gharib’)
You know how important your children’s upbringing is – and you know that it could very well be the key to your success Hereafter, as a family.
So if it requires a little bit of effort beyond our comfort zone, do it!
You know that failure is not an option, so don’t have a defeatist attitude. After all,
2) “Allah will not change the condition/state of a people until they first change what is in themselves” (ar-Ra’d 13:11)
We can blame the negative friends, the social media, the foul entertainment and other external influences; we can blame them all as much as we want, but if we refuse to make the first step to change what is within our control, then we have none to blame but ourselves.
We would go to great lengths to protect our children from harm and disease – so how much effort are we willing to put to safe them from the Fire? (Quran 66:6)
So let us have it in us to plant the firm will to change for the benefit of those closest to us, but first..
3) SEEK THE HELP OF ALLAH
This is such an important aspect that we always take for granted.
.. إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
“Certainly, Allah has power over all things” (2:20)
Nobody said you needed to do this alone. Allah wants us to ask of Him, and ALLAH, the Most Loving and Merciful (الرحمن، الحيم) wants your family to succeed, and He has Power over all things. CONTINUOUSLY ask Allah to grant steadfastness in our actions.
4) Take the means
Act in accordance of you asking Allah for help. Consult others, delegate tasks between the spouse, and try your level best.
Dear parents, a repeated theme in the Quran is how Allah will provide for the righteous parents, to their families – even after their death. And SubhanAllah, if we really put in the effort, Allah will unite us together with our family members in Paradise..
وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَاتَّبَعَتْهُمْ ذُرِّيَّتُهُم بِإِيمَانٍ أَلْحَقْنَا بِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَمَا أَلَتْنَاهُم مِّنْ عَمَلِهِم مِّن شَيْءٍ…
“And those who believe and whose offspring follow them in Faith, to them shall We join their offspring, and We shall not decrease the reward of their deeds in anything…” (Surah at-Tur 52:21)
Allahu akbar… Is this beautiful reunion not worth the effort?
May Allah grant us the steadfastness to continuously strive to improve ourselves, and may He facilitate all our affairs to progress beyond our “comfort zone”, and may He grant us in success Hereafter to be United with our loved ones… Amin.
#rro #raisingrighteousoffspring #parenting