There are many differences between children raised in America and children raised in other parts in the world. But there’s one aspect in raising children that most people believe comes from the home and not the country the child lives in. Manners. However, in a recent visit to Palestine, I couldn’t help but notice that well-raised children have better manners than well-raised children in America. When I say well-raised I refer to children that come from a nurturing and caring home environment with parents that serve as good role models for their children.

Several examples…

During meal time, they make sure that they are last to sit on the table. If an elder walks into the room, they quickly get up and offer their chair over and provide a clean plate in an instant.

The children- from toddlers to young adults- have the upmost respect for their parents and elders. They kiss the hand of their grandparents each time they enter or leave the home- even if it’s more than once a day. They never talk back, even if they’re not in fault.  When someone (anyone) walks into the house with bags in his/her hands, the children rush to help the person out with the bags.

A child is asked to do something – whether as simple as taking the trash out or as more involved as delivering and picking something up from a local supermarket. These responsible children I’m referring to are as young as 4 and 5 year olds. On my last day there, I realized I was running out of diapers.  I asked some relative (young kids) to go buy a bag of pampers and something for themselves with the change. They returned with my change and bag of pampers. I insisted that they go back and buy something for themselves but they kindly refused.

These types of manners, as well as many more, can be taught in homes, but I think much more is involved. These behaviors need to modeled every single day- which isn’t too easy in a society that we live in here in the states. The T.V. definitely doesn’t portray these behaviors, and the many of the kids in the neighborhoods and schools probably don’t either.

My son is just over a year old, but I think about how I want him raised on a regular basis. How do I raise him the best he can possibly be? Although raising children was never said to be easy, it sure seemed like it overseas. Perhaps summer visits to reinforce what’s taught will help? As our prophet (PBUH) taught us, “Laysa minna man la yaHtarem kabeeruna wa yarHam sagheruna” (He is not from us if he does not respect his elder and show mercy to the younger).  May Allah help us in raising our children the way Islam teaches.


Hoda is a wife and a mother to a stillborn daughter in heaven and a one year old son. She is an elementary public school teacher and lives in Virginia.

  • Jessi

    Thank you for the post. We should certainly cultivate respectful, responsible, helpful manners in our children. And you’re right, they are not going to learn the right way to behave from the TV or other kids.

    But I don’t think we could spread the generalization to say that kids “overseas” or even “in Muslim countries” are raised with better manners. I’ve spent time in Egypt and, at least in the families and the area I experienced, the kids were not more respectful than kids here. They certainly were decent to their grandmother (but not kissing), but I was saddened to see a 5 year old boy hit his mother and kids and parents yelling at each other all the time.

    The best thing is to refer to how the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, acted and taught children and adults to behave. That’s the best guidance for us all.

  • Aishah

    In our society we put kids first, I would never expect my kids to give up their seat for an adult. A young adult should give up their seat for an elderly person though but I see kids as being on the same level as the elderly; both in need of extra attention and love. In our mosque I’ve seen kids who have no seat to sit on running all over the mosque and getting into fights with no adult supervision. 4 and 5 yr olds going shopping? Are you serious? That’s not acceptable and downright dangerous! This is the kind of uprbringinging that upsets me and I don’t associate it with manners at all. I believe in keeping my kids safe first and foremost. I agree with the last poster that we should follow the sunnah but also our own common sense.

  • Anonymous

    I have two girls, one with ADHD and the other without. Although I raised them the same way, with the same rules, same love, same kindness, the child with ADHD can be immature, impulsive, and sometimes outright dangerous, while the other child is well behaved, respectful, and polite. My point is, family, environment, and social support aren’t the only factors that influence behavior.

  • Hoda

    I did not intend to stir up any upset feelings in my post. I simply had returned from an overseas visit and couldn’t help but compare muslim children I knew here in the states and the muslim children I met overseas.

    Yes, I agree it is not safe for 4-5 yearolds to go shopping here in the states. The children overseas who did were in a complete different environment. I’m talking SMALL neighborhood (with supermarkets attached to homes), where no one drove and everyone knew everyone else. My point wasn’t that they would do the shopping, it was beyond that. It was the way they would respond, and the need to please and respect the elder.

    My post was simply a personal reflection I wanted to share. I agree the Islamic way is the way we should aim for, which is why I ended the post with the last two sentences I wrote.

  • Marwa

    Hoda, I think your personal reflections are great- and I love the fact that people are sharing their own personal insights- this gives us an opportunity to have a well rounded idea of manners in general and this is exactly what the blog is here for- so we can offer insights and different perspectives. If everything that was offered was like tofu, then that would be no fun!

  • blessed

    I personally love the fact that kids overseas can go out shopping without any fear for their safety. Part of the security of other countries and insecurity found here in the States.

  • ummossama

    AA Hoda,

    JAK for post Hoda. I think that manners are lacking everywhere.

    The child who has manners..please,thank-you, excuse me,respect for parents/teachers/guests/when visiting/ kindness, etc etc is a jewel and when I see a child like this I know that the parents have taken some time to teach them…. but often times in this busy life manners are neglected..we spend the preschool years teaching ABCs,123s but how many of us spend time actually teaching manners. It’s takes some discipline/time/thought to teach manners in the right way..we should make it a priority.