This year my family was blessed to experience another Ramadan. It was the first time in eleven years that I have actually made it to Taraweeh prayer. I never thought that time would come, but now my youngest (who just turned four) can actually behave while we pray. So I say to my sisters out there who have not seen the inside of a masjid for years, hang in there, your time will come.
Happy as I was to be be there, I was shocked at the behavior of some kids at the masjid. I witnessed kids jumping on tables, while their mothers looked on, relieved perhaps that they were entertaining themselves. This lack of control and good behavior is becoming all too common place- in schools, masajid, churches and home.
The parents seem to have little or no authority over their kids. I am homeschooling my three children, but in my previous life I was a teacher. As a teacher you realize that if you want to see what kind of life a family has, you look at the children. The children are the windows of a family. In a family where discipline and good adaab (manners) are not a priority, the children are usually unruly and out of control. Some of us may hear the word discipline and immediately think about beating, or hitting kids. As parents, we need to realize that not only do our kids need discipline, but we adults also need it in our lives. A disciplined life is a fruitful life. So, how can we reclaim our parental authority in order to raise disciplined children?
Here are a few ideas.
1) Talk with our children: We must have open, honest and respectful dialogue with our children. Too many times we parents think of respect as a one way street. I feed you, I clothe you, therefore you should respect me. But if we look at the prophetic model, we see that the Prophet Muhammad always showed deference, even to the smallest of children. He was always kind and forgiving, even when mistakes were made. As my mother always told me “What you give is what you get,” and I believe if you give respect to your kids, you will get it back from them.
2) Be willing to listen: As parents we do not want to hear what is going on in our children lives. If we do not know what our children see, hear, and do, how else can we guide them to what is right, and help them avoid what is wrong? Too many times we send them off to school, and yet we have no clue what is going on there. They spend almost one third of their lives in school, yet many of us choose to remain ignorant about their lives in in those hours away from us. Open up the dialogue, by asking specific questions. And don’t accept “I don’t know” for an answer.
3) Spend quality time with your kids: How do children spell love? TIME. This scenario is all too familiar- mother cooking in the kitchen, father reading or on the computer, and children watching TV, or playing video games. We must change things around; why not have the kids in the kitchen with us, helping out? This is a great way to bond with them, and get them away from the TV,computer and games.
4) Have tangible consequences for misbehavior: Always be FIRM and FAIR to children. I think we are good in the fair department, but we fail miserably in the firm department. Firm doesn’t mean to verbally bully a child, but really to let your son or daughter know that if said rules aren’t followed, there will be real consequences. Don’t get into shouting matches or arguments with kids, they can argue until the cows come home. Make your expectations clear, and follow through with consequences. Do it all respectfully and remembering Allah each step of the way.
Lastly, remember one important thing- Allah put you in charge of your children. Many times they will be a test for us, but He has also given us the strength to endure and succeed in this test. I do believe that even in this morally bankrupt society, we can be good parents, and bring up outstanding Muslim children. However we must reclaim our parental authority that this society strives to undermine and belittle. May Allah make us better parents, as well as better children to our parents. Ameen.
Nadia is currently a homeschooling mom of 3. A former teacher, she enjoys spending her time with family and friends, and her three amazing children.