Balancing Parental Discipline

Balancing Parental Discipline August 13, 2012

Al Haleem.  I struggle with parenting and  this beautiful characteristic of Allah SWT, this name that blows me to pieces.  To catch someone hurting you, disobeying you, stabbing you, and to let it go, forgive it, forget it, while having full power to punish for it.  To overlook, to glance over, to allow someone the chance to start new because you overlooked their mistake.

It’s Ramadan, the month of practicing patience, of rising above my anger, of letting things go.  There’s something about being hungry that takes away that extra energy that feeds my anger, something about fasting that helps me rise above answering back, arguing, retorting.  And then I come up against the beautiful name of Allah SWT, Al Haleem, and stop to think how I can transform that characteristic and my new-found state of constant fasting, into a habit of treating my children with hilm, with forbearance.

I think upon Allah’s name, upon His characteristic of Hilm, of letting my sins go, forgiving them, overlooking them, not catching me on each and every sin I do, day in and day out.  I think upon the hilm that I have seen practiced with me by a parent, a grandma, a friend whom I’ve wronged, a husband who lets my angry words slide.  And I remember how glad I am, how grateful I am, how embarrassed I am of myself, how determined I am never to let that mistake happen again.

And then I struggle with being a parent.  To be forbearing, to let a mistake slide while I have the power to punish for it.  To forgive an angry stomp, a hateful glance, a mean word from my 5 year old.  To overlook a blatant lie by 7 year old.  Not to bottle up my anger for 30 seconds and then let it burst in a much bigger dose of yelling and anger a short while later.  To allow my daughter to make a mistake, silently let her realize it, silently give her a reproving look, and then to walk away.  How can I have hilm with them, and yet help them grow and develop?  How can I smile at them in their tantrums, gently pat them in their worst moments, allow them to make a mistake and overlook it?  Will she realize her mistake if I let it go?  Will she go deeper and deeper with her mistakes if I say nothing?

I haven’t yet found the balance between parental discipline and forbearance (hilm), but I eagerly seek an answer in this blessed month.  I will turn in onto my Ramadan self, my fasting self, and seek moments of calm in my fasting state.  I will tap into the quiet force that stabilizes me during my moments of anger, the force that keeps me quiet in the face of an angry scream, a hateful word.  I will let it rise me above the wave of anger that leads me to a quick retort, a thoughtless action that I will regret not after, but while I am doing it.

Ya Haleem, give me hilm with my children, teach me the balance between discipline and patience, forgiveness and forbearance while I journey on this path to Your acceptance.  Allow Ramadan to be the time I learn to control my anger, my quick responses, my lack of forbearance.  Teach me hilm, so that I am like the companion whom your Prophet described as having two characteristics loved by You.  Show me the way.

 Fatima Abdallah

Fatima lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and three little musketeers.

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