WHEN YOU THINK about a toolbox, equipment like power drills, screwdrivers and wrenches are the first things that come to mind. The second thing is most likely the image of your husband lugging it around the house while he attempts to fix all of the things that need to be repaired.
What most mothers do not realize is that they too have a toolbox of their very own. It cannot be carried in the hands or filled with nuts and bolts. However, it is there in her very being. A mother’s toolbox is filled with all of the intangible things that she can give to her child so that he can lead a pious life that is resplendent in the worship of Allah.
Quite notably, mothers are just as accountable as fathers for the ways in which their children are reared. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
Each of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The man is the shepherd of his family and he is responsible for his flock. The woman is the shepherd of her husband’s household and is responsible for her flock…
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And while a mother’s toolbox often overflows with all of the insight, love, and wisdom she can muster, there are a handful of primary tools that she can use when raising her children.
One of the greatest gifts that a mother can bestow upon her child is a sound understanding of the Islamic faith. A child as young as four years old can begin to learn the basics of Islam, such as reciting dhikr. As the child grows, the mother can introduce each and every aspect of Islam such as the Prayer, fasting, paying zakah and the like. Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
And enjoin prayer upon your family [and people] and be steadfast therein. We ask you not for provision; We provide for you, and the [best] outcome is for [those of] righteousness. [Sûrat Tâ Ḥ â, 20:132]
Women are, by their very nature, nurturers and have the fortitude to teach their children the proper ways to fulfill their faith. Seize the opportunity to start teaching your child about Islam from a young age, as it is often easier for them to learn then. However, even older children can be encouraged to reinvigorate their faith and renew their intentions as pious Muslims.
Our world is full of darkness and gloom. Every day, scenes of natural disasters, manmade horrors and hopelessness play out across television screens across the world as up-to-the-minute news reporting relays the tragedies in real time. Do not make the mistake of thinking that your children are impervious to what is going on in the world and, in particular, in your family life. Shield your children as much as you can by limiting what they view on television. And discuss troublesome problems with your spouse or a loved one when the child is not present.
Once these obstacles have been obscured, teach your children about the hope we find in Allah’s infinite Mercy. Instruct your child to make duʿa’ and supplicate to our Creator whenever there is a worry. Teach your child the ninety-nine ‘Beautiful Names’ of Allah, such as Al–Raḥmân (The Merciful) and Al-Raḥîm (Mercy-Giving). And read to him this ayah:
They said, We have given you good tidings in truth, so do not be of the despairing. He said, And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord except for those astray? [Sûrat Al-Ḥijr, 15:55-56]
Patience is a virtue and is often one of the hardest qualities to teach a child. In our technological age of instant gratification, most kids get what they want when they demand it. Parents, especially Muslim ones, are not doing their child any favor by fulfilling his every whim or desire.
A mother can teach her child patience in several ways. One of the easiest is to pay him a small allowance for household chores done during the week. Encourage him to save his earnings so that he can buy the things that he needs (with the exception of food, learning materials and clothing).
Another idea is to help him plant a watermelon seed in a small foam cup. Tell him that too much or too little water will keep the seed from sprouting. By nurturing this little seed to a sprout, your child will experience the beauty of patience firsthand.
Remind your child that all Muslims must be patient when waiting for their duʿas to be answered and never to give up repeating them in the hopes that they will be answered.
Self-confidence is a trait that all children should possess, but many rarely do—the reason being that many parents make the mistake of stunting the growth of their child’s self-confidence from an early age. Getting angry with a child over a simple mistake, comparing the child to another who is “better” or talking down to a child for his shortcomings are all ways in which parents often damage their child’s self-confidence.
Most importantly, self-confidence encourages desirable traits such as independence, creativity, organization and mindfulness. These are all traits that a parent wants their child to possess in the first place. Mothers must be proactive in building up their child’s self-confidence through praise, gentle guidance to avoid mistakes and forgiveness when mistakes do occur.
Assign your child a task and a set of steps to complete it, such as creating a bird feeder from a milk carton. Allow him to create it by himself and praise the effort even if the opening is a bit jagged or it hangs crooked when hung outdoors. Praise him for making such a valuable tool to help feed the birds that visit your yard.
One of the best things about motherhood is being a friend to your child. That does not mean that you throw discipline or Islamic values out the window for the sake of being a “cool” mother. It does mean that you are there for your child when he needs you to love him, answer his questions and alleviate his pain.
The bond between a mother and child is one that is very difficult to be broken. Reinforce your relationship with your child by becoming the first person he turns to in times of anxiety or worry.
The best way to do this is by letting your child know that he can come to you for advice on any subject. Tell him that you will not judge him, but will instead offer him sound advice based on the Quran and Sunnah. Inform him that he can divulge his secrets in the utmost confidence and that you will hold them in a guarded trust not to be broken. As your child grows apart from his friends and develops new ones, he will come to the realization that his truest friend is you.
A MOTHER’S TOOLBOX is full of tools just waiting to be used and explored. Always keep yours handy when raising your child so that he may become the absolute best Muslim he can be. Discard and add tools as necessary to keep your toolbox in optimum working order for the benefit of all the children that you are blessed to mother.
Originally posted 2015-11-09 15:31:35.