Children are an Amanah from Allah ṣubhanahu wata‘ala, a gift and blessing entrusted to us, and we as parents are responsible for their upbringing. Indeed, family life in Islam is about the obligations of parents to their children. Since Muslims have responsibilities towards their children, they stand accountable to God, as well as to society for training them.
How should we take good care of them as they grow up? In brief, we need to show love, affection and mercy to children by living as a role model to them, teaching the love of Allah and His Messenger, ṣallallahu alaihi wa sallam, protecting them from ‘a Fire whose fuel are men and stones’ and reminding them of the need to be good representatives of their family wherever they may be. Although children may sometimes play mischievous tricks, we as parents should not show irritation; rather we must admonish them.
What our children need the most while growing up is safety, security and validation but sometimes we as parents get too busy to look upon those areas, and somehow we forget that by failing to take care of their psychological development we are making them cowardly and insecure. The Holy Prophet PBUHsaid:
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar:
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The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The amir (ruler) who is over the people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children and she is responsible for them; and a man’s slave is a shepherd in charge of his master’s property and he is responsible for it. So each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. (Sunan Abi Dawud 2928)
Of course we have a right to correct their behavior and attitude but in a limited way, and with appropriate respect too. It is also important for parents to keep equality among their kids, not favoring one above the others. They deserve equal love and care from us. Allowing a difference in any regard in our treatment of our children can damage their emotional development and create inferiority and complexes. On one occasion, The Holy ProphetPBUHsaid:
“Maintain justice among your children in gifts, just like you would like them to be just with you in goodness and affection.” (Sunan Abi Dawud 3544)
It is emphasized in Islam for parents to treat their children fairly. Punishment should be proportional to wrong behavior, and responsibility should be given according to how much a child is able to take on.
As for any disliked act done by your children, never overburden them with guilt and don’t severely penalize, as this is haram. Society will offer your child a lot of poorly behaved friends, so before they are old enough to make friends outside the family they should find their best friends in parents. The biggest responsibility of the parents would be to talk to their children, spend time with them, let them know about our deen.
Children will make a lot of mistakes, which we have to handle with patience and kindness in a way that they can easily accept. Kids are like soft, fertile soil, so don’t crush them while planting good seed in them. Children will learn slowly by what we parents say but more surely by our actions in front of them: “Actions speak louder than words.”
Parents are the first and the best of example to their children. Close communication with children and showing your own good attitude will be the most effective if you want them to learn and develop tolerance, harmony and peace among themselves. The Messenger of Allah PBUH has said:
“Abu Huraira reported God’s Messenger as saying, “The best of the women who ride on camels are the good women of Quraish, for they are the most affectionate to small children and the most careful of what belongs to their husbands.” (Bukhari and Muslim, Mishkat al-Masabih 3084)
How to bring up children well in our deen? We show our children the right things to do by teaching them the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, by correcting them when they do wrong and by praying for them to be good righteous children who will be ‘the coolness of our eyes.’ May Allah help us raise them the best way that pleases Him the most.
We show love to our children by making them friends to us first, and then by making them our companions to the masjid. Let us take them regularly to our Islamic lectures also in other places in order for them to absorb the ways of Islam and to learn how best to serve and worship Allah. Through ourselves exemplifying the positive characteristics that are specifically praised by Allah SWT we impart the same attitude to our kids. These virtues of excellence are mentioned in the Quran, such as Al-Mutawakkilin (those who rely on Allah), Al-Ṣabirin (those who are patient), Al-Muttaqin (those who fear to displease Allah). The Prophet of IslamPBUH on one occasion said:
“Verily, I have only been sent to perfect righteous character.” (Musnad Aḥmad 8729, Graded Sahih)
We parents are responsible to teach our children religious commitment and goodness and to show them the benefits of good etiquette. At the same time, we parents must respect our children and cultivate in them the best of manners. This is what Allah says:
“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] ultimate outcome is for [those of] righteousness.” [Surah Ta-Ha 20:132]
For those who are mindful of Allah (al–Mutaqqin), AllahSWT also mentions His love for those who do good:
Spend in the cause of Allah and do not contribute to your destruction with your own hands, but do good, for Allah loves those who do good (the virtuous). [Surah Al-Baqarah 2:195]
And certainly all those excellent virtues are deserved by our children, taught first of all by us, their parents.
We raise excellent children by taking care of them 24/7, and showing them they are important and loved by us. By correcting them and leading them by our example. By educating them in all the practical things of life, but especially by educating them about our deen. By making du‘aa’ for their past, present and future.
By fulfilling what they need, of which the most important thing we need to teach them is the Deen. By giving them good life education (Tarbiya). Our children are in need to know about Allah, about the refined lifestyle of our Prophet, about the purpose of this life, about what is true and false. Mostly encourage them to be good in their ikhlaq, which means to be good in their manners because our NabiPBUH, the Prophet of Allah said:
It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah PBUH observed: Be prompt in doing good deeds (before you are overtaken) by turbulence which would be like a part of the dark night. During (that stormy period) a man would be a Muslim in the morning and an unbeliever in the evening or he would be a believer in the evening and an unbeliever in the morning, and would sell his faith for worldly goods. (Ṣaḥîḥ Muslim 118)
This would be the best way to show them the love and mercy of Allah. Parents can expect to have struggles in the upbringing of their children; in fact, those parental efforts are contributions to their own future development to become the best human beings themselves and true Muslims.
Be fair with your children; teach them to say the truth and stand for it even if it’s against you; do something special to make them feel loved at least once or twice a week even if you’re a busy mother or busy father; teach them to fear and believe in Allah even in the worst of moments in life; reward them when they do good —like for memorizing the Qur’an well and reciting it in school or at any other function; teach them to respect their elders even in the case of those who are your enemies; teach them to be contented and to be thankful to Allah for even the least thing with which Allah has blessed them; teach them halal and haram; teach them to help the needy if they are in a position of helping, no matter how small it is; teach them never to look down on anyone; teach them to be kind to everyone especially your neighbors; teach them the Qur’an and Sunnah of our beloved ProphetPBUH.
Remember that parents will get treated the way they treat their children. Of course, children have to be controlled when they turn aside from the path of virtue, so be careful not to discipline them in a way that makes them furious with resentment. Instead, give them much love so that they feel secure and can pour out their heart to their parents. If parents succeed in educating their children with the teachings of Islam, they will never turn aside from the path of virtue.
May Allah increase our Iman and increase our wisdom in training up our children. Aameen