Our children are an amanah from Allah SWT. The best gift we can give our Muslim children is a proper upbringing. But as parents, we can all agree that parenting can be confusing and daunting as babies do not come with an instruction manual. On top, each child is different making our job as parents even harder. Parenting really is the hardest job ever. So what effective Islamic parenting approach can parents follow to bring up children who can be successful in this world and next?
One thing I have come to realize is that Islam has provided some wonderful guidelines for parents in order to raise our children.
“Play with them for the first seven years (of their life); then teach them for the next seven years; then advise them for the next seven years (and after that).”
– Prophet Mohammed (pbuh)
The above Hadith of the Prophet gives us the guidance to divide a child’s upbringing into three stages.
ISLAMIC PARENTING STAGES:
FIRST SEVEN YEARS (0-7)
This is the time to let the child play but roll up the parenting sleeves to build a strong connection with our child. These are the formation years when a child is constantly influenced by the surroundings and learns by observing.
Children imitate their parents more than anyone. If you find any undesired behavior in your child, check if you, your spouse, or a caregiver have acted similarly in front of your child.
These are the foundation years, the base from which the relationship with them grows. If this is rock solid, the remaining years will be much easier. If this foundation forms poorly, the next years will be more challenging.
The second stage of upbringing is the time to teach them secular and religious knowledge, halal vs haram, and all the things they need to know. Teach them sports, too;
Prophet (pbuh) said: “Teach your children swimming, archery and horseback riding.” So teach them sports too. Sports have many benefits including teamwork, leadership, sportsmanship and physical fitness.
At this stage, children are young and they are still in the process of learning what is right and what is wrong. It is the parents’ responsibility to teach the child how to behave, how to choose his environment and decide which type of people to fill that environment with, so that they can continue to do what is best for them.
Without boundaries, society would be in chaos. Similarly, children need a set of boundaries to guide their behavior, which gives the children the freedom to act and behave. If they do not know what the boundaries are then they do not know what is acceptable and what is not.
If children are taught beforehand what is correct and good behavior, then they will have the guidelines to act within the boundaries and will not be left wondering and confused.
THE FINAL SEVEN YEARS(14-21)
Once your child hits 14(or puberty), children achieve independence and they develop their own personality.
During these critical years, befriend them, advise them, and do what you can; understand that they are now full adults according to Islam, and the choices are theirs to make, right or wrong. As parents, our responsibility is to advice them.
I sincerely pray that Allah swt guides each of us to establish a trusting relationship with our children and we be their trusted confidant, that advisor, that go-to person when they need help or advice; maybe even that “cool” mom or dad who they adore.
I pray for a close, loving, happy and fulfilling relationship with our children for all the days of our lives and to be reunited with them in Jannat ul Firdaus. Ameen.