Imam Dr Zijad’s Corner: THE BALANCE IN RAISING OUR CHILDREN

THE BALANCE IN RAISING OUR CHILDREN

Muslim parents should work on building children’s self-esteem and never give a chance to tear it down. Helping children develop healthy self-esteem is one of the most important things that parents can do for them in this modern time. Children need to be assured by their parents’ attitude that they are a special gift from God. This attitude of parents towards children would give them value, purpose, and direction in their young life. There are several ways how parents tear down children’s self-worth and self-esteem:

1. Perfectionism: Many parents see one ‘B’ among all ‘A’s’ which their children get at the end of a term. Such perfectionist parents will tear down their children’s self-esteem by never being satisfied with their accomplishments. Yes, it is good to fine tune of the children’s actions and it is desirable when parents are sure that the child’s self-esteem can handle it. However, it is important that children’s effort be applauded.

2. Overprotection: Parents should remember that bruised knees will heal, but low self-esteem can last for a lifetime.

3. Humiliation: There are many parents who, by their dealing with their children, think that they are motivating and correcting their children, but instead, they are humiliating them. Humiliation is a common way to rob and destroy a child of self-esteem. This applies to everyone, especially when we are dealing with our children. Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an:

“O you who believe! Do not humiliate one another by calling each other offensive names.” {Al Hujurat 11}

All parents are having different parental styles based on their personality type, background, and experience. Experts say that there are several styles that strengthen or weaken the child’s self-esteem and these are: permissive, free-reigning, authoritarian, controlling and nurturing and setting limits.

Most parents fall somewhere between permissive and controlling. Permissive and free-reigning parents often have trouble setting limits. Authoritarian parents often fail to listen what children have to say or show respect for their ideas or opinions. Controlling parents nurture and set limits for their children, but frequently go overboard in supervising them. The most balance style is between nurturing and setting limits. Islam promotes moderation in every aspect of life, including parenting, as Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an:

“And thus We have made you an Ummah of moderation (justly balanced).”{Al Baqarah 143}

On this basis, the ideal parents are those who achieve the right balance between nurturing and limit setting. They are firm in setting limits, yet they allow children freedom within these limits. They make very positive comments and are reasonable in discipline. They are principled, firm yet kind, merciful and generous. The reason is obvious: they care about their children and thus want to ensure that the children attain full potential on the path of their growth. If it happens that children sometimes face challenges on the path, they know that their parents’ support is inevitable.

This is the right way of understanding true Islamic upbringing/education (Tarbiyah) and its goals.