The Balance in Raising Our Children
by Imam Zijad
Narrated Abu Huraira (r) that al-Aqra’ b. Habis saw Allah’s Apostle (S) kissing Hasan. He said: “I have ten children, but I have never kissed any one of them, whereupon Allah’s Messenger (S) said: He who does not show mercy (towards his children), no mercy would be shown to him.”
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ الأَقْرَعَ بْنَ حَابِسٍ، أَبْصَرَ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يُقَبِّلُ الْحَسَنَ فَقَالَ إِنَّ لِي عَشَرَةً مِنَ الْوَلَدِ مَا قَبَّلْتُ وَاحِدًا مِنْهُمْ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِنَّهُ مَنْ لاَ يَرْحَمْ لاَ يُرْحَمْ
Transliteration: “Innahu Man La Yarham, La Yurham.”
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 here and now.
Children need to be assured by their parents’ attitude of care, love and mercy, not just words, that they are a special gift from God.
This attitude of parents towards children would give them sense of value, purpose, and direction in their young life.
If parents do not achieve this goal but focus on weakening or tearing their children’s self-esteem, that could leave long term consequences in their lives of their own children.
There are several ways how parents tear down children’s self-worth and self-esteem:
- 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.
- Overprotection: Parents should remember that bruised knees will heal, but low self-esteem can last for a lifetime.
- Humiliation: There are many parents who, by their way of dealing with their children and the way they talk to them, think that they are motivating and correcting their children, but instead, they are really 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 experiences.
Experts say that there are several styles of parenting that strengthen or weaken the child’s self-esteem, and these are: permissive, free-reigning, authoritarian, controlling and nurturing and limits setting.
Most parents fall somewhere between permissive and controlling styles.
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 and micromanaging them.
The most balance style of parenting is the one that falls between nurturing and setting limits.
Islam promotes moderation in every aspect of life, as pointed in the last three posts, 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 those 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 development and growth.
If it happens that children sometimes face challenges on that path, children will know that their parents’ support is inevitable and available at any point in time they need it.
Ya Rabb! Guide us parents to nurture our children and set limits in their lives so that our lives and their lives be filled with progress, success, cooperation and mutual celebrations!