Principles of Parenting – Book Sample
PRINCIPLES OF PARENTING
The third generation: after the world wars: my generation
My father once saw me pocking one finger into my nose. He slapped my hand and I began to cry in protest, very surprised. He looked at me with angry eyes, slapped me on the head and exclaimed, “Now, you will know why you are crying!”
My mother rushed and said softly “Now, now, hush, my baby. If you continue crying, I will slap you on the face myself.” I stopped.
“Medicine!” my mom exclaimed. That was the education of the third generation after the wold wars.
When we were young, we were told “mind your manners!”, “do not eat with your left hand!”, “sit straight!”, “put your hands on the table!”,
“cast down your eyes when you are talking to your elders!”.
We stood stiff, not knowing what to do, not wanting to anger our father or mother further. When we did a mistake, it was like having the breath of the Hellfire coming at us. Our cheeks went red, our lips began to tremble; we were scared to move and do something we did not know or did not remember was forbidden.
Many generations of non-Muslims have been raised in the fear of their parents, especially the father who was seen as the one who put things back in order once back home. The mother was usually seen as the one who loosened the strings or came to the rescue. She was the submissive one and the follower, but she tied the whole family together; she was the indispensable knot.
As I think about the Muslim children education, I feel proud to be a Muslim. Rasulullaah (swas) never slapped any children and he was a model of patience with them. He let children express themselves, but not too much; they knew where their place was.
Instead, he said, “Hang up the whip where the members of the household can see it.” (Reported by Abu Na’eem in al-Hilyah, 7/332; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, no. 1446). And that sums it all!
Hinting instead of hitting as punishment is viewed in Islam as an effective means of discipline. The reason for hanging up a whip or stick in the house was explained in another report, where the Prophet (swas) said: “Hang up the whip where the members of the household can see it, for this is more effective in disciplining them.” (Reported by al-Tabaraani, 10/344-345; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, no. 1447)
The intimidation should be enough to discourage the family from straying because the one who has bad intentions refrain from indulging in his bad behavior.
Ibn al-Anbaari said: “There is nothing to suggest that it should be used for hitting, because [the Prophet (swas)] did not command anyone to do that. What he meant was: keep on disciplining them.” (See Fayd al-Qadeer by al-Mannaawi, 4/325).
I remember clearly my grandmother hiding the whip where my parents could not find it. It is how it ceased to be used in our home. And every time my father was reminded of this whip, he would crack a smile in affection for the elder of the family. He knew then that he had been wrong.
Hitting is only a way to discipline when all other means have been tried. Allaah says, “As to those women on whose part you fear ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful)” [al-Nisa’ 4:34] in that order.
There is also the hadeeth: “Order your children to pray when they are seven years old, and hit them if they do not do so when they are ten.”
(Sunan Abi Dawood, 1/334; see also Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 1/266).
Hitting family members can but cause resentment and intense fear that do not instill love and caring in the family relationships.
Showing one’s feelings, like anger, disappointment, displeasure, and explaining clearly what displeased us is a sure way to bring trust between parents and children.
Aa’ishah (RA) said: “If the Messenger of Allaah (swas) came to know that one of his household had told a lie, he would try to ignore him until he repented.” (See al-Musnad by Imaam Ahmad, 6/152. The text of the hadeeth is also in Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 4675).
In the last resort, confining children to an isolated room works and it should not be pursued after the child has asked for forgiveness to Allaah first, then to the family.
As a teacher, I have noticed how children have reacted to this kind of teaching. Children used to argue with each other and even be mean to each other.
So, each time they had a quarrel, all activity ceased and children gathered in a circle. We discussed what Allaah expects from us as Muslims, to love each other, then we all said
‘astaghfirullaah’, even those who had done nothing because it is recommended to say ‘astaghfirullaah’ more than a hundred times a day. Afterwards, we would take each other’s hands into our own because then sins are flowing away like water flows, and said ‘sorry’, ‘forgive me’ to each other.
All children had to get to the point where quarreling caused more problem (class interruption, personal efforts) than keeping the peace.
So hinting became an excellent way to discipline.
Anger, frustration just provokes the opposite.
Educating means getting smart!
When I was a child, I lied to my father; he always kept the idea that I was an incorrigible liar. He could never see me otherwise. The result is I kept lying out of fear, until I found a better way.
One day I played on stage at school. I was so convincing, my teachers said in amazement, “She understands the play; she is clever; she has a lot of imagination!” My father, who had awoken from sleep after a 24 hours shift, said, “You were good, no wonder, you are a professional liar!” I was expecting praises; I got disdain instead.
At that time, fathers would never show their approbation before their children; they were afraid we would become conceited. So, even if the world would tell us we were good, if our father said something negative, we would only consider what he said.
This was certainly a way to push children to find approbation and look for help outside the home rather than inside.
I personally looked outside, more than happy to reach an age of maturity. I am glad some people on this earth have good memories of their childhood; if only they knew how lucky they have been!
So, from now on, I remained with the feeling that no matter what I would do, I would never please my father and no matter what I would be successful in later on in my life, it did not count.
I was not worth it!When others would praise me, it felt it could never be honest. When someone loved me, I could not believe in it or appreciate it. I came that close to believe at the impossibility that I could love anyone ever. It took years to appreciate myself again, to re conquer everything, years of misery at the ugly school of life.
But it was worth it!
It was in the fold of Islam that I regained my inner balance.
One has to learn to be human in the corridors of life and life without Islam is like a labyrinth, many intricate passages that drive people on dead ends and dead ends again, almost buried in the tides of events.