Rafed English

Parents Mutually Involved

The surveys indicated that both parents were involved in the care and training of the children. Reference was made to rights of children and parents from the aspect of rights that need to be extended to the children by the parents and from the children to the parents. They feel children's rights do not include having everything they may impulsively want. Children do have the right to be directed in the prescribed way through good parental guidance and have the right to safety, good care, and treatment that helps them maintain good self-esteem. On the other hand, parents have the right to receive respect and care from the children. Inherent in those guidelines for rights are respect, hard work, and a sense of authority that is often hard to maintain in our democratic setting where the children tend to claim their "rights" early on regarding what they want to do.

+A hadith [one of the sayings, deeds, and practices of Prophet Muhammad] says the first school is the lap of the mother. The only thing that has changed since my conversion is my awareness of my children's rights. It was easy to quiet them before but they have a right to be heard. It was easy to smack their buttocks before, but is the smack justified? You can't leave marks or scars inside or out. I must constantly be aware of their rights and my responsibility toward them, to feed, clothe, and educate them both academically and religiously. One day, I'll have to answer for all of it.

+Our child-rearing techniques are conservative and strict with lots of love, hugs, and kisses. My husband has always participated in all child-rearing activities. My rights with the children are equal to that of my husband, if not a little extra on my side. My obligations are to provide them the environment, rules, and love that they will need to grow into compassionate, well-rounded adults with a clear view of right and wrong. Their rights and obligations to me are to treat me with respect.

As previously stated, the fathers are often very much involved in the care of the children whether or not the wife works outside the home or is involved in furthering her education. The fathers may feel especially strong needs to be involved in the guidance of their children when they are not living in a country that offers support to their Islamic principles. Lacking the presence of extended family may also foster a greater involvement with their children. Specific reasons for the active involvement by the fathers are not made clear in the responses of the women. The women do, however, seem to appreciate their husband's involvement in child care and training.

+I am more concerned about what our children learn and who teaches them than I would be if I weren't a Muslim. My husband is very involved by spending time with them in the evenings, playing with them, reading to them, and teaching them things. He helps feed them and with potty training and sometimes gives them a bath. He takes our son with him sometimes when he has to go out, to spend more time with him and to give me a break. I am about 95 percent of the time obligated to take care of their every need. I am allowed to do anything within reason with them. I always have my husband's permission to take them with me wherever I go. +From day one, my husband has been very active and helpful with the child-rearing. He has been watching our daughter for several years while I worked outside the home. He has never hit her or spanked her, and plays with her often. I often feel he has high expectations sometimes not within reason in regards to dress, etc. Then we talk and obtain resolution.

+My child-rearing techniques have not been influenced by being Muslim. I was already doing most of what I do before I converted. My level of patience and understanding in dealing with the children has improved, but I have not made any changes in the techniques. My husband is involved in caring for the children as much as he can be. When he is home we share the tasks just about equally. He bathes the children every other night, helps with hand washing and tooth brushing; deals with arguments, fixes snacks, and occasionally reads for our , nightly story time. My children are young (six and four). Our rights and obligations with respect to each other are still very basic. The responses of the women to their responsibility of child-rearing reflected how seriously they perceived that role. They yearn to provide the kind of training and opportunities that will result in their child becoming an adult who will be in submission to Allah and be good, practicing Muslims. Those of us who have raised children in our own religious traditions have yearned for our skills to be adequate to the task of rearing children in the path that would lead them to God. How similar are Our desires!

Adapted from: "Daughters Of Another Path (Experience of American Women Choosing Islam)" by: "Carol L. Anway"

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