Some useful points in interacting with Children
a. Mothers should be careful that when tending to the cleanliness of their children (e.g. giving them baths), even newborns, other children are not present, especially those who are of a different gender.
b. From childhood, parents should not play with the child’s genital organs, or even their chest and thighs.
c. Never leave children alone or in private for long periods of time and when they are going through an inquisitive phase. It is also not recommended to leave them unattended with someone else during this time, especially a brother or sister.
d. Do not let girls of 6 years sit on a non-mahram man’s lap or be kissed by non-mahram men.
e. Do not let girls be naked in front of others. In particular, their chests and thighs should be covered.
f. Create love for Sala-t in your child, as Alla-h (swt) clearly states in the Noble Qur’an that Sala-t makes one far from ugly acts.
“Indeed the prayer prevents indecencies and wrongs.” 258
11. Spoiling a child creates weakness, and a lack of will and determination. These types of children trouble their parents in their childhood, and make them encounter many problems.
The spoilt children themselves face two types of problems
a. They have expectations that the rest of society will, like their parents, comfort and respect them no matter what, and carry out their wishes without any questions. When they realise that people will not only not do this, but will also ridicule these expectations, they become upset and feel humiliated and debased.
b. Such experiences form the base of contempt and make them angry, aggressive, lacking patience and weak. They become the type of people who think low of others and treat them with harsh words and actions.
12. Nothing silences the sense of self-trust in a child more than forcing him to do things they may not have the capability of doing. This is especially the case when, if the child is unsuccessful, it is followed by belittling statements like: “Don’t bother trying, you can’t, you don’t have the capability.”
13. Pray for your children, both during pregnancy and afterwards. 259
14. Reminders and requests should be given with gentleness and softness so as not to create a barrier between parents and child. One day, Ima-m Husain (as) called his children and his brother’s children together and said to them: “All of you are the children of today’s society and, it is hoped, the leaders of tomorrow’s society. So learn and make efforts in the acquisition of knowledge, and whoever does not have a good memory and cannot memorise the subjects taught by the teacher in teaching sessions, (should) write them down and keep them at home.” Thus we see that the Ima-m created the love of acquiring knowledge in them without using techniques like scaring or forcing them, but by making them understand that knowledge is the path to honour and esteem.
15. If your child is respected, he/she is less likely to rebel against the rules of the house. Respect and good interaction between parent and child are the bases in forming the child’s character. It is narrated from the Prophet (s): “Respect your children and talk to them with (good) manners and a likeable method.”
16. A good role model is someone who adjusts their children’s desires wisely and with the correct techniques.
17. Foster the faith of your child. Children that have been raised from the beginning with faith in Alla-h (swt) have a strong will and powerful soul and from their early years are mature and courageous; this is easily observed by their actions and words. The readiness of the soul of a child to learn faith and Akhla-q is like fertile ground in which any type of seed can grow. Therefore, parents should teach their child love for Alla-h (swt) and the Ahlul Bayt (as) and leaders of Islam from the earliest opportunities.
It is narrated from Ima-m as-Sa-diq (as): “Teach traditions to your children as soon as possible, before opposers (to your beliefs) reach them before you do.” 260
In traditions, parents who do not take the future life (aakhirat) of their children into consideration are reproached. It is narrated that the Prophet (s)’s gaze fell on some children and he said: “Woe upon the children of the end of time (before the coming of the 12th Ima-m) because of the disliked methods of their fathers.” It was asked of him: “Oh Prophet (s) of Alla-h (swt)! Because of their polytheistic fathers?” He replied, “No, because of their Muslim fathers who didn’t teach their children any religious duties. They were content with worthless material things for them. I am weary and exempt of such people…” 261
It is said that in communist Russia, they used to eliminate the existence of God from the ground roots level; for example, when a child was hungry or thirsty their parents would let them cry and say to them, “Ask God to provide for you.” When the children would do this, and still remain hungry and thirsty, they used to say to them, “See, you cried to God he gave you nothing! Now ask Lenin (the Russian leader) to provide for you!” When the children would do this, then only would they give them food and drink. The effect of this was that it was instilled in the children from childhood that God doesn’t exist through this very deluded manner. This same concept is condemned in Surat Ya-si-n, Verse 47:
“The faithless say to the faithful, ‘Shall we feed (someone) whom Alla-h (swt) would have fed, had He wished? You are only in manifest error.’”
However, this is a wonderful lesson to us as to how Alla-h (swt) should be introduced to a child from young age. Whenever a child gets to that age that he understands that whenever they desire something they need to ask their parents, their parents should ask them first to ask from Alla-h (swt). Then when they provide the desired object, they should stress that it reached them through the blessings of Alla-h (swt). Thus, as they grow up, they will be able to see Alla-h (swt) as the underlying principal behind every action.
18. Stay away from wrist-grabbing and bossy behaviour with children.
19. One of the duties of parents is to foster the innate nature of telling the truth in children. Their behaviour in the house should be such that this becomes a habit. However, this is one of the more difficult areas of raising a child and attention to knowledge and action is very important.
It is narrated in a tradition from the Prophet (s): “May Alla-h (swt) have mercy on the person that helps his child in (doing) good.” The narrator of the tradition asked: “How?” In his reply, the Prophet (s) gave 4 instructions:
a. Whatever the child has in his power and has carried out, accept it.
b. Don’t expect that which is hard for him.
c. Prevent him from sin.
d. Don’t lie to him, or do silly things.
20. Do not use fear as a method of raising your child, as this causes damage to their personality and leads to psychological problems. In particular, excess punishment by the mother weakens the relationship and value that the child has for his mother in his heart. Often a look or silence can be more effective in making the child understand their mistake than hitting them or scaring them.
21. Cuddling and kissing a child is one of their soul-foods, and it is necessary that enough of this is given to them. One of the reasons that a child is crying may be that they are thirsty for this expression of love. Children who grow up with plenty of love have confident personalities which are not swayed by the difficulties that crop up in life.
It is narrated from Ima-m as-Sa-diq (as): “Certainly Alla-h (swt) shows mercy upon His servants who have strong love for their offspring.” 262 It is also narrated from the Ima-m: “Prophet Mu-sa- (as) said the following to Alla-h (swt) when he was on the mountain of Tur: “O Alla-h (swt)! Which act is the best one according to you?” Alla-h (swt) replied: “Loving children is the best act.”“
22. Parents have a responsibility to make their children understand the indecency of sin and create an aversion for people who partake in this, and likewise, to reproach the bad and encourage the child’s good actions. However, reproach and admiration has its time and place and should not be overdone as this itself can corrupt a child.
23. The beds of children of 6 years and above should be separated from each other, even if they are both daughters or both sons. 263
24. As well as the natural characteristics that the child inherits from his parents, the environment and Nurture of the child have a profound effect. It is highly unlikely that in a family that does not function properly, a normal and natural child is raised.
In particular, the instructions of parents only have an effect if the parents lead by example. The first step of raising children is the Nurture of the self. Somebody who does not possess good Akhla-q cannot guide another to this, and similarly, hot-tempered parents cannot usually raise a calm and patient child.
Children need to be taught that characteristics such as lying, back-biting, bad language, etc. are disliked, and naturally, the child will refrain from such when the parents themselves have set such examples.
25. There should be a difference in the order and expectations of the behaviour of a child inside the home, and out. At home, allow the child to play freely.
26. Always bear the unexpected behaviour of your child to a limit and do not always take the mistakes of your chid to be unforgivable, so that you are not always compelled to punish. Patience, coping and forgiveness are a must when raising children. If your child has a quality that you do not like, it should be corrected in a wise manner without displaying contempt of the child, and the correct manner of doing things should be shown at the same time as stopping him/her from old ways.
When parents constantly tell the child off, they are belittling the child and not only are they not going to be successful in reforming the child, but are also going to create stubbornness in them. It is narrated from Ima-m ‘Ali- (as): “Excess reproach fuels the fire of stubbornness.” 264
27. When instructing your child, don’t mention the names of other children constantly, or compare them with others.
28. Stories are a useful and important method of encouraging good qualities and characteristics, and discouraging bad ones, such as the rights of friends, faith, etc. The Noble Qur’an uses this method to do the same as mentioned in Surat Yu-suf, Verse 111:
“There is certainly a moral in their accounts for those who possess intellect.”
It is important to keep the following in mind when selecting stories:
a. They should mention Alla-h (swt) in some form or the other, and be narrated with the intention of Nurturing the personality and characteristics of your child.
b. Attention should be paid to the child’s age, intelligence and mental state when choosing a story.
c. There shouldn’t be extremes, or lies or rumours far from the truth in the stories.
d. They should contain answers to the questions of the child.
e. The best stories should be chosen, just as Alla-h (swt) has stated in Surat Yu-suf, Verse 3:
“We will recount to you the best of narratives.”
f. Truth and righteousness should always prevail in the stories.
g. The main character (who is the role model) of the stories should not possess deviations or bad characteristics.
h. The stories should not be too lengthy or tiring for the child.
29. The mischievousness of your child in the early years is a sign of increased intelligence in the older years, so you shouldn’t be too worried or punish it too much.
30. Make your children perform Sala-t from 7 years, and fast from 9 years, either half day or more or less, depending on their abilities.
It is narrated from Ima-m as-Sa-diq (as): “When our children reach 5 years of age, we tell them to pray Sala-t, so you tell your children to do this when they reach 7 years of age; and we tell our chidren at the age of 7 years to fast however much they have the ability to, half a day, or more, or less, and to break their fast when they become hungry or thirsty so that they get used to fasting and develop the ability for it, so you tell your children at the age of 9 years to fast however much they have the ability for, and when thirst overcomes them, to break their fast.” 265 and 266
It is also narrated in a tradition: “We command our children to (do) the tasbih of Hadrat Fa-tima, just like we command them to (pray) Sala-t.” 267
258 Su-rat al-’Ankabu-t, Verse 45
259 Recommended supplications for a righteous child have been covered in more depth in Chapter 6: Pregnancy, Recommended Supplications.
260 al-Ka-fi-, vol. 6, pg. 47
261 Mustadrak al-Wasa-il, vol. 2, pg. 625
262 Biha-r al-Anwa-r, vol. 103, pg. 7
263 Mustadrak al-Wasa-il, vol. 2, pg. 558
264 Tuhaf al-’Uqu-l, pg. 84
265 al-Ka-fi-, vol. 3, pg. 409, no. 1
266 This tradition specifically refers to boys; the general implication, however, is that children should be trained to pray and fast a few years before they reach buloogh, so that they develop the ability for it.
267 al-Ka-fi-, vol. 3, pg. 343, no. 13
Adapted from the book: "From Marriage to Parenthood; The Heavenly Path" by: "Abbas and Shahin Merali"
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