By : Hojjat al-Islam Abdul Adheem al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani
Question : Each one of my children has his own special characteristics and ambitions. How should I deal with them in the house? I love them from the depths of my heart, but I am too arbitrary with them, and I fear that it will affect their futures. I do not know whether I am right or wrong in my way of dealing with them!
The answer : Dear brother, I have read wonderful educational statements of an Iranian writer called Muhammad Taqi Ma'soomi. I translate them here with my additions in reply to your question. The author says,
1. If you want your children to live psychologically and mentally in safety and soundness, you should avoid quarreling in their presence.
2. If you want your children to not be obstinate, you should not always reject their requests, insult them, or shout at them before others.
3. If you want your children to listen to you, you should listen to them carefully and respectfully.
4. If you want your children to not get used to bad morals and nervousness, you should not treat them with rude, superior orders and strict instructions.
5. If you want your children to not feel desperate or disappointed, you should not scold them with severe words when they fail to achieve success in something.
6. If you want your children to not mistrust you, you should not promise them what you cannot fulfill.
7. If you want to strengthen your children's self-confidence, you should praise them for their good deeds and reward them with some gifts.
8. If you want your children to obey you, you should not scold them or insist that they obey you.
9. If you want your children to be successful in the future, you should be a good example for them in orderliness, planning, and deliberation.
10. If you want your children to not be slack in speaking and talking to you, you should smile at them whenever they want to speak and show them that you will listen carefully to them when they want to talk.
11. If you want to help your children in studying their lessons, you should not do that without consulting someone who specializes in school affairs.
12. If you want to guide your children out of their troubles, you should listen to their questions carefully and react to their sufferings.
13. If your children are weak in their studies and you want to help them, you should not blame them with words like "failure", "weak", "dull", "stupid," etc.
14. If you want your children to not be defeated by despair and to not submit to failure when disappointed, you should assure them that bitter events pass away quickly.
Finally, dear brother, you should not lose your patience and be desperate because life is full of difficulties and memories. You should write down on its pages what pleases you and what will make your family remember you after your death with good thoughts and prayers.
Sowing the love of religion in children
Question : How can I sow the love of religion in my children so that they will adhere to it up to the last moment of their lives?
The answer : There is no doubt that the true religion of Islam has intellectual and practical teachings that feed man with a sound sustenance and make him happy in all fields of life. Since it is so, then the importance of religion in man's life makes it obligatory on him to make every effort to arrive at religion. Allah has said, (O you who believe! save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones)1.
Now, what should we do to sow the seed of religiousness in our children and to assure their adhering to it throughout their lives?
It is very important for fathers and mothers to know that children are born with a certain nature, but the environments they live in take them away from that nature. And there is no difference between home, school, and the street.
Watching the environment and purifying it from cultural poisons is the first step in the educational task. After that, you can make your children memorize the Qur'an, Hadith, or some religious oratorios and anthems according to their ages and incorporate that into their daily affairs; for example, when they want to go to bed, you can teach them to recite some Qur'anic verses and some supplications. You can say to them that these verses and supplications will make them sleep comfortably and they will see nice dreams and on the Day of Resurrection their reward will be great, or when they have their examinations, you can teach them to give alms and recite certain Qur'anic verses and certain supplications so that Allah may grant them success. You can also prepare some religious competitions for them and give prizes to the winners. Besides this, you should continuously take them to religious meetings.
Religious stories have great influences on planting Islamic concepts in children's minds, especially the stories of the prophets and imams (a.s.) and the stories of Paradise and its pleasures. Children must be taken to religious meetings and given a role there, such as distributing sweets, arranging books and the copies of the Qur'an, or the like.
You have to protect your children with spiritual relations and strengthen religious values in them before they reach adolescence or adulthood, because this stage is the stage of physical, psychological, mental, and intellectual changes. If their foundation is solid and firm, they will not be defeated by suspicions, and they will pass the stage of adolescence soundly and successfully.
1 Holy Qur'an, 66:6.