I have previously discussed step 1 and step 2 in raising an obedient child. As we progress to the final step, you’ll notice that it doesn’t get easier. This step isn’t really a “step”, it’s more like a foundation piece; an absolutely essential requirement in working towards raising respectful, God-conscious, considerate children, InshaAllah. So, step 3 - creating a system.
Learning to create a system is by far the hardest step because for the first 15 years of our children’s lives we have to remain extremely diligent about ensuring they have understood what’s expected of them (step 1) and that we have created avenues via dialogue and example to instill true value in their lives (step 2).
This “system” is not necessarily successful because of the actual system you choose to use in developing expectations and purpose in their lives, but rather its’ success is found through consistency. Ah, that word!
This Is All Us
Being consistent as a parent will make or break any efforts put forth, regardless what we’re hoping to do for our children. With that said, it is also important that parents also maintain a united front in the face of opposition, which I mentioned previously, but this is often why consistency suffers. One parent keeps up while the other let’s things slide. Children will whine and complain, but when creating and implementing a consistent system in the household both parents must be in agreement and remain steadfast. Even in a single parent homes, or in step-parent families all parties involved in the rearing of your children ideally should be on the same page. This isn’t always possible, but when they’re with you let them know why you’ve chosen to do what you do (of course if they’re too young then just keep doing your best and know that Allah Knows your intention and sees your efforts).
When we try to nurture qualities in our children without actually believing that there is true purpose in it, then after a while we’ll stop. It’s like going on a diet or maintaining a healthy daily living – if you aren’t truly convinced it’ll harm you, then after a while you’ll go back to it. So it’s important that we deeply value what we set out to instill and let our principals be a driving force behind the way parent.
Parents Are Human Too
Now, it may be that we do believe in we want for our children but we’re weak ourselves, and tired, and have our own issues, and have to deal with opinions of family and, and, and – it’s true, this life is a test- that’s why there’s Jannah, right? InshaAllah. So, what now? Where do we start in creating this system and also being a stronger, better us to impart the same onto our children?
Ready, Set, PRAY!
We start with dua (sincere supplication) - consistently, without fail, after every single salat, InshaAllah. Ask, beg, cry, turn to Allah Alone seeking the strength to do what it required to be a better you, and for your children to be a coolness and comfort to all. This dua "Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous." was mentioned in the Quran in Surah Furqan – 25:74. There’s wisdom and purpose in everything we find in the Quran, thus we need to learn to harness the strength and power of the words of Allah with sincere conviction.
With a promise to ourselves to make dua every single day without fail we can begin our journey to be the best parents possible, and rest assured we’ll never feel like we’re there yet, and that’s okay – actually that’s a good thing because it keeps us striving towards “purposely parenting”. Effort is our requirement, results are from Allah Alone. Make your efforts be strongly motivated, small, consistent steps as that will form the stepping stones for this “system” and unlock the secret to establishing consistency, InshaAllah.
Another point to always incorporate in this system is the concept of consequence. Naturally every action has a consequence: good or bad. It only works to the betterment of the child if they are able experience these consequences without parents being lax in allowing a concrete or even natural consequence to be apparent. So basically, don’t keep saving them because you feel bad (tough love, if you will?).
If they are not working hard in school they will do poorly, earn your disappointment, maybe lose the trust you gave them in completing their work away from your supervision etc. Then, of course if they do something well, like going for salat without being told, the consequence would result in a parent’s praise, affection, and/or appreciation for their steadfastness. As the child gets older, then consequences need to advance to non-tangible things, such as trust. An example would be that parents can offer more or less independence to their children depending on level of trust they’ve established by proving their responsibility or lack of etc.
Bring It In
The point to understand here is as our children get older they too are faced with chaos, pressures, and “norms”. Their beliefs and character will be questioned by society, so it’s important they grow up with stability (values) in the home based on a vision of what parents want for their children (expectation), along with a clear indication of what they fail to lose or gain by doing or not something (consequence).
It requires diligence but again nothing truly amazing happens without sincerely striving hard for it on some level, right?
Our next post we’ll discuss the ONE character trait that parent’s can focus on which will lead to righteousness (guaranteed through Hadith), bi’ithnillah, by the Facilitation of Allah (ameen).