Crossing the threshold from being couples to being parents opens a whirlwind of changes in our lives. Keeping aside the physical, mental, and emotional overdrive, we must deal with other issues too. One of them is the people with whom we interact.
There are two types of people one comes across when we become parents. First ones who would flood you with suggestions, such as, “do so and so..try this and that..” and the second are the ones that start off with “don’t you know..” or “haven’t you already..?” making one wonder if one should have known this beforehand. A new parent would feel overwhelmed by this overload of suggestions and advice, especially the mother, as women are the primary caregivers of children in India.
To begin with, we must remember that the age of our parenthood is the same as our first child. So, if you have a 6-month-old baby, then your parenthood age is six months. Keeping this in mind while navigating the roller-coaster of parenting is helpful. This knowledge helps one be more compassionate to him or herself. It is okay to make mistakes (instead of learning opportunities). One learns to trust their own instincts and learns to read the child as we become observant. As the parent is more in tune with the child’s needs, the child will have fewer episodes of distress. This will strengthen the bonding between the parent and the child.
One learns early on to respect the child’s needs, and the child, in turn, learns through modeling how to be respectful and considerate to other beings in one’s life. This reminds me of the Hadith of our beloved Prophet, where he visits a young child whose bird had died. The compassion and respect that our Prophet modeled was a balm to the hurting child’s heart.
Life would have been so easy if, as when one entered parenthood, we were also handed a parenting manual. But regretfully so, that is not the case. The day our children are born, we become parents. We must learn on the job and through trial and error, most of the time. One must remember to calculate our parenthood age as our first child. We must keep this in mind rather than our biological age.
By the mercy and grace of Allah, Allah has provided us with a broad framework in the Quran. The Hadith also gives us practical tips in the implementation of this framework. It applies both to the parents and the child (when they reach the age of understanding).
To make any process smooth, we must first accept the role’s responsibility. Acceptance opens one’s heart and mind to look at the best possible way of executing that responsibility. The work or role should benefit both parties; the parents and the children are here. Yes, as parents, we want the best for our children. So, what is best for our children? We want to teach the love for Allah to our children. We want our children to see Allah as the Most Merciful, the Most Just, and the Provider of all things. This love for Allah will help set them on a path of Submission.
One way of inculcating love for Allah is to teach them, from a very young age, all the beautiful names of Allah. Make stories of them and narrate them in an engaging way. Through these stories, one can teach children the power of choice, of the blessing of free will that Allah has blessed us with, to name a few. We want to guide them to make such choices that would benefit them in duniya and the hereafter—the choice between Haq and Batil.