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Respect and Love Transform the Personalities of Children

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Our Prophet (Pbuh) demonstrated a simple life and made things simple for the coming generation. We left his divine ways and now are paying the high price in the form of a ruined young generation. A generation that has lost its dignity and potential to balance life and maintain harmony.

There is no doubt that children need both love and respect. We provide them with food, but we have stopped sitting with them at the table. If we sit with them, then we are on the laptops or over the phones. There were days when parents used to sit with the children and feed them with their own hands. Those few morsels were the reason to touch their hearts and shape their personalities.

Heart warming and soothing discussions were part of our lives over lunch or dinners. Parents were demonstrating high morals of paying respect to the food firmly and politely. How to eat? How to sit? And even how to laugh with elders was taught. We have left this approach of parenting or mentoring, so how can we wish to receive the desired outcome from our children? When we don’t form a strong bond with them, there is no obedience.

Our five times Salah teaches us the worth of bonding. Salah is a medium of a strong bond with Allah the exalted and a loving discussion with the creator and receiving warmth from Almighty Allah. This slow process of bonding shapes up an obedient and practicing believer. But we are not applying it to our children and forgetting the importance of bonding.

There are many ways to form an unbreakable bond with our children in the early seven years.

Reassuring physical touch can make a huge difference. Physical expressions of love include touch such as kissing, hugging, patting of backs, stroking of heads, and holding or squeezing of hands. It also includes non-touch such as encouraging gestures like the thumbs up and a smile and a look in the eye. Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) showed his affection for the children in many ways. He hugged them and patted them on the back. He touched their heads, combed their hair with his fingers, etc.

“…Allah’s Messenger took Ibrahim (his son) and kissed him and smelt him…” [Bukhari]

The following hadith shows how kissing your children has been related to the amount of mercy and kindness you have in your heart.

‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that there came a few desert Arabs to Allah’s Messenger and said: Do you kiss your children? He said: Yes. Thereupon they said: By Allah but we do not kiss our children. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger said: Then what can I do if Allah has deprived you of mercy? … [Muslim]

Through Respect
Respect is a two-way street and when you choose to model mutual respect, you’ll be well on your way to raising respectful children.

`A’isha, the Umm al-Mu’minin, said, “I did not see anyone who more resembled the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in the manner of speaking than Fatima. When she came to him, he stood up for her, made her welcome, and had her sit in his place. When the Prophet came to her, she stood up for him, took his hand, made him welcome, and made him sit in her place. She came to him during his final illness and he greeted her and kissed her.” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 971]

It’s a perfect example of how kids treat parents based on how they are treated because we, as parents, are their first school of love. These days when we lack common courtesies, how can we teach our kids to be respectful? Are both respectful to us and other kids and adults? The answer is that we have to model the respect we hope to see from our kids. When children feel valued and capable, they are less likely to engage in power struggles.

Through Gifts
As parents, we are always buying things for our children. Giving gifts is not about the material accumulation of toys and clothing or about satisfying our child’s whims and fancies for the latest things. Instead, it should be about giving with love whatever you give! Especially giving of our love.

If you give your child a toy, then make sure you spend time to play that toy with her. If you give your child a book, then make sure you sit and read that book to or with him. It’s more about the love that you can both share with that gift. Children often crave your attention more than the gift itself.

Quality Time
When you spend quality time with your child, it tells him or her that you love being with him or her. Being able to spend time with your loved ones is crucial to any relationship. I will reiterate here that children crave their parent’s attention whether negative or positive attention. Most of the time parents give their children negative attention by focusing on what their children shouldn’t do. This will only reinforce the negative action. Parents should instead focus on giving children their positive attention. One way to do this is to spend quality time together.

It was narrated that Abu Taiya said: “I heard Anas Bin Malik say: The Messenger of Allah used to mix with us so much that he said to a little brother of mine: “O Abu `Umair, what happened to the Nughair (one of the narrators Waki` said that it means a bird that he used to play with).” [Ibn Majah]

Children don’t understand hidden love. Express your love openly for them in every little thing. Children thrive during play instead of being burdened with too much organization and extra-curricular activities. Prophet Muhammad would have fun with the children, make them laugh, and play with them – Sunnah encourages simplicity; a simple life with plenty of time to play.

Our Prophet demonstrated a simple life and made things simple for the coming generation. We left His divine ways and now are paying the high price in the form of a ruined young generation. A generation that has lost its dignity, grandeur, and potential to balance life and maintain harmony.

Being hopeful is a sign of Imaan. A strong hope is still alive. The moment we realize where we failed we can mend it with the help of Allah the Almighty and with lots of Duas.

Let us promise ourselves at this moment to turn to Allah and seek help at every step of mentoring our children to transform the atmosphere of our household into a blooming garden. When we will achieve this vital goal of our lives then our children will become obedient personalities with worldly success and in the hereafter too.