Grooming Our Children
Parents must realise that they will be answerable to God for how they have groomed their children. When the Prophet Jacob (Yaqub) was dying, he didn’t ask his children where they will rule or work or whatever. Rather, he asked them whom they will serve.
By Dr Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz
Proper parenting is today widely recognised as an issue of immense significance. How our children turn out to be depends much on the sort of parenting that we provide them.
Grooming children is something that should begin even before a couple gets married. How our children turn out to be has much to do with what criterion is used to select a marital partner .
Generally speaking, in our community what do we consider when looking for a groom or bride for our child? We look at the social status and wealth of a family, or the political influence it might have. We think that these things will give our children security and will help them lead a comfortable life. Some of us might even imagine that getting our children married into a family that is considered of high status will improve our own fortunes.
But, please think: Does the solution to our problems or that of our children lie in things like money and power, or does it lie with God?
It is a fact that relatively few families consider things like piety, intellect and morality of a family in selecting a partner for their children. Naturally, then, this will crucially effect our children and how they turn out to be.
Another issue that needs to be seriously considered here is that we have neglected the importance of a mother in the family. We have not given women the respect that they deserve. When a girl marries into a family, she is like a plant that has been suddenly uprooted and transplanted elsewhere. When a plant is transplanted, the gardener takes great care of it, providing it with appropriate nutrients and protection, so that it develops strong roots and grows into a healthy tree.
That is exactly how we should be treating our new daughters-in-law. But the reality is very different. Generally, we are eager to push daughters-in-law into domestic service as soon as possible. Mothers-in-law make the situation even more grim for them by complaining about them to their sons. In such a situation, how can young wives be at peace, leave alone grow intellectually, without which how will they become good mothers of good children?
In our society we don’t even recognise children as full personalities. We dismiss them by saying ‘They are just kids’. But kids today are very intelligent. They note everything. If at all we give them attention, it takes the form of verbal advice: “Do this! Don’t do that!”. Our children may hear us out, but our actions speak louder than our words. What they will act on is not our verbal advice but our own actions. So, for instance, if a boy sees his father bossing over the women in the house and treating them as if they should always be at his beck and call, that is how he will probably behave when he grows up.
If parents want their children to turn out well, there’s no alternative to spending enough quality time with them. But what do we do? In families where both parents are working outside the home, they send their children to a crèche or employ a maid—and in that way deny their children the parental presence that is indispensable for their healthy growth. Some parents get their children addicted to TV and video games so that they can go about with their work without having the ‘headache’ of minding the kids. In many other families, children are left to roam in the streets. They come back in the afternoon for lunch and then again they are off, into the streets. As a result, when they grow up, they do just that roam in the streets, whiling away time and coming home just to eat. Their parents have no idea what they are doing.
In preparing a dish, various ingredients are used. In a finely-prepared dish, the various ingredients are used in proper proportion. If there’s even just a little bit extra salt or chilly, one can easily make out the difference. So, too, when it comes to developing the character of a child. Various influences, including inputs from parents, are ingredients that go into developing their character. If there is even a slight imbalance in these influences, it will show up in how the child turns out to be.
Parents must realise that they will be answerable to God for how they have groomed their children. When the Prophet Jacob (Yaqub) was dying, he didn’t ask his children where they will rule or work or whatever. Rather, he asked them whom they will serve. A dying father is so concerned that his children should serve God and God alone. Is this our concern too?
We need to spend adequate time with our children and help them connect with the Quran, because without that they will not understand the difference between right and wrong. For this, it is important for them to understand the meaning of the Quran, through reliable translations, and communicate this understanding to their children. It is good that parents are sending their children to school. At the same time, however, they should make adequate arrangements for proper Quranic education of their children at home. In addition to this, they must seek to live out the Quranic teachings the best way to teach someone is to practice what one teaches.