Parents are the most important people in the life of a child, so much so that their habits and behaviour become a model for the child. Whatever the child observes from them, such as their housekeeping habits, their manners, their relationship with others, the way they spend money, the way they deal with difficult situations and in general their lifestyle, will all undoubtedly affect the child’s character and how they will be tomorrow.
Both parents hold enormous leverage with what they teach their children and how they mould them. Islam places the responsibility for the children’s upbringing upon the parents.
The Prophet ﷺ said:
Allah ﷻ will ask every caretaker about the people under his care, and the man will be asked about the people of his household” [Nasa’i, Abu Dawud]
There is so much reward for raising righteous children, so much that each time a child does a good deed the parents are also rewarded for it and even after the parents have left this world the child’s good deeds and prayers are treated as an ongoing charity for the deceased parents.
The Prophet ﷺ said
‘When the human being dies, his deeds come to an end except for three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him.”
The way children are brought up makes all the difference to what kind of a person they will be tomorrow. The way their parents live, their manners and how they handle situations become the norm for them. If a child has not been raised in an Islamic environment or taught prophetic examples but is simply following the dominant culture since early childhood then it is very difficult and will take a lot effort to change later on in life. Although it is possible to change ourselves at any time in our life there is nothing like having Islamic beliefs and values ingrained in you from childhood.
Here are few ways that you can inculcate good habits in your children and promote God consciousness in them:
1. Teaching children to say ‘Bismillah’ before they do anything including eating, drinking or playing.
2. Talk about Allah ﷻ and how He made everything including the trees, the sky, the sun, the moon and also mummy and daddy too.
3. Talk to your children about the changing seasons, how Allah ﷻ causes things to die and grow again. Point out the trees in autumn and then again in spring, promote reflecting on these signs of Allah ﷻ.
4. Talk about the ants, the birds, the rain, the spiders web and how Allah ﷻ gave them the ability to look after themselves and taught them how to.
5. Apologise to your child when you mess up, tell them you are not perfect and will sometimes make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, since only Allah ﷻ is perfect, but we all can learn from our mistakes and need to constantly try be better.
6. Tell your children the Prophets ﷺ stories and how they dealt with different situations in his lifetime.
7. Tell your children that Allah ﷻ is always watching us, even when no one sees what we are doing Allah knows.
8. Read Quran and Islamic books yourself and make sure your children see you reading, learning and making Islam a priority in your home.
9. Make Islam a very fixed part of your life, when you are sad or feeling dejected in life look to the Quran and the Prophets ﷺ life for consolation and solace.
Generally speaking people always try to be on their best behaviour when they are with their friends, relatives or in the work environment but when they are at home they are less conscious of how they are behaving. It is at home and in the presence of children that parents should display the best of manners, be humble and positive. Parents should never talk negatively about other people and particularly when children are present.
Many parents think it too much of a burden to be acting perfectly all the time, even in the familiarity of their own homes, but there really is no better time to taking steps toward changing and improving yourself.
It is not perfection that Islam demands from parents but instead a willingness to accept the responsibility of modeling good behaviour and following the beautiful practices of Islam.
The Prophet ﷺ said
‘The best gift to children from parents is their correct training’ [Tirmidhi]
May Allah ﷻ make us exemplary parents
for our sons and daughters and make us a beautiful example for them to imitate. Surely without your guidance we will go astray, O Allah guide us.