Ways to Show Your Children That You Love Them - Part One
One of the most effective ways of successful parenting is building a loving relationship with your children. When your children know that you love them, they will feel valued and in turn develop a positive self-image of themselves. Children’s sense of self-worth is usually gained by how they are treated by people—especially their parents who tend to be the most significant people in their lives. Moreover, building a loving relationship with your children will build a solid foundation that will improve your child’s responses to your instructions and help them faithfully come to you whenever they face a problem. But how can we build a loving and caring relationship with our children? How can we show them that we love them? Here are some guidelines from the Quran and Sunnah.
1-Express Your Love Verbally
I once asked a ten-year-old child about which one of these two options makes him feel loved: knowing that his parents are working hard for him or hearing ‘I love you’ from them? Without any hesitation, he chose the second option. The way children perceive love is different from the way we tend to show it. Children may have loving parents; yet, they do not feel loved. The fact we need to face is, ‘just because we love our children does not necessarily mean that they feel loved’.
Thus, the first step to show your children that you love them is to demonstrate your love by saying to them: ‘I love you.’ Due to their cultural backgrounds, some parents never express their love verbally and others feel embarrassed to do so. We should understand that such cultural notions and practices run counter to the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (S). Imam Abu Dawud reported that Prophet Muhammad (S) gently held the hands of Mu’ath ibn Abi Jabal (R) and said, “O Mu’ath, by Allah, I love you indeed. By Allah I love you indeed. Thus, my advice to you is to repeat the following du’aa after finishing each Salah, ‘O Allah, assist me in remembering You, thanking You and worshiping You well.’”
Remember that feeling loved is a human emotion that needs to be fulfilled. If parents do not meet this emotional need, your child may seek other individuals to fulfill this emotional vacuum. These individuals may end up negatively influencing or abusing your child.
2-Express Your Love Unconditionally
To love your child unconditionally means loving them regardless of their test score, a life changing decision or an argument. The amount of parental love should be unwavering and unconditional. This does not mean that parents should approve of their child’s poor behavior or poor performance. Children need to advised, corrected and helped. Still, there is a huge difference between telling your child that you do not love him or her because of the low grades they received and hugging that same child, assuring him that you love him and discussing various ways to help him get better grades. If you make your love for your child contingent on receiving a high grade, then you love the grade, not the child.
3-Express Your Love Prayerfully
The Quran teaches us that one of the distinguished qualities of the true servants of Allah is that they pray sincerely for their children, offspring and household. Allah (SWT) described ‘Ibad-ur-Rahman’ (The Servants of the Merciful) as, “And those who pray, “Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous.”(5:27)
A quick glance at the Quran shows us that praying for your children starts before they are born. For instance, Prophet Ibrahim (S) asked Allah, “O my Lord, Grant me a righteous [son]!”(37:100) After being blessed with Ismail (S), Prophet Ibrahim (S) continued his prayers, “O my Lord, make this city one of peace and security: and preserve me and my sons from worshipping idols.”(14:35)
Let your children hear you praying passionately and sincerely for them. Such prayers will demonstrate your care for them and reveal your sincere love. Do not expect immediate change. These payers will be remembered and appreciated years later or even after our death. Prophet Muhammad (S) was reported to have voiced his prayers for children. Imam An-Nasai and Ibn Hibban reported, on the authority of Thabit, that the Messenger (S) used to visit the Ansar, greet their children, wipe mercifully over their heads and pray for them. He prayed for Ibn Abbas, “O Allah, grant him deep understanding of the [matters of] Religion.” [Muslim] He prayed for Anas ibn Malik: “O Allah, increase his wealth and children” and “bless what You gave him.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
It is noteworthy to remind parents of the Prophet (S)’s warning against saying a prayer against your child or any family member—no matter how angry or upset you might be. Not only will such prayers make them detached and more rebellious but they may be answered as well. Imam Muslim reported that the Prophet (S) said, “Do not say a prayer against yourselves. Do not say a prayer against your children, and do not say a prayer against your wealth lest these prayers may correspond with a time when Allah answers the prayers.”
We ask Allah (SWT) to grant wisdom and patience and to guide our children to all that He loves.