Love Comes First:

Ways to Show Your Children That You Love Them, Part Two

In a previous article, we established that building a loving relationship between you and your child is a key element in raising a moral child. A simple reason for this is that once your child feels loved consistently, they will love you back and find it easier to follow your guidance and directions. After accomplishing the task of making your child feel loved, the next step is to support your child to feel more self-confident through acts of kindness keeping in mind that many children misbehave due to their low self-esteem. Therefore, ignoring our role in boosting our child’s self-esteem could contribute to poor behavior. Let us review some practical ways to positively interact with children as displayed by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (S).

1-      Show Respect for Your Children

Children learn by imitation; therefore, when you demonstrate your respect for them, the result will be ‘mutual respect’ which is a foundation of moral discipline, or Tarbiyah. Avoid making fun of how they talk, walk, look or think. Do not justify your negative remarks by thinking that you are just being funny. They take your remarks seriously. So, respect their feelings. Here are some ways of showing respect to your child:

A)    Welcome your children when they come home. That tells them that they are important to you. Ibn Hibban reported that Aisheh (R) stated, “I have not seen anyone who resembled the Prophet (S) in talking and walking more than Fatimah. Whenever she came to him, he would stand up to receive her, kiss her, welcome her, holds her hands and help her sit with him. Whenever he [the Prophet (S)] came to her, she would stand up to receive him, kiss him and holds his hands.” This is how the Prophet (S) showed respect for his daughter publically, and this is how his daughter exchanged signs of respect with him. Make it a habit to kiss your children before leaving to school and to welcome them when they are back. It is unfortunate, indeed, when a child comes home from school only to hear noisy discussions and spousal conflicts instead of a loving hug and a bright smile. 

B)     Ask for their permission! Another way you can show respect for your children is to ask for their permission if you want to use something they own. Yes, you may have purchased it for them; yet, they believe it is theirs now. When you ask for permission, you make them believe more in themselves and they appreciate your gentleness and emulate it in the future.

C)    Avoid name-calling and address your children in a nice way. The Prophet (S) used to use the Kunyah (calling a person by saying Abu … or Umm …) to show respect for them. The point is not about Abu or Umm; it is more about respecting their feelings and addressing your children in the best way they perceive.

2-      Spend Quality Time with Your Children

“Quality Time” is the time when you can provide your child undivided attention. For instance, taking your child to his or her favorite restaurant and spending a one-on-one conversation with him or her. In this way, your children will realize that they are special, and that they are part of your life. When a child develops this understanding, then he or she becomes ready to listen to your guidance.

Interestingly, early scholars of Hadith recorded many instances when the Prophet (S) was riding a donkey and having a special conversation with a child who was riding behind him. For example, Al-Tirmithi reported that Ibn Abbas (R) said, “One day, I was riding behind the Prophet (S), and he said to me ,‘Young man, I will teach you some words: Maintain Allah’s commands, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him at your side. If you are to ask someone, ask Allah. If you need help, seek Allah’s help. Know that if the whole world gathered to help you, they would not be able to offer you but what Allah had written for you. And if the world gathered to harm you, they would not be able to harm you unless Allah had written it for you…’” The great scholar Yahya ibn Mandah (d. 511 AH) wrote a book on the names of people who rode behind the Prophet (S) and entitled it Ma’rifat asami ardaf al-Nabi where he was able to list thirty three of the Prophet (S)’s companions.

3-      Show Interest in What They Like Most

This is one of the most significant ways to demonstrate closeness to your children. If your child is having a game at school or a competition, make sure that you are there watching and supporting him or her. If your child likes reading stories, buy him a good one. If your child likes a specific restaurant, take your family there. If your child likes a football player or a basketball player, try to get some information about him and discuss with your child!

You might object to this notion stating, ‘My goal is to teach my child about the Sahabah, not sport players!’ I do understand the nobility of our religious and moral goals. In fact, this advice will help you achieve these goals. When you show interest in what your child likes, he or she will show interest in what you like. Moreover, your child will feel that you are close to him and his world, and thereby your communications will get better.

4-      Ask Them for Help!

One way of building your children’s self-worth is to seek their opinion or help—especially in matters that relate to you. The mere fact that you are consulting them helps them gain confidence in their own judgment. Moreover, they will appreciate that parental authority does not mean overwhelming control—something children usually rebel against. It is also a good opportunity for you to identify and recognize talents and skills your children possess.

Imam al-Bukhari reported that Ibn Abbas (R) [who was a young child at that time] said, “Umar used to let me attend a meeting he had with the seniors of the Sahabah. However, it seemed that one of them objected, ‘Why do you allow Ibn Abbas alone? We have children like him!’” Ibn Abbas said, “Umar called me one day to the meeting, and I realized that he wanted to prove a point. Then, Umar asked everybody, ‘How do you understand Surat al-Nasr (Quran: 110)?’, “When the victory of Allah and the Fath [of Makkah] come, and you see people embracing the religion of Allah in great numbers, then celebrate the praise of your Lord and seek His forgiveness; indeed, He frequently accepts repentance.” Some of the Sahabah paraphrased this short chapter, and others remained silent. Then, Umar turned to me and said, ‘Is this how Ibn Abbas understands this Surah?’ I answered in the negative. Thus, Umar asked, ‘What do you say about it?’ I answered, ‘The Surah is foretelling the death of the Prophet (S).’ Upon this, Umar added, ‘By Allah, I know nothing about it but what you said.’”

What Ibn Abbas did in interpreting the text, under discussion, is a typical example of critical thinking. He was reading the message underlying the text. To him, since the Surah, which was revealed late in Madinah, described the final accomplishments of the duties and tasks of the Prophet (S) like the vast conversions into and the victory of Islam, then the Prophet (S) was about to meet his Lord (SWT). May Allah (SWT) grant us guidance and wisdom and protect our children, Ameen.