Raising Our Future Generations: (Part 3) Shifting Gears
As children approach two years of age we see that they pick up a great deal from their surroundings. It is therefore crucial that their parents are there for them.
Birth to Age Two
As our children develop and grow, we see many changes in them. One of the first things I recall noticing in my kids was their imitation of Mom and Dad. They like to copy what we do. More specifically for me, I recall being in salaah while sitting for tashah-hud; my daughter happened to be next to me and from the side of my eye I noticed her moving the index finger of both hands. Subhaanallaah! I was amazed at how a young child of barely two years picked up on and wanted to imitate even this small detail of the salaah. My son on the other hand imitated me while pretending to talk on the phone; he would pace back and forth with one hand in his pocket and the other on his shoulder (making as though he was carrying a phone). Realizing this should be enough to drive us towards being the best role models for our children.
As children approach two years of age we see that they pick up a great deal from their surroundings. It is therefore crucial that their parents are there for them. It is sad to see in this day and age that so many of our sisters place more importance on “a career” than they do on the family. In reality, the man and woman have very clear roles within an Islaamic household and the day we chose to ignore those roles, we began seeing a change in our children.
The woman has to acknowledge that Allaah has placed in her qualities that render her best suited to provide the child nurturing and tender loving care. In the real world we see that generally speaking, women are much more gentle, loving, patient and able to provide young children their basic needs. Not to say that men are incapable, but women just do this much better (while husbands assist). Thus, the best career a woman can have is in her very own home; raising our future leaders, bread winners, mujaahideen, scholars, mothers and teachers. It’s a career far more demanding than any I am aware of and one that potentially brings eternal rewards and satisfaction. It is the mother who perhaps has the greatest influence on her child in the first years. Therefore, I advise my sisters to strive hard and fulfill this role to the best of their ability.
Mother and father both have to work hand in hand in setting good examples for their children and protecting them from harm from an early age. Besides being on our best behaviour, we now also have to be proactive in practically teaching them right from wrong, manners/etiquettes and steering them away from immorality. Let me give a few simple examples here:
- Say you are in the mall or outside somewhere and you happen to see a homosexual “couple” kissing. Do you just walk past as though nothing happened? Absolutely not! Rather, turn your child’s face away as you too look away and show through your body language, facial expressions and words how disgusted you are by that sight. When the child sees this from you, he’ll grow up knowing this is filthy, unacceptable and deviant behaviour.
- When your child asks you for something, rather than simply giving it to them, first teach them to say please. Then when they get what they requested teach them to say thank you, or better still jazaakallaahu khayran. When we do this repeatedly, our children will begin doing it automatically Inshaa Allaah. This of course is in addition to us practicing what we preach!
- Perhaps you are looking out the window and it’s “Halloween” time and you see a neighbour’s child walking out in a costume. What do you do? Watch that child and talk about what a nice costume he/she is wearing? I certainly hope not. Instead, talk to your child (yes, even at age 2) and tell them how this is bad and evil and from the way of Shaytaan.
Islaamic manners and etiquettes can be taught from a very early age. Before feeding the child, always say bismillah audibly, then alhamdulillaah when they’re done; say alhamdulillaah audibly when you sneeze in front of the child and when they sneeze try to make them say it too; say maashaa Allaah when they do something good, say the du’aa for leaving and reentering the home audibly, say the du’aa for entering the vehicle audibly and so forth. You will be amazed how they pick up bits and pieces of each du’aa from this early age. Parents actually notice how kids learn jingles from certain ads at a very young age. Therefore, if you expose them to these beautiful words, they will pick them up instead of something totally useless.
Kids like to play with other kids and so now you will naturally want to find friends for your children. This is normal and you should do so. However, don’t think that because they’re so young, it does not matter whom they befriend. Rather, from a young age make certain that they have Muslim friends. Indeed, we live amongst non-Muslims and have to interact with them, but that does not mean we take them as close friends. This is from the basic teachings of Islaam.
The Prophet (salllallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) informed us that a person is upon the deen (religion, way) of his close friend, so we should be cautious as to whom we take as close friends. Therefore, look for children from good Muslim homes whom your kids can befriend and spend time with. Whether you like it or not, kids will pick things up from one another (we clearly observe this) and thus you do not want your kids to be with others from whom they will learn bad habits. Too often I see kids behaving badly and using obscene language and it is clear where they picked this up from. As for playing with non-Muslim kids at the park and so forth for a short period of time under your supervision, then Inshaa Allaah that should be fine. However, if you see or hear anything which raises concerns, address it immediately.
As the days go by, the responsibility and challenges become greater. I am well aware that trying to raise good Muslim kids in this society is exceedingly difficult, but we have no choice but to stand up to the challenge. As long as we live here, we have no choice but to deal with the many challenges that may not be present in Muslim lands. Next time, we’ll look at how to continue after age two Inshaa Allaah.