Children are easily influenced by their surroundings. These days, it is extremely difficult to expose our children to an ideal Islamic environment given the influences from media, friends and even other members of the family.
With television, radio, Internet and forms of media mostly touting un-Islamic values, it is up to parents and adults close to the children to set the correct example.
It is impossible to shield our children from all the negative forces that can shape their minds and, ultimately, their behavior.
However, by our own example and showing them better options, we can set them on the true path, which is to obey the commandments of Allah (swt) and our Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him).
Here are some tips you may want to follow in helping your children grow up with Islamic values.
- Start by teaching them the importance of Worshipping only Allah: The best thing any Muslim parent could ever teach their children is to emphasize, from the day they can comprehend, that Allah (the Almighty) is One and no one is worthy of worship except Allah (the Almighty). This is the fundamental message of our Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and it is our key to Paradise.
- Treat them kindly: Kindness begets kindness. If we are kind to our children, they in turn will show kindness to others. Our Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) was the best example in being kind to children.
- Give them examples of Muslim heroes: Instead of Batman or Superman, tell them about real heroes such as Abu Bakr, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn 'Affan, 'Ali bin Abi Talib and others. Tell them how Muslim leaders brought a real peaceful change in the world and won the hearts of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
- Let children sit with adults: It is preferable for children to be among adults, especially when listening to Islamic lectures. The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) would often put children in the front row when he spoke to the people.
- Make them feel important: Consult them in family matters. Let them feel they are important members of the family and have a part to play in the growth and well being of the family.
- Go out as a family: Take family trips rather than allowing your children to always go out only with their friends. Let your children be around family and friends from whom you want them to pick up their values. Always remember that your children will become who they are around with most of the time. So, watch their company and above all give them YOUR company.
- Praise them: Praise is a powerful tool with children, especially in front of others. Children feel a sense of pride when their parents’ praise them and will be keen to perform other good deeds. However, praise must be limited to Islamic deeds and deeds of moral value.
- Avoid humiliation: Similarly, do not humiliate them in front of others. Children make mistakes. Sometimes, these mistakes occur in their efforts to please the parents. If you are unhappy with your children, tell them in private.
- Sports: The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) encouraged sports such as swimming, running and horse riding. Other sports that build character and physical strength are also recommended, as long as the children maintain their Islamic identity, wear appropriate clothes and do not engage in unnecessary mixing.
- Responsibility: Have faith in their abilities to perform tasks. Give them chores to do in line with their age. Convince them that they are performing an important function and you will find them eager to help you out again.
- Don’t spoil them: Children are easily spoiled. If they receive everything they ask for, they will expect you to oblige on every occasion. Be wise in what you buy for them. Avoid extravagance and unnecessary luxuries. Take them to an orphanage or poor area of your city once in a while so they can see how privileged they are.
- Don’t be just friends: It is common in the West for parents to consider their children as friends. In Islaam, it doesn’t work that way. If you have ever heard how friends talk to each other, then you will know that this is not how a parent-child relationship should be. You are the parents, and they should respect you, and this is what you should be teaching them. The friendship part should be limited to you and them keeping an open dialog so they can share their concerns with you and ask you questions when they have any.
- Pray with them: Involve them in acts of worship. When they are young, let them see you in Salaah. Soon, they would be trying to imitate you. Wake them up for Fajr and pray as a family. Talk to them about the rewards of Salaah so that it doesn’t feel like a burden to them.
- Emphasize the permissible: It is not always good to only say, “This is haraam, that is haraam”. While you must educate them on what are haraam things, Islaam is full of halaal; tell your children to thank Allah (the Almighty) for the bounties He has bestowed on them- not just for food and clothes. Tell them to be thankful for having eyes that see, ears that hear, arms and legs and, the ultimate blessing, Islaam in their hearts.
- Set an example: As parents, you are the best example children can have. If you talk to your parents rudely, expect your children to do the same to you. If you are disrespectful to others, your children will follow too. Islaam is filled with Divine advice on the best ways to bring up your children. That makes it an obligation upon parents to be good Muslims so their children will try to emulate them. If you don’t take Islaam seriously, neither will your children. It goes back to our third point, which is to give them Islamic heroes. As a parent, you should be their number one hero.