Many times parents and adults do things intentionally or unintentionally that may set a bad example to their children and other youngsters around. Below would be some such situations and advises on how to set a better example for your youngsters.
"Tell them I'm not here," we yell at our spouse or children as the telephone rings. Although we might not have noticed it, we have just set an example of lying for our children. When they see us lying, they may say to themselves that it's okay to lie. Dad and mom do it.
If we had been more conscious of our role as an example for our children, we could have avoided this mistake by telling our spouse or our children to say that we were unavailable to talk now, not that we were not at home; or by simply taking the call. But we should never lie as Muslims.
Many other "little" things that we do during the day may actually be setting bad examples for our children without us even realizing it. Remaining constantly aware of our role, as being examples for our children to imitate, might help us to avoid making such serious mistakes.
Making False Promises to Children
For example, we should never tell them, "I will take you for ice cream if you are good," when we have no intention of taking them for ice cream. This is also lying, and if we do it, our children may lose confidence in that which we say.
How must it feel like for children to see their mother and father yelling at each other and even hitting each other? What horror must they be feeling at that time? And how will they know what to do afterwards? Can they ever go back to the same loving relationship with their father and mother after watching them abuse each other? If we do make the mistake of arguing or fighting in front of our children and then make up later, we should be sure to include the children and even if need be, apologize to them for our immature and un-Islamic behavior.
Inshaa'Allah, they will respect us even more for admitting that we were wrong.
Making Fun of Others
If we say, "Hey, look at that ugly guy over there! Ha! Ha! Ha!," our children may think that this is acceptable behavior. Afterward, if they publicly say something bad about somebody and we or that person gets embarrassed, we should remember that we are the ones who taught them to behave in such an unacceptable way.
We must not gossip or speak evil about others behind their backs. Even though the victims of our gossip might not hear us, our children will. They are watching us eat the dead flesh of our brothers and sisters, and it could affect them in many ways. They might simply begin to believe that this is normal behavior, or they might be extremely disgusted with their parents for behaving in this way. Either way our children will be negatively influenced.
Bad Radio/ Television Programs
Later, when we tell our children not to watch kissing or violence on T.V., they will see us as hypocrites and lose respect for us if do so ourselves.
As Muslims, we should of course try to be the best human beings we can possibly be. As Muslim parents, we must try even harder because our behavior will very likely have a major impact on the behavior of our children now and how they grow-up to see the world. It's not what mom and dad say; it's what mom and dad do.
Raising kids is an incredible responsibility. If we want to succeed, we must raise them with both words and actions. As human beings, we will at times do wrong and make mistakes. But please try your best and especially, NOT IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN!