As we continue to spend our time at home with the children in isolation due to the Covid-19, we as parents are beginning to normalize the situation we are in. The struggles of homeschooling, dealing with the different behaviour of our children and on top of that maintaining the home and continuing to work from home brings with it many challenges.
In a session with The Positive Minds and Healthy Living Workshop organised by the Muslim Sports Association, the author Rahima Islam talked about living life in isolation with the kids during the lockdown. Her session was linked in with her book Parenting: A sacred privilege.
Parenting: A sacred privilege. Advice and recommendations on parenting from as Islamic, scientific, psychological, sociological and personal perspective.
The content and concept of this book falls nicely with the current situation many of us find ourselves in today. Being isolated at home with our children without any outside help has opened up a new dimension for us as parents. We have now found ourselves as carers, teachers and role models on a 24 hour rota.
The book is aimed at anyone beginning their parenting journey to those who are more experienced.
The book covers a number of topics, ranging from the time before the birth of a child to pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding to playing, educating and being a good role model to toddlers, children, teenagers and even adult children.
I touch upon disciplining your children according to their age, to treating them fairly and justly and I emphasise the need to spend quality time with our children and instilling the awareness, love, hope and fear of Allah (SWT) in our children.
Parenting is not an easy task, nobody is ever fully prepared for this role and nobody said it would be easy either. Parenting is learnt through trial and error, it’s about learning from others, reading books, seeking guidance and it’s about praying to the Almighty to make the task easy.
We have all suddenly found ourselves in this new situation with roles which were shared by teachers at schools and Ustadhs at Mosque. We have found ourselves taking on all these roles as parents.
Some of us have found ourselves taking on the role of peers, family members and even the role of our spouse, as partners may be key workers and have been away for work.
By now, some of you may have developed a daily routine, waking up at a certain time, homeschooling, playing and doing activities together and others of you may still be struggling to juggle working from home and homeschooling the children.
With those added hours in the day with our children, some of us may see it as a blessing and others may see it as a burden.
We may find ourselves struggling to balance our roles and may simply be putting too much pressure on ourselves or we may neglect our roles completely and appear to be too relaxed. We have to strike a balance and prioritise our children as well as make time for ourselves.
This extra time with the children should be seen as an opportunity to fulfil our role as a parent and we should make the most of it.
Along with the blessings and struggles, we may be faced with the feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. These feelings may be experienced by your children as well as yourselves.
Your children may be missing their friends, they may be worried about their education or they may be feeling disappointed that they will not be sitting those important exams, which they have been working so hard towards. They may feel scared of the consequences of this virus and uncertain about the future.
You may be worried about the future, about your job security, your income status, you may be worried about loved ones who have become sick or those who are vulnerable.
We as parents will inevitably be concerned for our children, we must leave the doors of communication always open. Our children should feel safe and comfortable to be able to tell us how they are feeling.
We as parents cannot show them that this situation is scaring us, we must be strong for them. We must advice them correctly and provide comfort to them.
Before we establish what we can do with our children in lock down, we must establish the rights of our children.
Even before a child is born, he/she has many rights. A child has the right to be born from a halal legitimate relationship, where the mother and father have entered a marriage contract.
A child must be conceived by healthy parents, both the mother and father must be fit and healthy. It is therefore the right of a child that the parents must care for themselves before they begin to plan to have a child. They must eat well, take physical exercise and take supplements for their well being.
A child has the right to grow in a healthy mother during pregnancy. Therefore during pregnancy, a mother must remain physically, mentally and emotionally strong. The father must provide for the pregnant mother, by providing for her both materialistically and morally.
A child has the right to be fed, clothed, loved, nurtured and protected. These roles should be shared according to the status of a man and woman in Islam. The man’s role being the provider of his family and the woman’s role being the carer of her home. However, there is no harm in sharing these roles if it works for your family.
A child has the right to be educated Islamically and academically by both parents and they must provide the means for that child to continue his/her study outside the home. This role is shared by teachers at schools and ustadhs at Mosques.
But the greatest right a child has is the right to be given a good, correct Islamic upbringing and this is the role of both parents within the home.
Being in today’s situation of isolation at home, has given us as parents the opportunity to maximise our time in fulfilling our role, in giving our children the best Islamic upbringing.
At home, we can create an Islamic environment for our children to flourish. A home must also create a safe haven for our children, a place where they feel at peace and are in harmony.
The responsibility of parents is a huge obligation placed on us . We must take this role very seriously. It is our responsibility as parents to give our children a good, correct Islamic upbringing and create an environment for our children, where they will flourish as obedient servants of Allah (SWT).
It is our responsibility as parents to teach them right from wrong, to assist them in being productive in society, this is not the responsibility of teachers.
As with anything we do, we must have the correct intentions, for all our actions are only judged by our intentions.
No doubt, children are an enormous blessing from Allah (SWT) as well as a trust from the Almighty. With every blessing and trust, there comes responsibilities. We must therefore fulfil our duties to the best of our abilities.
We must aim to be the very best parents possible for the sake of Allah (SWT). So our main intentions should be to raise righteous children who please Allah (SWT). Our children are our legacy, lets aim to leave behind a good legacy. They are our investment for the Hereafter.
We should love, nurture, protect, feed, clothe, educate and bring up our children in the correct Islamic manner for the sake of Allah (SWT). By fulfilling our responsibility correctly, we are fulfilling an obligation laid out by Allah (SWT). Raising children correctly is an act of worship.
We must prioritise our time and our lifestyle to be the best parents possible. We must remember that we will be rewarded for everything we do with our children and everything we provide for them and we may very well be punished for neglecting our role.
To do all that, we must have the correct tools. We can continuously learn about Islam or other fields, we can train in new areas or learn a new skill. Maybe we can learn to recite the Quran with tajweed, recite along side the tafseer, read stories of the Prophets or the seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). We could learn hadith or other fields is Islam. Maybe learn a new language or carry out continuous personal development courses. We could learn to sew, bake, cook, paint or even learn martial arts. There is no limit to learning and all these can be learnt online in the comfort of your home and during isolation.
This is your opportunity to gain tools and teach your children. Show your children that learning should be a life long process, nobody ever has all the knowledge. Teach them there is no shame in learning at our age.
You can obtain tools to help your children by making time to read books, learn online, attend online seminars, whatever you enjoy. Try not to waste this time in isolation scrolling through social media, watching movies on Netflix or browsing online on irrelevant things.
When it comes to instilling the awareness of Allah (SWT) in our children, we must be mindful of their age. For example, we must start off by teaching young children about the love of Allah (SWT) before the fear. We don’t want them to think that Allah (SWT) is not merciful and we don’t want them to have a negative perception of Allah (SWT).
We don’t want to be too relaxed about teaching our children about Allah (SWT) and we shouldn’t be too strict and pressurizing either.
With babies and toddlers, we should aim to recite Qur’an in their presence, pray salah in their presence and praise Allah (SWT) aloud. We should use the name of Allah (SWT) in everything we do in order for them to become familiar with the term. We should begin to praise Allah’s love and mercy to them. We should play games with them that are islamically related.
As infants grow to be children, recite Qur’an together, pray salah together, teach them how to do that, be their first teacher in teaching them these beneficial forms of worship which will continuously benefit you when your children engage in worship.
Invest in Islamic books and read them together, play Islamic games together, create an Islamic environment, where they are seeing worship taking place at home. Learn dua’s together, take them along to Islamic talks and events and visit Muslim family and friends.
You can start introducing them to the idea of Allah’s anger and his punishment, but always reinforce His Mercy and love too.
As children reach teenage years, continue to recite Qur’an together, encourage them to recite alone. Remind them of salah times and continue to pray together. Encourage them to attend Islamic circles and events that are of interest to them and that which are relatable.
Get them to participate in teaching younger siblings and get them to participate in charity work. Lay the foundations for them to become more independent in the cause of Allah (SWT).
Keep a tab on the friends they hang out with and encourage them to make Muslim friends or friends who have similar values and good morals.
Emphasis the fear of Allah (SWT), but again continue to remind them of his Mercy and love.
If they do make mistakes, remind them that Allah (SWT) is Merciful and forgives, but if they continue to take part in wrong, then Allah’s wrath is also great.
Teenage years are probably the most challenging years for parents, but if you are able to establish a good Islamic environment in your home, this stage should go smoothly.
For example if salah is given its due value, then children will avoid missing it. If girls are encouraged to observe the hijab before puberty, it shouldn’t be seen as something alien.
Encourage both boys and girls to dress modestly, act with dignity and respect with those around them at an early age. So all these characters will be instilled in them before they reach that difficult age.
As with adult children, it is still important to encourage them and remind them of their duty to Allah (SWT). By now, they may have established their own mindset and hopefully it should be enough for them to continue to worship Allah (SWT) in the correct way. We as parents should still remain good role models to them.
Parenting takes place through trial and error and what might work for me, might not work for you. It is a process where you learn on the go.
Each child is different, each family is different, everyone’s method of parenting is different. We all have different strengths and weaknesses as parents and our capabilities are different. But we all want our children to be righteous and we all have the Qur’an and sunnah as guidance.
Grab this moment to build strong Muslim children who will please Allah (SWT) and be our Sadaqatul Jariyah and path to Jannah.
It is extremely important to be good role models to our children. To be good role models and establish a good Islamic upbringing in our homes, we should offer salah on time, recite Qur’an regularly, do voluntary salah, voluntary fasts and give in charity.
We should treat out families, friends, neighbors and the elderly with kindness and generosity. We should keep good ties with our family members. You will be surprised how much your child will observe and imitate you.
Spend quality time together as a family, put away your phones and gadgets occasionally. Pray together, eat together, play games together, cook together and keep the doors of communication open for each other.
As parents we should be in the comapny of good friends who are good role models, so we can encourage our children to do the same.
We should emphaise and establish that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is our true role model when it comes to pleasing Allah (SWT) and we should encourage this in our children too.
We are our children’s first teacher and currently we are now their sole teacher, their only teacher.
Many of you may have experience in homeschooling your children, some of you may have some experience, but some may be very new to this and may find yourself learning on the job or re-learning things that you did many years ago.
Younger children will need more routine, more help, more attention and more encouragement. Older children may be more independent, but may need constant reminders and nagging. Sometimes its difficult to help older children if you yourself are not a specialist in the field, but we are fortunate to be able to utilise resources on-line.
We are not expected to know everything, our children don’t expect us to know everything either and so we should rely on on-line resources, our on-line family members and our on-line teachers for assistance.
We can use our knowledge, expertise and experiences to teach our children in wider fields, this lock down is a great opportunity to teach your children skills you are good at such as cooking, sewing, computing, gardening, construction work and D.I.Y projects.
We should aim to establish some sort of routine for all our children, regardless of what age they are. Try to monitor when they sleep and what time they wake up. Make sure they are completing tasks set by school and Mosques. Every school should have established a programme for your child by now. Don’t believe them if they say they have not received anything from their school, follow up on it, contact your child’s school or teacher.
Don’t let your teenage children sleep all day or spend large amounts of time in front of their phone. Get them to help you around the house and get them to do some sort of physical exercise.
It is not possible to create a school setting at home, but keep a balance and a routine. Help your children as much as you can, but don’t be too harsh on them or yourself. Do as much as you can and seek help if needed. On the other hand, don’t get too lazy and leave your children to their own devices.
Take turns as husband and wife to help the children as much as you can. Prepare them for the outside world, maintain their mental health, improve their grades and skills and open up opportunities for them.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said; “No father can give his child a better gift than good manners, good characters and good education” (Tirmidhi)
At a time when we are spending so much time with our children, we will inevitably at some point get up each others nerves. With the added stress of uncertainty, the pressure increases.
Depending on the age of your children, you will be facing different behavioral difficulties. Some of you may have angel children, in which case you have truly been blessed and you can relax, but generally, being isolated with the children on a 24 hour rota is going to be challenging.
Younger kids will play up, they may get frustrated easily, have tantrums, get bored quickly or fight with their siblings and be disobedient. Teenagers may give you attitude, may answer back, have mood swings, become disobedient and argumentative. They may get annoyed at you for no obvious reason. Adult children may become too laid back, may become lazy and unproductive.
Whatever the situation is, try to find a balance, be firm, but not too harsh. Encourage, remind and discipline according to their age. Try not to nag and never use physical punishment.
When disciplining, use the correct tone of voice, the correct body language and the correct words. Always remember to be fair and just. Do not show favoritism or compare them to their siblings or other people’s children. Don’t label them or use bad nicknames. Try to stay in control and don’t get angry, shout, use foul language or behave in a way you may regret later.
Always listen to them, show them affection, befriend them and praise them when needed. Have patience with them and be merciful, compassionate and kind towards them. it’s not going to be easy, but always remember Allah (SWT) is watching you and judging you according to the way you behave.
Always make some time for yourself, get your spouse to take over and take some time out for yourself. The trick is to work together, not against each other. When it gets too much for you, step back and have some time out.
Within your routine of working from home, house chores and assisting the kids, always keep some time for yourself to do something you enjoy. Whether it is reading a book, writing, talking to friends and family on the phone, or sewing, gardening, or craft work. Anything that gives you time to yourself.
One luxury we have at times of isolation are our social media accounts, but social media can also become our worst enemy at this time, consuming much of our valuable time. Try not to spend too much time on social media, as to neglect your children and home.
Always remain vigilant about what your children are doing on social media. Check if it is suitable for their age, is it appropriate?, is it safe?. Are they wasting too much time on social media? Ask yourself these questions.
Children are easily influenced by peers and people on social media, check what influencers they are following and what they are watching, Advise them and teach them what is right and what is wrong.
This is your chance and your time to learn about the new social media craze and the new trends. Are they safe?, is my child protected?, does my child have privacy?, these are some of the questions, you should constantly ask yourself.
We should apply time limits for social media and this shouldn’t just apply to our children, but it should apply to us as well, as parents. We are all guilty of wasting valuable time on social media. Let’s make this time in isolation, productive, let’s not waste time, let’s reduce screen time and focus on what is important.
Most importantly, dua is a powerful tool which we are given by Allah (SWT) and we should use this tool to pray for our children and for their guidance.
May Allah (SWT) help us all to perform and perfect this great responsibility of parenting and in raising righteous children. Ameen.