What are Practical Methods for Raising Upright Children?
By: Abdul Adheem al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani
Question: How should we educate our child and feed him with religious teachings, moral values, social principles, and historical lessons? Could you suggest a practical and successful method?
The answer: There are still fathers and mothers like those of the past who at bedtime tell their children nice stories with useful meanings and in a wonderful manner of telling. Many of those meaningful stories have educated children with sound concepts, and when they became old, they still remembered them and took sufficient lessons from them.
In our present age, we should not ignore the sincere efforts of those who spread modern Islamic information through audio and video cassettes, CDs, magazines, and books. May Allah reward them with the best of good.
It is wrong to think that a child does not understand or comprehend what we mean or that he does not benefit from our stories. The Islamic experts, based on the traditions of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and different experiments, have discovered that a child is able to comprehend the meanings of others’ words from the fourth month in his mother’s womb. Therefore, traditions recommend mothers to recite the Holy Qur'an during the period of pregnancy and after giving birth even if it is through audio cassettes because a child responds and reacts to the Qur’anic inspirations, which have an influence on his mentality, morals and behaviors when he grows up. Similarly, the azan and iqama are recited in the two ears of a newborn child.
Thus, a meaningful story with good moral and social contents leaves a constructive effect on the personality of a child in the present and future.
From among the necessities of education at this stage is buying some books for the child that fit his intellectual level, and it does not matter if he tears them, because after tearing the tenth book, for example, he will make friends with the eleventh book. He will keep it safe and read it. Here you can win his friendship with books throughout his life, and the loss of tearing ten books in comparison with this winning is not so important.
Parents can read to their child from the storybooks of children, and they will thus kill two birds with one stone, because the child will like books and benefit from the contents of the stories at the same time. I suggest that you hang this statement on the most noticeable wall in the house: “a good book should be read several times, discussed several times, and relied on throughout one’s life.”
What is the best way to raise children and teenagers: closely watching and managing their affairs, or trusting them and giving them freedom?
Question: I am often confused as to how to deal with my children. In this age, in which corruption has spread everywhere, I do not know which way I should follow in educating them, especially those among them who are teenagers. I am very careful for them and precise in watching them because I am afraid that they may do some things secretly that may displease the Lord. Their father is opposite to me and this causes disagreements and disputes between us many times. He says that my way will lead them to deviation while I think that his way in not watching them will be responsible for their deviation if one day it happens-Allah forbid! What do you think, Your Eminence?
The answer: Moderation in everything is the aspect of the umma that Islam wants us to adopt. We are people of a religion that permits neither waste nor excess. It announces clearly that (And thus We have made you a medium (just) nation that you may be the bearers of witness to the people and (that) the Messenger may be a bearer of witness to you).
Dear sister, if you are excessive in the educating of your children, please read carefully what I quote here from a letter written by a twenty year old young man to his mother complaining of his state to her for she has been excessive in watching him. He says: ‘I like to choose my concerns by myself. I like if you would permit me to try life. I like to travel by myself. I like to…
But you always say to me: if an accident happens to you, then what? If some misfortune afflicts you, then what? If…
You still want to catch my hand and take me with you wherever you like. My opinion and thought have no value in your judgment.
You say to me: What if you fall into an accident? Or you are involved in a trap? Or you commit a sin? Or you become corrupted…?
O mother, everyday you repeat these words many times instead of guiding me with what I should do in order to not fall into an accident or become involved in a trap or commit a sin or slip into corruption!!
O mother, now I am twenty years old, but I have no will. Do you know why?
It is because of your excessive fears; you have killed confidence inside me. You have prevented me from learning self-confidence in taking decisions because you always made decisions for me. Perhaps, you wished to sit beside me on the chair in my classroom fearing that I might make mistakes in my school lessons!
O mother, today I am unsuccessful in my social relations. Between myself and those of the same age, there is a big difference in mentality. They say to me: O weak, fearful, pampered, coward…
Yes, I really am so. I fear all. I trust in no one. I have no hope for the future. Today, I am unable to even choose my university specialization or my future job.
O mother, I like to do many things, but your “NO” makes me give up everything. With this “NO” you have closed my way. I think if you could breathe for me, you would…!’
Dear sister, with the aforementioned lines, I do not want to say that you are mistaken in watching your children, but I want to say that too many warnings that exceed reasonable limits will have the exact opposite effect from what you want.
By the way, it is said that one day a father saw his son on the front edge of the house’s roof and ordered him to go back lest he should fall down. The son went back a few steps, but the father, out of his fear for his son, ordered him to go back further and the son went back a few more steps. The father was still worried and ordered his son to go back even more until the son fell down from the other side. The father hit his head crying: O my son!
It is necessary for parents to know that each age has its own particular moralities that should be acknowledged within the general topic of morals in Islam. Let us not complicate our children and then cause them to appear abnormal among people! At the same time, we should not let them be so free to do whatever they like as if they have no religion and forsake the best of the heavenly religions.
You would be better off in allowing your children to advance in their lives, but with teaching them virtues and warning them of vices and their ends.
When you detect some deviation in them, you must suppress your anger and be calm and give them advice in a wise way. You should know that Allah has opened the door of repentance to His people, especially to the youth, and He knows they are weak. Hence, you should not suspect them and not be severe to them because this will take them away from religion and make them resist and go astray.
Besides all this, you should discuss the matter with your husband if he is lacking in his relation to the children. You should sit together and formulate wise methods of dealing with your children because they represent you before others and will replace you after your death. See how you want others to regard you!
 Holy Qur’an, 2:143.