Good Parenting: What is it and how do We begin?

Since life is full of pressure and anxiety, children can provide the best medicine to alleviate stress by helping parents escape into their childish world, albeit only for a while.

Some parents feel that playing with children shows a weakness or lack of seriousness about life. The reality is that when you laugh with children, you allow them to feel confident and unafraid of you, tension levels go down, an invisible bond of love is shared, and children feel free to express themselves. To joke and laugh is an essential part of communication.


This follows on from the previous point. The principles outlined above are meant to be applied with compassion and fun. Sometimes, success-obsessed parents are so focused on goals that they let the simple pleasures of family life slip by. Be aware of this. Good parenting is a holistic concept and a compassionate task since the. experience of parenting is as important as the realization of the objectives.

Quality Time and ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT with Children

Parents may often claim that they spend a lot of time WITH their children. Actually, what they mean is not WITH but in proximity of their children. That is, they may be in the same room as their child but watching TV, reading, on the phone, reviewing emails, or conversing with other guests. What is needed is ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT with children. This implies reading together, playing sports and games together, solving puzzles together, cooking and eating together, discussing things together, joking together, shopping together, building blocks together, and washing dishes together. In other words, not simply being in a child’s company whilst simultaneously leaving the child alone but being an active participant and partner in activities with the child.

This is good quality time with enough quantity time spent through ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT.

No babysitting, nor delegation can replace interaction with parents, both of them!

Utilizing Sources of Information on Parenting

One of the ways in which to begin good parenting would be to consult sources of expert advice and tips.

Muslim Sources vs. Western Sources

Parenting literature is widely available in North America (Table 1.1). For Western parents much information is available on good parenting; and there are many books, libraries, and websites providing resources and information to help make parenting more rewarding and effective.

In contrast, when would-be Muslim parents seek advice on parenting from Muslim sources, what is available to them? Al-Tall and al-Qaysi (in Arabic 1990) emphasize the scarcity of high-quality Muslim literature on parenthood.

Few books provide practical details on how to instill acceptable values and character in children. Parents face difficulties in utilizing the classical books on parenting. The old ones deal with different times and challenges, and they lack clear classification, indexing, and referencing. Parenting information for Muslims is scattered over a vast variety of writings including: literature on jurisprudence, Qur’anic commentaries (tafslr) , historical works, Sufi poetry, and books of exhortation.

Dr. al-Za’balawi (in his book in Arabic on teen upbringing) states that there is little Islamic literature on child rearing, and very few specialized writings on adolescence. The Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada (MSA) published the first Islamic coloring book for children in 1973.

Such books were not available then, and parents who settled in the West felt the scarcity of literature for children.

Dr. Manazir Ahsan, Director of the Islamic Foundation in Leicester, England, mentions that although Muslim communities in the West have been able to establish a good number of institutions, mosques, and schools, they have not been able “to produce adequate literature in English to cater to the teaching requirements of their younger generation, both at home and at school” (D’Oyen 1996).

The literature produced is far too small and much more is needed. The Islamic library today is deficient in books on child rearing and parenting. Most of the literature addresses adult education, and little is written about child development and adolescent psychology.

Vast amounts of literature have been written by jurists on formal aspects of marriage contracts; the rights and duties of husbands, wives, and children; the technicalities of divorce, and the calculation of inheritance.

There is a need for more Islamic books that focus on the family and the relationships among siblings, particularly the social, psychological, and developmental aspects. When parents look for advice on family issues, most of the books they encounter concentrate on formalistic and legalistic (jiqhl) issues.

Furthermore, Muslim history books taught in high schools in the Arab world tend to ignore human interaction and personal development, and focus mostly on political issues and regulating peace and war among nations.

Chapter One: Good Parenting: What is it and How do We Begin?

Little space is devoted to the human love, affection, and respect shown by the Prophet Muhammad.$ toward children, his kindness in dealing with them, his respect for them, and his willingness to join in their games. The Prophet did not have the opportunity to raise his own sons because they died in infancy, yet he raised his daughters (Fatimah, Zaynab, Ruqayyah, and Umm Kulthum) and contributed to the raising of his grandchildren, and the children of his relatives and the community. He also raised his young cousin ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib and his adopted son Zayd ibn Harithah. It is amazing how the Prophet paid so much attention to children and showed them care, kindness, and respect while at the same time being totally occupied with establishing a new society and a new state, which was under constant threat of being annihilated by its enemies.

Little attention has been paid by men to child rearing because, for the most part, it has been done by women. Exploration and elaboration of the actions of Muslim women, known in Islamic literature as the Mothers of the Believers, is not undertaken enough.

Indeed, much of it has been lost or devalued. We need to encourage scholars to investigate and develop literature on how the Prophet’s wives and the female Companions raised children. This will help introduce an important dimension to the role of women in social development and expand the Islamic library in women’s studies. Furthermore, this literature should include a study of the actions of women who have successfully raised potential leaders, both male and female, in recent times. Unless we do this, the guidance that “Paradise lies at the feet of the mother” will be nothing more than a pious platitude.

The emphasis to date has been on abstract values and objectives, rather than on practical ways and means to develop character and values in children. Not enough attention is paid to the understanding and analysis of development and growth, making it hard for parents to apply parenting principles in their daily lives. Practical techniques, relevant skills, and real-life examples are needed. One distraction has been the centuries’ long colonization of

Muslim countries, during which time the top priority was given to the liberation of the land, while tarbiyah (education and training) was ignored. Social change, good management, and development were at the bottom of the agenda. Writing about parenthood was not a priority and no serious research was undertaken into the subject for a long time.

Muslim reformers like Ibn Sahnun, Ibn al-Iazzar, and ‘All al-Qabsy, all in Qayrawan, Tunis, placed more emphasis on breastfeeding, and how to control, discipline and punish children in the classroom as well as compensation for teachers. Not enough attention was devoted to child psychology, child development, education, and parenthood. This may partly explain why the great reformist movements could not revive Muslim civilization in spite of the genius and sincere efforts of their leaders. To be able to establish a thriving society, we need to have an excellent knowledge of child rearing and character building. We also need sound education, strong faith, and proper skills. It is interesting to note how the’ Qur’an describes the prophets as role models to emulate. Leadership qualities can be developed early if we have a deeper understanding of the art and science of parenting.

In 2002, Professor Mumtaz Anwar of Kuwait University was commissioned to research available literature on parenting for Muslims. He found a lack of good parenting books for Muslims, and also that there are very low literacy rates in many parts of the Muslim world, especially among women. Most Muslim parents depend on personal observation and experience in raising children, which is not en ought for successful child rearing. Even for educated Muslim parents, there is a lack of high -quality literatur on good parenting and no real formal training available. Although it is difficult to gauge how much literature on parenting is available in all the languages of the Muslim world, we assert that it is not enough. Clearly, an urgent need exists to produce high-quality literature on parenting, based on character building e values, and righteousness, which also deal: with the relevant problems of communities today including problems at a local level.


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