2nd February 2006, 09:58
FIVE STEPS TOWARDS BEING A BETTER DAD
FIVE STEPS TOWARDS BEING A BETTER DAD
By Suhaib Webb
The role of the father in the life of his child is paramount. The Qur’an likeness this relationship to that of the Sun. Allah says, “I saw in my dream 11 stars and the Sun and the Moon prostrating towards me.” It is well known that the 11 stars represented the brothers of Yusuf (as). However, according to Al-Tabari, the Sun represents the father.
Fatherhood is a great honor representing ones ability to pass on the Prophetic legacy to his offspring. However, in many communities fathers are AWOL? Young boys and girls are left alone replacing the important guidance and teachings that a father provides with DVD’s, video games, DSL and television. Here are 5 important steps that, inshallah, will help us actualize fatherhood, lead our families and fulfill the command of Allah, “Oh you who believe, protect yourself and your families from the fire of Hell.”
1. Passionately love your wife
The Prophet (sa) said about Aiesha, “I love this woman.” When asked, “Who is the most beloved person to you?” The Prophet (sa) responded, “Aiesha (ra).” The Prophet (sa) said, “If you love someone for the sake of Allah, then you should tell them.” The Prophet (sa) once said to Mu’ath, “I swear by Allah that I love you.” The Prophet (sa) informed us that Allah (swt) will say on the last day, “Where are those who’ve loved each other for my sake?”
Loving one’s wife is extremely important. Once a sister (may Allah bless her and her family) told me, “If I could choose any man in the world to marry he must be like my father.” Once a small girl started yelling at her younger sibling and suddenly her mother asked, “Why do you talk to him like that?” she responded, “Because this is how you and baba talk with each other.”
As men we set an important precedent in the home. By loving our wives and treating them with compassion and mercy, inshallah, those qualities will fall into the hearts of our children. It is well known that children of abusers have a great potential to abuse. The child is a reflection of the parental shadow. Mercy towards women and represents a baton passed from father to son.
A) Make sure before you leave the house to tell your wife you care for her
B ) Continue to buy gifts for her even after the honey-moon is over
C) Give her your time and organize, at least, a night a week to take her out alone and show her that you care.
D) Talk to your wife with care and love. Avoid using harsh words and tones.
2. Be a man of integrity–or your words will fall on deaf ears
It is said that a man’s worth is found in his words. The Prophet (sa) was asked if a Muslim could be miserly and he said. “Yes.” He was asked if a Muslim could be a liar and he said “No.” Allah commands us, “Oh you who believe why do you say what you don’t do? The most disliked thing to Allah is that you say what you don’t do.” Allah says, “Do you order others to do well and forget to practice yourself.”
Fathers, do you keep your appointments and promises with your children? Do you exercise as much effort to be with them as, say, with your friends or business appointments? Once a parent was asked to introduce himself to his son’s classmates, After listing his accomplishment the son said, “You know, those things are nice, but they don’t mean anything to me. What means the most to me is that my dad is in private what you see in public.”
This really applies to the people involved in Islamic Work and the Masjid. Are we the same behind close doors as we are in public? What type of image is developing in-front of our children? It is important to have one face as best we can. Nothing shatters the heart of a child then parental inconsistencies. Let us keep our promises and stick to a positive behavior pattern at all time. The Prophet (sa) said, “Fear Allah where ever you are.” He didn’t say, “In the Masjid.” Nor did he say, “In front of the brothers.” But he (sa) said, “Wherever you are.”
3. Your children’s importance to you can be measured by how much time you spend with them
Once a father told me of all the things that he had showered on his son, the son, no doubt, received a large amount of gifts and gadgets from his father. However, when I asked this young man what he wanted most from his father he said, “I just want him to spend time with me.” Make a schedule and spend at least an hour a day with your kids. Believe me, Inshallah; it will make all difference in the world. A lot of important things can be discussed while throwing a foot-ball, playing hoops, board games, or taking a short walk or trip to the park. While you’re with your kids turn off your hand-phone and lose yourself in their world. Could you imagine if Luqman suddenly told his son, “Wait that’s an important phone call?” Or Ibrahim telling Ismael, as they were building the K’aba, “Just one minute I have an fax coming in”? Keep notes of your conversations and listen attentively. Offer feedback, sincere advice to them and surprise them at times with pats on the back, hugs and small notes of appreciation.
A) Find out what your child likes to do and do it with them.
B ) Schedule a time to spend with them and break your back to keep it
C) Surprise them by taken them out to lunch from school
4. You, more than anyone else, can give your children lifelong self-worth
As a son I remember many great things that my mother told me. However, it was always the praise of my father and his advice the truly struck a cord in my heart. We, as men, can make or break our children. It is important to avoid harsh words and over inflated perceptions of our children. Instead, let’s advice them, praise them and nurture their growth. Allah (swt) describes the childhood of Mariyam (as) as, “And she sprouted and excellent sprouting.” My heart loves this expression as it causes you to look at your child as a seed. Seeds need nurturing and, at times, might develope abnormally. Thus, the tiller looks after the seed with velvet gloves on a daily basis offering love and warmth until it grows. Allah said about the companions, “Their likeness in the Injeel is like a seed that sprouts weak stem.”
LET’S ENTER THE MADRASSAH OF Al-FAROUQ (RA)
Once Umar was walking with his son Abdullah and Abdullah informed his father that he knew an answer to one of the questions the Prophet (sa) put forward to them. Upon hearing his son’s answer Umar turned to him and said, “If you had said it, it would have been sweeter to me than anything in this world.” Ya Rab! This is Umar! This is the Umar that we see has being strong and forceful. But, here we see Umar the builder of a man. When our children succeed, or even fail, to succeed let us use caution in our dealings with them. The Prophet (sa) said, “Give good news.” And he said, “Make things easy and don’t make things difficult.” Anas (ra) said, “The Prophet (sa) never yelled at me.” Our children build their worth from our words and actions. Avoid being negative and saying, “You always do things wrong.” Such words are like bricks that lay the foundation of our future men and women. It is important to give them support and love. Allah (swt) describes noble words as, “A good tree.” Thus, our good words and advices will plant the seeds that will sprot into worthy adults and noble citizens.
A) Lower your standards: Many parents’ goals are ridiculously high. Once a youth told me, “If Abu Bakr (ra) presented himself to my parents; they would want Muhammad (sa).” It is important to set goals for our children, but they should share in them and they should be realistic goals
Parents should avoid having unreasonable standards. A Muslim, in my humble opinion, must always have high standards, must always try to reach for the best, but a parent needs to able to set reasonably high standards for his/her child based on what his child can handle, is talented in…etc. In other words, have standards that can be realistically achieved and achieved well. There is research literature on motivation which indicates that people sometimes set extraordinarily high standards as a compensation for not being able to accomplish certain goals they value. The research also show that when people set unattainably high goals they end up feeling helpless and reaffirming their “inability” to accomplish anything, thus losing the motivation to want to achieve in the first place. This drives a fear of failure that can actually thwart a child’s growth instead of help. This is not ideal for a Muslim child and so setting reasonable standards (rather than lowering them) seems to be the key here.”
B ) Remember that it’s their future: All through my college days I would meet brothers who were forced to be doctors, lawyers, or engineers. When I would ask them, “What do you want to be?” They would respond, “Not this. But, it is what my parents want.” We should allow our children to express and discover their own personalities and offer guidance when needed. An important rule to remember is, “Be and advisor, not a supervisor.”
5. Communicate as a family
It is common to see Muslims complaining about the injustices and human rights violations that exist in many Muslim countries. However, there is no need to call others pharaoh when one is practicing the pharonic model at home. Allah (swt) described the believers as a people of consultation and the Prophet (sa) and the companions placed great importance in shura. In fact, during the nomination of Umar it is said that S’ad bin Abbi Waqqas took the shura of everyone in Medina including the young veiled women. As a father it is easy to push one’s opinions on the household. However, it is not necessarily the most fruitful method. Talking and listening to others will further allow them to feel that you truly respect them and value their thoughts and ideas. In addition, it will increase their self worth and guide them towards the important qualities of listening, sharing and offering input.
A) Set up a weekly shura in one’s home. Keep notes and follow up each week with the issues discussed.
May Allah help us to improve as fathers and touch the lives of those around us.
Your brother and father in the making
I want to dedicate this article to Yahya Shahed. A close friend, great student of knowledge and, inshallah, an even better father. I love you for Allah’s sake.
Source: Sidi Suhaib Webb's Blog