The Quran is a source of guidance for us all. Due to its divine nature, the reader must make a cognitive attempt to understand a deeper meaning of the verses. The following three points were extracted from the Quran in order to obtain some insights into parenting from Quranic perspective.
Young children, beginning from ages 3 and above, always ask questions. At times, these questions can be very complicated and difficult to answer. Most of the time, the answer is very simple. As a therapist, I have always asked parents to not give out the answer right away. By giving our children the answers right away, we as parents are making four mistakes:
In the Quran, this example is found in the beginning of Surah Yusuf (Chapter 12).
“[mention] when Joseph said to his father, “O my father, indeed I have seen [in a dream] eleven stars and the sun and the moon; I saw them prostrating to me. He said, “O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you a plan. Indeed Satan, to man, is a manifest enemy. And thus will your Lord choose you and teach you the interpretation of narratives and complete His favor upon you and upon the family of Jacob, as He completed it upon your fathers before, Abraham and Isaac. Indeed, your Lord is Knowing and Wise.” (12:4-6)
One point that can be taken out of these verses is that, Yusuf (A)’s father, Yaqub (A), was fully aware of the interpretation of his son’s dream. This is evident because he warns his son to not tell his brothers. He understood that this dream meant that, one day, Yusuf (A)’s brothers will submit themselves to him. However, he did not relate that to Yusuf (A). He instead reminded him that he will one day understand the meaning of the dream. Had Yaqub (A) interpreted his son’s dream in front of him, it may have caused some negative outcomes. It may have given his son a sense of pride and preference over his brothers. This is obviously not a good parenting practice. In fact, his father includes his other sons by mentioning the “favor” of God upon his “family.” In a way, he does not let his son know that he is more exceptional than his brothers.
It has been observed many times that parents tend to force their decisions onto their children instead of including them in the process. This causes children to feel distressed and may cause them to not agree with the decision just to rebel against being forced into it. By including the children, we empower them and further help their development.
In the Quran, an example of this is found when Ibrahim (A) has a dream about sacrificing his son Ismail (A). The conversation is mentioned in Surah As-Saaffaat (Chapter 37):
“And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.” (37:102)
Note how Ibrahim (A) asks his own son “So see what you think.” Given the history of Ibrahim (A), he is the prophet of God who had made many sacrifices in his life. Giving up his son was something he was ready to do. However, by including Ismail (A) in the process, he was giving his son the power to make this decision and also give him the credit of the one who is submitting himself to the sacrifice. In most cases, when children are empowered (in a good way), they end up making good decisions. Ismail did the same and said “do as you are commanded.”
Parents are often under the impression that, because of our status, we can do whatever we want and whenever we want. By doing so, we often violate our children’s privacies and boundaries. It further causes our relationship to deteriorate and our conversations to not have a meaningful impact on our children. Giving advice is one of these issues. Let’s say that we caught our son being awake late at night. Parents will often yell or put down the child for doing this and then immediately talk about the importance of waking up for Fajr prayer in the morning. Research has indicated that this advice will have no effect on the child.
The Quran presents this in Surah Luqman. In this chapter, Luqman (A) is giving many advices to his son. The point of most importance is mentioned in the following verse:
“And [mention, O Muhammad], when Luqman said to his son while he was instructing him, “O my son, do not associate [anything] with Allah . Indeed, association [with him] is great injustice.” (31:13)
Note that Luqman (A) did not just present his son with these advices out of nowhere. Instead, he was already engaged in a meaningful conversation with him when he decided to include his advices. This is a great parenting practice. If we want to give our children an advice, first build rapport. This means empathizing with them, coming down to their level, and listening to their concerns. Also, if we notice our children becoming defensive through their body language or words, it’s probably not the best time to give them an advice. Once we have their full attention and both the parent and the child are attuned, then give them a brief advice. Also not how Luqman (A) begins the advice with “O my son” to emphasize his love and relationship with his son.
These are few examples of parenting found in the Quran. Parenting is a challenging task and our responsibility. But it can be accomplished with some effort. May Allah (S) help us fulfill our duties in the best possible manner. Ameen.