BY DR HARLINA HALIZA SIRAJ
I am blessed mother of three beautiful living children and a deceased son since 1993, plus thousands more medical students since 1997. I started writing these tips as a Facebook page entry since June 10th, 2011. If you can benefit from these, let’s share them with as many parents out there as possible.
- Strive to the best role model to your children. Make them proud of you first before you can expect them to make you proud. How about asking this question to your adolescent kids today: “Have I ever made you proud, son/daughter?” Reflect on the answer, if you’re gonna get one.
- Display your commitment, affection and love for each other (as parents & couple) for your children to see. Put on your best smiles the moment you step into the house, no matter how bad things are at work. Make your home as the sanctuary & heaven on earth for the kids. Keep it warm & cozy with your prayers and unconditional love for everyone.
- Avoid degrading or talking bad about your spouse in front of the children. Remember, it is their father/mother you’re complaining about. Don’t try to win them over & make them go against your spouse. That’s not win-lose, in fact, it is definitely a lose-lose!
- Appreciate every single deed and help you received from your children. Thank them, praise them – loud and clear for everybody to hear. Put on your best smile while thanking them. You have just made up their day.
- Practice what you preach. But don’t preach every time you talk to the children. It might sound like a good sermon to you, but to them, it is simply a nag! Don’t ever begin your sentence with ‘When I was your age,…”. If you do, just watch their eyes rolling up & their ears turning deaf.
- Provide spiritual guide to your children – they need the framework & structure. Never neglect spirituality in everything you do. Pray together as much as you could. Read the Quran and reflect on its meaning. Convince them, spiritual health is as important (if not more) as physical, mental & emotional health.
- Apologize for your mistakes and shortcomings, though sorry is the hardest word, especially for parents. We can be wrong too. The children need to be reminded that they’re being raised by HUMAN BEINGS, not angels. Try hard not to repeat the mistakes. This might be the most difficult tip to practice!
- Allow some space for your adolescents to make decisions and guide them form there. Trust them. Who else will if not you, the parent who raised them up! Don’t doubt your parenting. Avoid suffocating them with your over-protectiveness. Let them learn from their mistakes.
- Introduce your children to your friends/colleagues. Exhibit how much you appreciate them & proud to be associated with them. Only then you could expect your kids to introduce their friends to you!
- Learn about your children’s love languages. Each has a different, dominant type, though they might come form the same womb. Manage the diversity. Adapt the best parenting method to each of them. Get feedback – that’s the only way to improve.
- Thank ALLAH every day for selecting you, of all the parents in the world, to be the parent to these beautiful children. Feel honored by the privileges of being a parent. Enjoy your parenthood – despite the hardship, pain, worries and sleepless nights (not mentioning the big bucks). Cherish your role – show how much you love being a parent!
- Treasure your own parents, and let the children realize how much you love them. Visit their graves (if they are no longer alive) & tell the children amazing stories about their deceased grandparents. If they’re still alive, allow the children spend their holidays together. Allow grandparents to occupy a special place in the children’s hearts & lives.
- Involve the children in making plans for the family – renovating the house, buying a new car, selecting gifts etc. Best time to teach them about family value & traditions. Let them suggest, however indicate who’s the boss. Be fair, sporting and reasonable – this is when the children learn the rules of the game.
- Instill love for books & knowledge into your children’s lives. Hang around in bookshops & never miss the annual book fair. Being digital natives, introduce them to e-books, digital readers & tablets. Read together as a family. You’re enriching them with a legacy.
- Be fair in showing off your affection to each of your children. Deal with sibling rivalry – do not just ignore it. Make time to understand the dynamics, address the dissatisfaction, attend to each complaint. Put yourself in their shoes – they always see things differently!
- Learn to say NO to your children, especially on matters of principles. Do not compromise your values to accommodate their demands. Provide guidance, framework & structure. They need those to lead a successful & meaningful future
- Avoid calling your children ‘problematic’ – especially when you can’t handle them. Let’s rephrase – they are children with ‘difficulties’ – varying degrees, of course. Some quite trivial, some really massive! They need your help & assistance. Do not give up or abandon them now!
- Support each other in your parenting process. Display solidarity. Restrain from open contradiction on parenting styles. Kids tend to be manipulative if they now you both have disagreement. Single parent, engage others (family, close friends) to support you. You shouldn’t shoulder these duties alone!
- Instill sense of belonging among your children. Train the young ones to respect the elder siblings, vice verse. Keep them closely knitted. Treat them equally, avoid favoritism. Express unconditional love. Everyone matters and has a special, dedicated place in everybody’s heart.
- Befriend your adolescent kids – of possible be their best friend. Avoid being their worst enemy. No doubt parenting adolescents can be most challenging, but they’re also facing the most difficult phase of their lives. Friends are not judgmental, loyal anda keep secrets well, while enemies despise and couldn’t stand one another. Which one is your?
- Respond appropriately when others complained about your children’s misbehavior/misconduct. Do not take it personally. Do not stage war or threaten to take legal action against the complainant before investigating thoroughly. It takes the whole world (not just a village) to raise a child these days.
- Make time to read the Quran together with your children, especially the adolescents. Ponder on the translation. Help each other to memorize some parts of the Quran. Each child should have his/her own Quran (+ translation) hardcopy, besides a mobile phone or laptop!
- Raise your boys to be caring, thoughtful and responsible men. Never humiliate them in front of others, especially the siblings. Be a good listener and mind-reader. Listen to his silence. Read his body languages. Your teenage boy is sending out a message: SOS, help me survive this rapids of adolescence! Anybody listening out there?
- Engage in intellectual discussion with your spouse – on issues of environment, politics, and socio-economics. Include the children in the discourse, get their opinions. Avoid gossiping about the neighbors/artists/politicians. Stop quarrelling over petty matters. Enlighten your home with rays of wisdom and virtues.
- Play with your toddlers (below five years) – that was what Saidina Ali RA proposed. Dads, carry them over your shoulders – give them the chance to see the world from where you stand. Rasulullah SAW did that to his grandsons. The child psychologists agreed that is the best way to carry your toddler.
- Pay attention to your adolescent girl. She really wants to know whether she inherits your beauty. Mum! She desperately needs to know whether you think she’s pretty and presentable. Dad! Assure her that in your eyes – she is the most beautiful and charming. She needs the affirmation to face the world of fake beauty outside.
- Discipline your children (especially those between 7 – 12 years of age) with love. Sound familiar, eh? How can that be possible? If you really love them, train your children with discipline, self restraints and strong will. Instill consistency and high standard of self-management. Unfortunately, it all has to start with you first!
- Watch your children sleeping. See how innocent and peaceful they are! Thank ALLAH for trusting you to look after His beautiful, tender creatures. Promise ALLAH that you will seriously take good care of them. Keep to your promise – never ever forget that.
- Listen to your children. I really mean it. Listen to their stories, laugh at their jokes and answer their questions. Give your undivided attention if they need you to listen to their worries, complaints etc. Look into their eyes. Once they’re assured that you care enough for them, they are ready to face any challenges out there!
- Groom your children with good manners – train them to say ‘Please’, Thank you’, ‘Excuse me’ etc. Teach them the right body language, facial expression and voice intonation that goes along with those pleasant words. Explain what rudeness means, make them aware of social norms & cultural values surrounding them.
With all my love,
With kind permission of Dr Harlina taken from: http://drhar.blogspot.my/2011/07/dr-harlinas-survival-tips-for-parents.html
SOURCE : Published in Islamic Herald Magazine Volume 35.