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Gentle Mothering

Bismillah

Our children deserve gentle mothers and sometimes, due to pressures, stress, or just plain stubbornness, we may fail to show gentleness in all circumstances with our children.

I want my children to grow up to be gentle human beings, forgiving, overlooking of the faults of others, especially against them, forbearing of hard circumstances, and merciful too inshallah. Its a tall order, made more so if they happen not to grow with that type of influence or environment. Therefore, I have decided to challenge myself to become a gentler mother in every way that I’m called to interact with my little ones.

I was also really inspired by the following short story:

asan, The Slave, and the Jug”

Ḥasan (rayAllāhu anhu) had  a slave and he asked the slave to pour him a glass of water.  The slave dropped the jug, which fell on his foot. The slave sees that Ḥasan (rayAllāhu anhu) is upset, as is only expected.  In order to diffuse the situation, the slave quotes part of the above āyah, “who swallow  anger” and then Ḥasan says immediately “I swallowed my anger.” So the slave thinks that this is as good of an opportunity as ever, and the slave continues to the next part of the āyah and says “who forgive people” and then Ḥasan said to the slave, “I forgive you.” The slave persists and completes the āyah, telling Ḥasan (rayAllāhu anhu) that Allah loves those who do good to others” (also a meaning of “ihsān). And then asan said “Go, you’re free.”

If I could exemplify this treatment within the sphere of motherhood, I’d consider my feel well on the way to becoming a gentle mother inshallah

My patience is often tested with the endless questions (inquisitiveness is a sign of intelligence so I’m happy about it, when I’m not allowing myself to be stressed), repeat bad behavior, unwillingness to do chores, and proneness to making massive amounts of mess at the very spot I’ve just finished cleaning! LOL

However, I know intellectually, that they are learning from what I tell them, show them, and what they observe when I’m not paying attention to their learning. Their minds are constantly open and absorbing, even when they seem to be active in another action or play, I know they are learning.

So my challenge to myself is going to be to hold on to my temper in the face of their disobedience, misbehavior, and preventable accidents (like today’s broken glass bowl and purposely and for fun spilled water).

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Bismillah
So I’ve read (extensively it seems) that reading to your children has numerous benefits. All proponents agree that at least 20 minutes a day, with more time devoted to reading to them, being better inshallah.
More recently, I’ve heard from here and there that reading out loud to them is extremely beneficial, with one homeschool mother saying now that her children are grown, the only thing she ever regretted was stopping to read out loud to them when they hit the early teens. She felt that much was lost by missing that opportunity.
Then I got to reminiscing and realized that I have memories of mom reading to us from various books, when we were around 10 or so. Obviously she read to us when we were younger too but I distinctly remember her reading this Swahili (my mother tongue) book about fairy tales that evolved/focused on African theme (hindsight taught me the label).
I also remember Gulliver’s Travels, Aesop’s Fables, various enchanted or princess stories, etc. She also used to make up stories and after a while, I used to make up stories to entertain my siblings (I’m oldest).
By age 12, I was reading “adult” books (if we had young adult in TZ I don’t remember reading them). My mom had shelves of books that I stole into (stole because they were mostly romances!). By age fifteen, I was a seasoned reader (by my estimation mind, you!). I read romance (modern and historical, fantasy and regular) and science fiction (loved anything with time travel or dragons or altenate universes). My tastes grew and expanded and broadened and I attribute most of my love for reading to my mother, who read out loud to us and who read extensively herself mashAllah.
So I’m adding my vote of confidence to the “read out loud and very often” to your kids, and also let them see you reading and loving it (apart from reading to them I mean). It also helps to have as many books on your shelves as possible (sort of like visible proof that you enjoy reading) inshallah.
With that in mind, I’m attaching this http://www.booksshouldbefree.com/genre/Children inshallah.
They have audio books (for those out loud reading challenged (it actually takes a lot of practice to read out loud, practice and familiarity), or just because of time constraints or for many other reasons I can think of or you can think of.
Enjoy.
Ps. I’ve not been paid to endorse this site, I just really like it.
Pss. I also highly recommend reading the Quran to the children out loud (English or Arabic or better yet, soft). My kids especially enjoy Quran reading and prefer my voice to the shaykh of choice mashallah.

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Bismillah

As I’m getting ready to leave home for the second time in my life, to go back to my husband’s side inshallah, I decided to ask my parents some hard hitting questions on raising children. Instead of asking them what they would do in my situation, or currently in their own situation, I asked them what they think they would change if they could about how they raised us.

It wasn’t easy to get answers, especially from my mother as I feel she is ridden with guilt and doesn’t know how to channel it or how to alleviate it or where really to place the blame for it. I think she is overwhelmed with the feelings of it, some of which she may be justified in feeling and some of which I don’t think belong in the picture at all, except by the suggestions of the Shaytan who is just trying to hurt her more.

There is a lot of background that went into my mother’s answers, most notably the current circumstances of each one of her children and how she feels about that. However, in summary, my mother feels that she would change two main things about how she had raised us, if she could do it again.

The first is that she would have spent more time with us. This was a surprise to me because I had thought that mom was very secure in her decision to work and pursue a career while being a mother and wife at the same time. I’m not sure if it’s hindsight or simply aged wisdom (aren’t they the same things?), but that is what she said. Also, she didn’t qualify it, and I had expected her to, so that surprised me even further.

The second thing she would have changed is that she would not have uprooted us from TZ to US. She also didn’t qualify this statement despite some probing, so I’m wondering at the level of guilt riding her and I suspect it to be very high.

When she first initiated the move to the US, and for many subsequent years, I felt that she was very firm that the decision had been for the best. Recent circumstances in her kids’ lives must be really affecting her emotional state for her to leave that statement so unqualified. So for now, it, no both of them stand.

I will explore both statements further inshallah in a bid to arrive at an answer that will help me in raising my own children because I value greatly my parents’ insight for they raised me and I feel Allah has placed great blessings therein.

My father’s answer was given more in a roundabout away as I don’t think it’s something he’d sat down to think about, at least not recently, and so was feeling his way around the right answer. After hearing his words, I concluded that he feels that we should not have moved from TZ to US at all. He felt that the move put him at a disadvantage and whatever influence, power, knowledge or insight he had gained as a father, was all pushed out the window and he was placed at the same level as his children, floundering in a new environment, and just flowing with the very strong current. He felt that he could no longer be the leader he was meant to be as a husband and father, and therefore could not really offer any help, support, or guidance to his children, nor could he really be the strong provider and protector of his wife, because of the newness of the place and circumstances.

In the end, both my parents felt helpless to offer us anything, which left my father feeling helpless and my mother feeling guilty. My mom also said that the main reason she regrets moving us is because not only was the environment new to all of us, but because she had no choice but to work and be away from home at such a critical time. She felt that she failed in her role as the one supposed to be the most influencial person in our lives. Others stepped in and provided leadership and support, moral direction and values, because she was too busy to do that for us. The case of when the cat is away, the mice play.

Looking back, I totally agree with my parents evaluation of their situation and feel my conviction to be a stay at home mother strengthened by this information, as well as my decision that we as parents, must decide quickly and firmly, where we will raise our children, then work to do our best in that place, no matter what comes later inshallah.

Also, my father’s answer gave me a new insight into what might matter most to the father of children and husband as the expected and looked upon head of the family and leader inshallah. Clearly, the best thing will be to have my husband choose a place he feels most confident to succeed and then plant our family roots there, whether the place be my preferred choice or not.

I had never thought that the determining factor for where we would raise a family be where my husband feels the most confident, and yet I feel it makes a lot of sense. After all, he is the one who has to be out and about every day, the one who has to earn a living in the place we live it, the one who has to make a place for our whole family in the environs.

Originally I had been thinking more like a woman, with security being the highest priority like where the best hospitals and schools and other important facilities are, and also safety from gangs and other unsavory aspects of society. I still think these are important things to consider but they must be weighed with where dh feels he cannot just survive, but also thrive, grow, and prosper inshallah.

For me this is a tremendous decision, taking much of my own security and placing it in the hands of someone else, however, I have to trust that my husband will consider all of our needs along with his, and tender his decision after taking everything into account inshallah.

The most important thing I learned from the interview is that parents have a strong need to provide security as well as guidance and support to their children, all in an effort to enhance the security and future prospects of their children. I also learned that when parents are unable to provide this for their children, or their ability is hindered or curtailed, it can cause deep feelings of guilt and helplessness to engulf their hearts and even blind them to whatever other achievements they accomplish, including the fact that they did indeed to the best that they could, with the knowledge that they had and the circumstances that they were in. furthermore, these negative emotions reduce their confidence as parents and best teachers of just about everything that could ever matter to their children.

I had always thought that so long as I did my best and gave it my all, if things didn’t turn out exactly the way I had hoped, I would be ok with that and I’m learning from observing and listening to my parents, that perhaps it is not as simple and clear cut as that.

Parenting is a hard job, requiring dedication and focus, and benefiting from the Mercy and Grace of Allah as well as His Direction and Guidance and Help inshallah. Therefore I appeal to Allah the Merciful for all these ingredients and more, so that we as parents my raise our children upon the right path, that our children learn to walk on that path and love it and keep to it, and that Your Pleasure is gained and manifestly so in this amazing adventure and tremendous responsibility inshallah.

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Raising Visionary Children


Bismillah

From an early age, my goal will be for my children to memorize the Quran, the beautiful and inspiring words of Allah. Many Muslim parents aim for the same thing and I’m no different Alhamdulillah. I also want for them, from an early age, to understand what that the Quran is the Words of Allah, that they are the an absolute truth, and that implementing them in one’s life is a sure means of attaining success both worldly and after wards. Inshallah I’ll be working to help them understand the meaning of the words in the language they are most comfortable in and learn to see the Quran in their daily living so they may be guided inshallah.

I think I would also like to create a routine where all of us purposely pick something from the Quran (portion we are memorizing or just what strikes our fancy or moves us etc) and spend 10 minutes contemplating this verse/s and see what we can gain from it. Then spend 5 minutes enumerating benefits or explaining our insight or simply discussing it for the benefits of all inshallah.

I haven’t started on this yet but think it is something dh and I can start inshallah, maybe after breakfast or before bedtime, and then when our little ones are a bit older and able to think more critically, they can be included in this routine inshallah.

Most importantly, I’m looking to gain the benefit of bringing the family together through Quran reading, contemplation/understanding, and sharing of thoughts and ideas that inspire and teach inshallah.

Have each of us make a list of things we are grateful for and the blessings in our lives and have a circle of gratefulness. It can be something we do at dinnertime or family times; where we speak about these things and thank Allah together as a family for the many blessings inshallah.

Another off shoot from this can be us listing people/situations of others to pray for, things to do for others to show kindness and generosity, etc. I hope to do this as a family inshallah in order to shift the focus from personal needs to the needs of others who have less than us and are in need. I want to teach my children and practice myself that even if we can’t physically do something for another, we can certainly make Dua for them and expect through that prayer that inshallah, Allah can and will change their condition for better. I believe this will reinforce reliance upon Allah, that He is able to do everything and that in the end, the ultimate power in any situation starts and ends with Allah’s will and appealing to Allah for ourselves and especially for others, will garner reward for everyone involved inshallah.

Finally, the character of our prophet (salallahu alayhe wasalaam) is the character of the Quran and he (salallahu alayhe wasalaam) is the best role model, the one set for us to follow by Allah Himself. In addition to having my whole family working to implement as many of the exemplary actions and characters from the prophet (salallahu alayhe wasalaam), I inshallah wish to give as examples to inspire and encourage, the many wonderful sahabah (radhiallahu anhum), who were followers of Muhammad’s (salallahu alayhe wasalaam) beautiful manners and examples, just like we are trying to be followers.

To sum up my hopes for my family inshallah

1. Using the Quran to deal with life’s problems. Memorize then live the Quran with understanding, implementing the injunctions and using the guidance in the Quran in tackle daily problems, gain direction and focus, and attain wisdom through practicing what is preached inshallah.

2. Being grateful and humble. Exercise gratefulness in its various aspects, strive for discipline in living life diligently, and work to be humble through observing and working together with those of greater need, as well as keeping other who are too far to reach, in mind and heart while praying to Allah.

3. Concerned with character evaluation and improvement in light of the beautiful example Allah has set for us. Constantly work to improve the self by following the correct guidance, avoiding pride, avarice, and delusions of grandiosity that have no place if following the truth and the beautiful example of our Prophet (salallahu alayhe wasalaam) and his companions (radhiallahu anhum).

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