After Islam, family is the central focus of our daily lives. It is our family who witness us at our best and at our very worst. They are who we turn back to in moments of great joy and moments of desperation. Family can be our anchor, a hidden support that keeps steady in this world. They have shaped us, in ways that are apparent and those more subtle. Who we have become is, in part, due to our family. As the old English saying goes, “We all become like our mothers in the end!” However our families also have the ability to build us up or tear us down. An unhappy home life can leave its scars on the heart; scars that may never heal, affecting a person’s future relationships and future happiness.
What if we could strengthen that bond between members of our family? What if we could do something to make our home a happier place to be, and give our children the best chance of future happiness?
Here are some steps you can take to strengthen relationships and build a happier family life insha Allah:
1) Change your mind-set
Before you can change the family dynamic of your household, you must first change yourself. If you are a mother, realise that you are the heart of the home and your mood impacts tremendously on those around you. If you feel positive and upbeat, it will boost the morale in your home, instantly lifting the mood of your family. Before you begin your daily list of chores and tasks, just take a moment to be thankful for your family and all their peculiarities!
Ameera Rahim, author, herbalist and mom of six from Traditional Muslimah Homemaker says, “Realize that each person in your home is a gift! A gift from the best Giver of gifts! Treat them well and treasure them. Honour Him by appreciating them. He blessed you by putting them on your care.”
2) Work on Your Marriage
It often happens that discord within a family began with a marital problem. If you are having problems in your marriage, that needs to be addressed first, before you move onto anything else. A strong loving marriage, where each partner respects the other, will set a tone within the home that will impact positively on the children as they look to you as an example.
3) Be Considerate
Do what you can to make life easier and less stressful for other members of the family. This might mean preparing a packed lunch for your husband if he’s got a busy day ahead, preparing a special breakfast on the days your kids have exams or just keeping the house quiet when someone is tired or upset. These small acts show that you care about that person and you care about what is important to them. Talk about this concept with your children and encourage them to do small acts of kindness too.
4) Learn to Communicate
Communication is much more than just talking. Effectively communicating our problems and concerns with our family is essential for a happy family dynamic.
Ayesha Aslam, Direct of Sakoon Counselling says, “How we communicate can either cause conflict or bring peace and closeness. The basic steps for better communication are: Listen- understand what is being said, don’t be defensive or let your nafs take control. Empathise – communicate positively without using blaming language”
5) Family Traditions
If you don’t already have some family traditions, you should start them! People, especially children, thrive on routine. Whether it’s making Wednesday evening as ‘Movie Night’, going for ice cream after Friday prayer, or making pancakes every Sunday, your family will look forward to these special times together. Keep these family times relaxed and fun. Enjoy each other’s company and cherish the beautiful memories you are making together.
One of the most obvious family traditions is to eat your evening meal together. Ameera Rahim says, “Eating together is a must… In the age of microwavable dinners and fast food, taking time to slow down and eat a home cooked meal as a family is spiritually and emotionally rewarding.”
6) Pray Together
A beautiful practice to establish in your home is worshipping together, as a part of your daily family life, and a certain way to bring barakah into your home. When in praying salat together, those moments of intimacy with Allah are shared with your family. Sharing these special moments can only act to strengthen your relationship with your family through a mutual love for Him (SWT).
7) Have one-to-one time
Try to find time to spend with each of your children and your husband individually, away from the rest of the family. Do this on a regular basis. This bonding time doesn’t have to be anything fantastic! A trip to the shops or a walk around the neighbourhood will suffice. It will show them that they are important to you; that you want to be with them and get to know them. It also gives them the opportunity to confide in you when it might otherwise be difficult to do so.
8) Prevent Sibling Rivalry
Sibling rivalry is inevitable in most families but it can have negative long-term consequences if parents to do not address it. If brothers and sisters are always quarrelling and showing disrespect, and even aggression to one another, the home is no longer the sanctuary it should be. Instead it becomes a house filled with tension and anger. Find ways to nurture patterns of life-long friendships between siblings, and set limits as to what will and will not be tolerated. Do not compare your children, but embrace their individuality and take steps to engender respect, kindness and justice within the family unit.
9) Say Sorry
You may not mean it, and it may not have been your fault, but being the first to say, ‘I’m sorry,’ can sometimes be all it takes to soften the other person’s heart, and break down barriers. Put aside your ego and pride and just apologise.
We all aspire to have a happy home-life, but it is something that has to be worked at. It’s worth remembering that nobody has the perfect family, and every home has its problems that need to be worked through. The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said, “The best amongst you are those who are best to their families, and I am the best of you to my family.” (Tirmidhi)
For those that have tried but failed to resolve a conflict within the family Ayesha Aslam advises, “…help should be sought through professional people who are trained and can provide tools and techniques to help address the underlying issues. This can be in the form of individual counselling, mediation or family therapy. Some of these services can be found on the Islamic counselling website or by using our services.”
If we fill our homes with love and laughter, mutual respect and compassion, and the remembrance of Allah (SWT), we will have created an environment necessary of our spouse, children and ourselves to thrive and to succeed, in this world, and the next insha Allah.
Traditional Muslimah Homemaker: www.traditionalmuslimah.blogspot.com
Islamic Counselling: www.islamiccounselling.co.uk
Sakoon Islamic Counselling Service: www.sakoon.co.uk
Gemma Elizabeth is a homeschooling mother of three from the UK. After qualifying as a Veterinary surgeon in 2009, she now works as a freelance writer, passionately advocating home education and the importance of family. When she is not frantically trying to keep up with her energetic kids, she spends her time reading profusely and writing about their homeschooling adventures at http://www.OurMuslimHomeschool.com.