Assalamu ‘alaikum to all my fabulous Muslim sisters! This piece is devoted to all you wonderful mothers out there. Being a parent is indeed a thankless job in many ways, isn’t it? Our acknowledgement comes when our children become good human beings with strong iman. The journey for a mother to make this happen is hardly an easy one. There are times when our children will hurt us in unimaginable ways.
Sister *Najma, for example, was really heartbroken by her stepdaughter’s behaviour. Najma was the full-time mother, doing all that she could to parent *Sana successfully. Sana had been going out of her way to be hurtful, and even abusive, throwing tantrums, shouting back, and even doing unacceptable things behind her stepmother’s back. Najma had tried everything, but she was so hurt that she was unwilling to try to bond with the child anymore unless the stepdaughter changed her ways significantly. She learned, through coaching, that it wasn’t her parenting, but other issues that the child was dealing with. However, she also needed to learn to manage her own pain so that she could be the best mother possible.
Despair, disappointment and hurt are the most difficult emotions to deal with. We can’t prevent these from happening – after all, we don’t control our children do we? So, let’s look at some useful ways in which we can work on healing our own heart so we can get back to quality parenting again.
Mothers are often too hard on themselves. They want to keep it all together and expect to be Superwoman. This is not just about the juggling, but being super strong emotionally. If you have ever yelled at your kids then felt guilty about it later, then you are not alone. Of course, it isn’t recommended to lash out at the kids, but it is useful to remember that you are human too. It is natural to feel disappointed and even downright hurt sometimes.
The first and most important tip is to really acknowledge the emotions you are feeling. Many of us feel so hurt that it comes out in anger, or the emotions get buried deep inside, later being released as resentment. The most constructive way of dealing with hurt is to release it. Either find an objective confidante, or release it on your own. Write a letter to your child saying all the things that have hurt you. This is to express the emotions. Do not share this, or give it to them. Instead, just tear it up. Another option is to just cry it out of your system. Crying can be very cathartic. Just honour what your heart is feeling and what you need.
Remember: it is ALL temporary
We may forget that things change – they always do. Allah (SWT) has created the universe to be in movement, and in the same way, our lives are too. So, even though it feels like this is really difficult right now, remember that it will pass. Remind yourself that you have the ability to heal. Time just passes; it’s what we do with it that creates the healing. One strategy to move forward is to visualise a happier, more connected future with your child. Sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Imagine yourselves sharing something that you both love to do. Notice how the two of you are connecting, and how you are enjoying each other. Add any other details that will really help you enjoy a more joyful and meaningful connection. Perhaps you are reciting Qur’an together, having a meal or offering salah. Add the activities that have been meaningful for you in the past, as well as what you would want to share with him or her in future, insha Allah.
Get a little distance!
Conflict and hurt can escalate very easily. Think back to a time when you had a small misunderstanding which became a huge argument. Looking back, you may notice that it was preventable. So, if you are finding that your emotions are raw, then you will need to do something to create a change in perspective. Staying in the situation for the moment may make things worse, and you may say or do something that you later regret, such as spanking or yelling.
When the situation is getting tense, just take a breath and walk away. Leave the room, or even go outside for a walk. Also, find someone who can babysit for you for a little while, while you get some quiet time. Do something to take care of you. You will find that getting a little distance, some fresh air and even having a coffee or a chat with a friend will give you renewed energy to deal with the challenge at home.
Talk about expectations!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve met many mothers who struggle with setting boundaries for their children. If a child whines, they give in to the demands, or perhaps they give them whatever they want in terms of toys or clothes. If we consistently give in to our children’s demands, they receive the message that it is OK to demand whatever they want. It may be OK when they are young, but unfortunately, life is full of tests and they will face disappointments. Prepare your children for life in the real world by teaching them that they won’t get everything just because they want it. Set boundaries clearly. Do you have a set of clear rules? Do your children know exactly what the rules are? How often have you followed through on the consequences you set out? Every time, sometimes, never? What message do you think your disciplinary measures are sending to your children?
First, take some time between you and your spouse to really clarify the house rules and your expectations. Write them down in clear, concise statements that leave no room for misunderstanding. The second step is to set out clear consequences for what will happen if the house rules are not followed. Ensure that you and your spouse are on the same page on this! If there is any disagreement, please note that the children will pick up on this, and it will create further conflict in the family.
Once you and your spouse are ready, take a convenient and calm time to call a family meeting. Discuss the house rules. Ensure that your children have understood them. Let them also know what the consequences will be for when they do not follow the rules. For example, “There will be one day of grounding if your room is untidy. No TV, no phone calls, no treats.” etc. Remember to follow through on the consequences should the rules be broken – if not, your children are receiving the message that it is “OK” to break the rules. This is what we want to avoid teaching our children, not only as Muslims but as good human beings as well.
Children may not like boundaries and structure a lot of the time, but they do appreciate it on some level. They feel needed, loved and supported when their parents offer them clear rules. Give it a go, and if this hasn’t been the way you’ve done things before, it may take some time to get the message across. You may even need some time to be clear yourself. Remember to choose consequences that you are able and willing to follow. You may also want to add some rewards in so the children know that positive behaviours will be rewarded. This is ultimately what we aim for from Allah (SWT) isn’t it? Jannah and blessings for good behaviour – so offer your children blessings here. Time with you or a small day out could make a big difference in their level of motivation.
I hope that you will find these tips useful. My best wishes to you for creating healing within, and a happy harmonious home for you and your children, insha Allah.
Sayeda Habib is a highly qualified professional coach. She coaches Muslim women to help them feel empowered and create results in their lives. She coaches clients one to one and also runs group workshops. She holds the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential issued by the International Coach Federation. She is the author of “Discover the Best in You: Life Coaching for Muslims.” She also contributes to various online and print publications. She has been featured in the media in various countries including Pakistan, the UAE and the United Kingdom. To find out more, log on to www.makelifehappen.com or email at Sayeda@makelifehappen.com