One of the most effective ways of developing a loving and respectful relationship with your child is simple – by being kind and considerate of her feelings.
You have a warm, new bundle of joy to hold in your arms and join your family. You hold her close to your chest to fill her belly round; you wipe her bottom clean, then wrap on a fresh nappy before nap time; you gently lull her back to sleep with tender strokes on her back as she nestles on your shoulder. Throughout the years ahead, you will have an endless array of duties to perform, enabling you to provide for your child’s needs, insha Allah. What a blessing! What a blessing to be responsible for another person who is in need of your services and dependent upon your assistance.
“And begin (charity) with your dependents.” (Bukhari)
One of the blessings of having children is that they provide abundant ways for mothers to gain blessings through charity. Allah (SWT) has placed inside the mother a natural inclination to help and provide for her children and indeed, there are so many ways in which a mother can gain the rewards of charity when interacting with them. One comprehensive hadith comes to mind when thinking of these many ways: The Prophet (SAW) said: “To smile in the company of your brother is charity. To command to do good deeds and to prevent others from doing evil is charity. To guide a person in a place where he cannot get astray is charity. To remove troublesome things like thorns and bones from the road is charity. To pour water from your jug into the jug of your brother is charity. To guide a person with defective vision is charity for you.” (Bukhari)
Let us consider the first suggestion in the hadith: smiling. Have you ever experienced a moment with your child when you were so angry at her that you wanted to smack her, yell at her or shame her with hurtful words? Most of us have. And if you haven’t, well, just give it some time; you’re likely to join the majority soon enough. At some point, you might encounter a situation like the following: you‘ve just finished shopping and you’re tired and have to start cooking dinner. Your 5-year-old tries to help you put the groceries away and accidentally drops and cracks half a dozen eggs on the floor as he tries to place them in the refrigerator – without your permission. Your first notion is to shout at him for his mishap – which will now add an additional chore to your busy schedule.
But how about trying a different approach? How about taking a deep breath, holding in your anger and giving him a forced smile? “Thank you for helping me, Kamal, but next time let Mommy tell you what to put away.”
Not easy to do is it? But what a bountiful load of charity you will have given, insha Allah. The more difficult the task, the greater the reward.
Speaking of difficult tasks, just speak to a mother who has a teenager. You may hear the phrase, “It doesn’t get easier, it only gets harder,” when she advises you about what to expect when your youngster gets older. Indeed, in some ways, instructing older children towards proper behaviour can be somewhat more challenging than instructing younger children. But guess what? This presents another great opportunity for you to gain great rewards through charity – the second part of the hadith. To command to do good deeds and prevent others from doing evil is charity. Here’s a sparkling jewel on how to be more successful at swaying your teenager towards good behaviour: develop a loving and respectful relationship with your child when she’s young. This positive interaction will carry over to when she’s older, insha Allah. A person is more inclined towards following another’s suggestions when the two have a close and positive relationship.
You might be wondering, “How do I develop a loving and respectful relationship with my child when she’s young?” One of the most effective ways of doing this is simple – by being kind and considerate of her feelings. Help her out with her chores if you see she has a lot of homework for the night and might be up into the late hours. You can even excuse her from doing her chores if you see she’s in an unusually bad mood. Share with her often. When you pick up a treat from the store, bring home an extra one to share with her. Young ones are known for wanting to eat whatever Mum is eating – even if it’s the child’s worst dish. Go ahead and give your little one a spoonful of your frozen yogurt, a bite of your granola bar, or sip of your ginger tea that you’ve been waiting all day to relax with. The charity is endless.
Even when your child grows up, marries and leaves home, your opportunities for charity will continue, insha Allah – but probably to a lesser extent, simply because you are with them less. However, there are some children who may require your extensive charity for a longer period, perhaps throughout your and your child’s lifetime – children with special needs, for example. Children who are blind, deaf, mentally challenged, or suffer from other handicaps present a grand opportunity for a mother to perform countless acts of charity. These children have greater needs than the average child. They may need you to physically guide them because they can’t see, or patiently communicate with them through sign language because they can’t hear, or frequently assist them with daily tasks because of their lower intellect. Again, the opportunities for charity are boundless.
So as you can see, the position of being a mother affords a woman the opportunity to give ceaseless charity throughout motherhood. Our warm bundles of joy can be a source of blessings for us in this world, insha Allah, as well as a mounting treasure for us in the Hereafter.
Grandma Jeddah is the author of Discipline without Disrespecting: Discover the Hidden Secrets of How to Effectively Discipline your Muslim Child – And Keep your Peace of Mind While at It. Order her book or subscribe to her free newsletter at www.grandmajeddah.com. You can also visit her blog at grandmajeddah.blogspot.com