Friday, July 09, 2004

Reflections on Raising Children in North America
Caught between challenges and Opportunities

1. Living Life - an analogy of swimming: pleasurable, refreshing, enriching if one can master the art of swimming. He reaches the shore, sometimes exhausted but aware that he has achieved. In contrast, if one cannot swim, or is a weak swimmer - the waters can be fraught with dangers and he can be pulled away by strong currents and even drown. The same with children - life can be a rewarding experience or a disaster, depending on how we master the art of living.

2. Children's future: A concern for the majority of people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Some of these concerns:
- developing the whole person
- Immorality and vices
- Education/career
- Personality (caring, compassionate vs. anger, indifference)
- Physical well being
- Emotional Stability
- Financial independence
- Spousal concerns

3. Approach:
- Should be well thought out/strategic rather than haphazard
- Priorities as opposed to wants
- A good product is the result of great efforts
- Rooted in spiritual/moral values

4. Imbalances in our approach:
- Undue emphasis to physical/material well being
- career-oriented vs. development of natural abilities
- external influences/choices

5. Elements of good Parenting:
- Sense of dignity and self worth
- Nurture an atmosphere of love and mercy
- Worship is the cornerstone - incline to do good naturally
- Compassion - exemplified in home towards each other
- generosity - show by example and the kinds of choices you make.
- Adherence to the rule of law
- Develop Respect - especially to elders
- Be of benefit to others, rather than a burden
- Ensure discipline is appropriate and in proportion to wrong committed - rewards and punishment must be expressed clearly as such
- Establish a sense of hope, not despair
- Ensure that boundaries are known and respected

6. Others points:
- Physical nearness/showing of love (importance of father being home)
- Communication - keep the doors open
- Define expectations; do not lower them.
- Be consistent - children are excellent judges of character
- Understand challenges such as peer pressure/mood swings etc.
- Create alternatives
- Engage in "small kindness"
- Know your sense of place and time; correct appropriately
- Accept gradual outcomes; do not impose
- Power of Dua - can change outcomes
- Understand and acknowledge inherent differences in make/female make-up, emotions etc.
- Be ready to sacrifice
- Make your homes centres of discussions; do not close the doors to communication

And Allah knows best!!


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