Lately, Kashmala has been asking me “why” every time I tell her something, even if it’s not about not doing something. She once asked me why people cry. And I gave an answer and she said, “Why?” And the “Why” went on and on and on and on … till she was distracted by something else.
My mother’s been telling her about hijab (grin!?!) and how we don’t show skin. Apparently, unfortunately, she’s no exception to this rule, either, despite her age (she’s 2.5 years old). At first, she wouldn’t ask about it. Now she asks me, my mother, and each one of my siblings, including her parents. She asks us all in different ways (she’s very clever and has very interesting and creative ways of getting her answers! #SayMashaAllah. God preserve her creativity and intelligence, aameen) and separately so as the answers of one of us will not influence the answers of another (lol). And, obviously, when she/we can’t do something that other people/women are doing, then of course she’s gonna ask, “Why are they doing this? It’s bad.” And you have to have an answer. For me, those are the difficult questions. I can’t tell her why it’s okay for one to show her legs and cleavage but unacceptable for her aunts. I think my mom does a fine job explaining to her the consequences of deviating from Islam – yes, that means Kashmala knows ALLL about hell and the wrath of God. I dread the consequences of her knowledge of hell and a God who’s a bao (monster) from such a delicate age.
Anyway, below are the things in very simple terms that I’ve learned about raising children well. Feel free to add whatever else you find important as well if it’s missing here. The two categories are what you should not and what you should do in front of your kids. Whatever you do around your kids, just think of how it will affect your children's childhood and the rest of their lives. But think hard because sometimes we think something is very small -- just because it may look small to us -- but actually leaves permanent scars on our kids.
|A BIG Don't|
- Don’t yell when kids are around. I'm not sure when we'll all realize that yelling at another person is very disrespectful.
- Don’t indulge in violent behavior.
This should go without saying. Violence is never acceptable except in self-defense cases. You don't want your kids being raised in a cycle of violence, growing up thinking it's okay to use violence just like that.
- Don’t constantly tell kids you’re busy.
Kids remember everything we tell them when they're young. Make sure they don’t grow up thinking you were never there for them, even if it's for something "small" like watching their favorite scene of their favorite cartoon.
- Don't fight (physically or verbally or in any other way).
Avoid fighting especially with your partner. You don't want to send your kids the message that it's okay to hit or yell at another person just because you're angry at them and/or that the child's parents do not love each other.
- Don't backbite or speak negatively of another person, especially your partner.
You shouldn't do this any at any other time, but if you must, be sure your kids aren't around or don't find out about it. Speaking badly of others is always bad, but when you speak badly especially of your partner, you're sending very wrong message to your kids: 1) it's okay to speak ill of people, 2) one of their parents is not worth loving because she/he is a bad person -- otherwise, why would the other parent say those bad things about 'em? 3) you're simply being selfish by arousing negative feelings in your child's heart for one his parents just because you're angry at your partner (if you're being abused by your partner, the court is the one that needs to hear about it more than your kid does).
- Don't lie. It's one thing to lie to your kids to prevent them from, say, harming themselves or someone else (we do it all the time) or to lie because you know they're too young to understand the truth about something. But it's another thing to lie to other people, including your partner, in front of your kids.
- Don't belittle yourself (or another person, as said earlier). This is especially important for the mothers to avoid doing. Kids are less likely to respect us if we don't respect our own selves first and make sure that others around us respect us as well (e.g., our partners).
- Don't criticize yourself, your partner or someone else, or your children. Even most adults can't handle criticism very well, so can you imagine a child? But for adults, at least many of them may be able to appreciate it, if it's helpful. For kids, it may decrease their self-esteem and self-confidence. If you've to teach them a lesson, try to think of the healthiest way possible.
- Don't make them feel like peeing/doodooing is a crime! Look, I know it's tiring having to clean them up all the time and stuff, but that doesn't mean you make them feel horrible for having to relieve themselves. (I know of parents and others who do this to their kids. I don't know why -- do they think the kids will suddenly stop doing it? Well, they won't, just like you or anyone else won't.)