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A test for parents

May 24, 2012

IN building society, parents have a special duty. They are to nurture their children in such a way so that they become responsible and committed to serving humanity.

The Quran describes children as a test for parents. In Surah Anfaal (8:28) and Surah Taghabun (64:15) Allah says that “…

your possessions and your children are but a trial….” Therefore, they are to be brought up with a full sense of responsibility so that they become true assets of society and a source of constant happiness for their parents.

Parents rightly consider their offspring their chief support — especially in old age — and attach high hopes to them. They wish for their children to gain respect and dignity in society thus they are nursed, nurtured and loved in childhood. While providing the best care for children, parents sacrifice their rest, sleep and other interests. They desire that their children listen to them and honour their words. Also, respect for parents is a basic requirement of society.

But our present-day society is characterised by an inter-generational gap. Traditional values are under pressure in the modern age. Children, on reaching the stage of adolescence, become more independent and sometimes ignorant of their parents’ needs. They develop their individualistic nature and chalk out their own patterns of life. Many youngsters do not obey their elders but express their free will. They differ with their parents in many areas and declare them outmoded. This requires parents to act sensibly with patience and forbearance.

If children are trained properly in their formative years, with deep understanding of the correct principles in their hearts and minds, these will stay with them for their entire life and they will perform wonders. Therefore, parents need to take great care during childhood by helping, guiding and encouraging their children and by participating in their educational and other healthy activities.

At times, due to various reasons, young children seem engrossed in juvenile activities, and become overambitious and aggressive in their attitude. They go overboard and do not comply with their parents’ wishes. This creates tension and stress within families and family bonds become shaky. Children find their parents’ demands excessive and intrusive while parents complain that their young children do not heed their advice.

In this situation, both sides need to be more mindful; they must understand each other. Parents are to realise that they are under trial. They must take lessons from the religious traditions that even many prophets had to face such situations.

Prophet Yaqoob had 12 sons, the majority of whom were not happy with him. Similarly Prophet Nuh was not happy with his son.

Surah 29 asks “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: we believe and will not be tested? And indeed We tested those who were before them….” (29:2-3). According to a hadith, the hardest tests were given to the prophets, thereafter the saintly people were examined and then those who were below them in rank. Thus every person is subject to tests and trials in this earthly life.

Though parents and children are biologically connected, this does not mean that they are to impose their will on each other.

Dialogue and creating mutual understanding are the best ways to tackle cumbersome situations. Both have to take care of each other and contribute to the well-being of each other. Adolescents need their own space to move freely. They are full of energy, ideas and emotions.

All parents desire that their children should remain obedient, loyal and devoted. But to achieve these objectives, parents have to provide a spiritual environment in their homes where children spend most of their time. At the initial stage, they should take utmost care in their religious formation by setting examples of honest living.

Children are to be nurtured and looked after in accordance with Islamic teachings. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has said that the best gift a parent may give to children is education. He loved his grandsons Hazrat Imam Hasan and Hazrat Imam Hussain and thus set an example for Muslims to follow.

Children are to be taught that life is competitive; it is not a bed of roses but is made up of problems, trials and tribulations.

But one must strive for good and not lose hope.

We should teach our children that there is pleasure in contributing to the welfare of others and life is — in the long run — a series of events which involve the idea of give and take. In case youths turn rebellious, parents should use their intellect rather than emotions to deal with the situation and try to bring the youth towards the right path.

They should also invoke Allah’s help, seeking His guidance to overcome difficulty, like Prophet Yaqoob prayed intensely, which resulted in the easing of his difficulties; all his recalcitrant sons asked for forgiveness at a later stage (12:97-98).Pakistan is at a crossroads as its majority population consists of youth. Figures show that more than 60 per cent of the total population of Pakistan is below age 24. This burgeoning youth population can be a huge asset if properly nurtured, carefully trained and guided towards their full potential.

They possess strength, will and grit. Therefore, they are to be engaged in productive activities. All stakeholders need to be alert to make this soaring number of young people social assets for Pakistan.

The writer is an educationist.