It’s hard work being the favorite child. I really hate that my brothers had to find out about it this way, but well, here we are. Although no one’s actually told me, and my parents treat us all the same, I’m almost positive I’ve been the favorite for at least four or five years now alhamdulillah.
Jokes aside, there’s nothing like having a great relationship with your parents. It’s definitely one of those ways that will help you enter into paradise. It’s such a big deal that in the Quran, Allah mentions being kind to your parents immediately after He commands us to worship none but Him. Allah says:
And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to your parents. If one or both of them reach old age in your lifetime, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor be harsh with them, but address them in terms of honor. And lower to them the wing of humility through mercy. And say “O my Lord, have mercy on them as they did on me when I was little.” (Quran 17:23-24)
The verses in the Quran about parents and parent/child relationships are too numerous to discuss in this short article. Suffice it to say that you should work really hard to get this aspect of your life straight as much as possible. We should obey our parents as long as it’s not in disobedience to our Lord.
Now I realize that there are some very unhealthy parent/child relationships out there. The scope of this article is to address ways to improve what would already be considered a somewhat healthy relationship. Sure, everyone could still pick up a few tips from this article that may help. But for those truly struggling with their relationships, I ask that Allah grants you ways out from means you would have never imagined and that you’re able to get the help you need.
Being your parents’ favorite child doesn’t happen overnight. But here are ten sure-fire ways to get you on your way. And make sure you share these tips with your siblings. I’m sure there’s plenty of love to go around. Passing it on is the first step to being the favorite brother or sister, but I’ll leave that discussion for another day.
- Get their Advice About Everything
This is one way to really build a great relationship with them. With this one little act, it shows them you love and care about them, it shows that you respect them, and it shows that you honor them. And it doesn’t just have to be about the big things – college, marriage, a job (although you should definitely talk to them about those things as well), but ask them if your outfit matches, how to approach a friend about something that’s been bothering you, or if you should grab sushi or a burger because you’re so incredibly torn at the moment. And believe me, while you may not always want to take their advice, if you ask them for it enough times, they’ll know you respect them enough such that they won’t mind if you don’t always follow it.
- Serve Them
Do things without them having to ask you for it. Don’t act like you don’t already know what those things are. And while you’re doing those things for the sake of Allah, you’re also trying to make them happy for the sake of Allah. So you don’t have to hide those things from them. So when you shovel the snow in front of their house, you can be a little loud until they open the door to see their favorite child cleaning the driveway.
- Let Things Slide
There will always be things that bother you with anybody. Unfortunately people tend to have much shorter tempers with their parents than they do with anyone else. When something bothers you, let it go and remember all the times they let things go for you in your life – things you may remember and things you don’t. One of the absolute worst things you can do in your life is to hold a grudge against your parents. It’s not worth it, and in the end will only hurt you more than them. Also remember that the Prophet (s) said, “The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it because he gets recompensed by his relatives (for being kind and good to them), but the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so even though the latter has severed the ties of kinship with him”. [Bukhari]
- Share in What They Love
No, you don’t always have the same interests. You like going to the movies and your dad likes watching cricket. You enjoy vacationing at the beach and your mom’s idea of a vacation is having the whole family over for dinner and hanging out in the living room. Ask them about the things that you know interest them. If you need to learn more to be able to have a legitimate conversation about it then do it… even if it’s not your first choice of what you want to talk about.
- Keep Constant Contact
If it’s possible, talk to your parents every day. Just calling and giving them your greetings for five minutes a day doesn’t fulfill this perfection of your relationship with them, but it’s a start. You can find out if they are in need of anything, and while they may not say it, they just love to hear your voice. Don’t forget to smile when you call. Your parents have a way of knowing when you’re smiling on the other end of the phone. This also goes for your children if you have them. Make sure they always keep a great relationship with their grandparents. Have your kids call them consistently or see them, make sure that when they walk into a room they always go to greet them, and don’t accept any disrespect from them towards your or your spouse’s parents. Always speak highly to your children about their grandparents.
- Contact Your Extended Family Members
Keep in touch with your aunts and uncles and grandparents and your other extended family. Very few things make your parents more proud of you. Even the prophet Muhammad (s) said: “Whoever is pleased that he be granted more wealth and a prolonged life, let him keep good relations with his family.” If this seems strange, read the first chapter of Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” which talks about the people in a town called Roseto, PA who were outliving everyone else and the only thing scientists could find that they were doing differently was keeping stronger ties with the community they were in, which consisted of their extended family that migrated together from Italy. The prophet Muhammad (s) also said: “The finest act of goodness is that a person should treat kindly the loved ones of his father.” [Muslim]
- Always Share Good News with Them
They should be some of the first people you share good news with. Perhaps just after your spouse and just before you announce it on social media. They say that people won’t remember what you say, but they’ll remember how you made them feel. Spreading the good news is one way to make sure your relationship is always strong. Out of all the people you know, your parents are likely the most sincerely happy for your accomplishments in life; even if they don’t always tell you.
- Give Them Credit for Everything Good You Do
Even if you think you worked hard and did something on your own, make sure you give your parents their due rights. First of all, you should know that there are people who worked harder than you and didn’t achieve the same result. It’s by the mercy of Allah, so don’t try to take credit for it anyway. I don’t care if you got a PhD and your mother didn’t finish high school. You better kiss her on the head for all she’s done for you and for the person that her hard work and dua’ allowed you to become. If they compliment you on something, ask them where they think you got it from!
- Make Them Laugh and Smile
Sometimes people get religious and the first thing that leaves them is their light heartedness and smile. Do we forget that the companions said that no one smiled as much as the Prophet (s)? It was narrated by Jarir ibn Abdullah that every time the Prophet Muhammad (s) saw him he smiled at him. Now what about our own mothers and fathers? Smiling at your parents goes a very long way. Just as we make our friends laugh and smile, we should do the same with our parents.
- Make Dua’ for Them and Ask Them to Make Dua’ for You
Never forget your parents in your prayers – whether they are alive or not. The Prophet (s) taught us that the prayer of a righteous child for his or her parents is one of the things that may still benefit someone after they have passed. Always be in the habit of praying for them. Hundreds of people can attend a funeral, but as days, weeks, and months pass, the only ones who will remember to continue making dua’ are their righteous children. And when you always remember your parents in your prayers it will always keep your relationship strong. You can’t make sincere dua’ for them and then turn around and raise your voice at them just moments later. Also ask them to make dua’ for you. Not that they forget to, but it keeps their hearts tied to you. Not to mention that it’s quite possible that the good things that are already coming to you in your life is a direct result of your parents’ prayers.
Abu Usaid Malik ibn Rabi’ah As-Sa’idi (r) reported: We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah (s) when a man of Banu Salamah came to him and asked, “O, Messenger of Allah! Is there any obedience to parents left that I can show to them after their death?” He (s) responded, “Yes. To pray for them, to supplicate for their forgiveness, to fulfill their promises after their death, to maintain the ties of kinship which cannot be maintained except through them, and honor their friends.” [Abu Dawud]
May Allah strengthen our family bonds and unite us with our parents in paradise.