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Parenting Can’t be Outsourced

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Reading has become a redundancy and this is the root cause of most of our problems. Not reading disconnects us from our own history, our culture, religion and from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Reading enables us to know what is happening, to put it in perspective and to anticipate problems and opportunities – two names for the same thing. So ask yourself how many books you read every month. Ignorance is not bliss. It is ugly and shameful. So start reading. Read and encourage your children to read. Read and analyze and discuss and debate. See what questions they ask. The questions are much more important than the answers. Let powerful questions arise in the mind and answer them yourself or find others who can answer them. Cultivate the company of those who read and who have intelligent conversations – not Gheeba (backbiting and slander) disguised as social talk. Cultivate the company of scholars of all kinds of knowledge. Go to them and take your children with you. Don’t worry if your children tell you they can’t understand anything being said. That is a result of the upbringing you gave them and what they failed to learn in school. Consider it a sign of sickness. That is why you took them there, to stretch their minds and to expose them to the expanse of knowledge. What you hear today and don’t understand gets stored in the memory and comes to your aid years later at unexpected moments. You need to change your habits and your social life. If your social life consists of attending random weddings and re-eating biryani then none of what I have said will be possible. You have to do first what you want your children to do. Make no mistake. To give you must first have.

Anticipate

Learn to read the signs both in your children and in the environment and prepare for them by being proactive. Combative and harsh attitudes usually get negative results. You need to be able to reason and convince, not force. To reason and convince you need to have knowledge and be convinced yourself. Brings us back to reading. Another great resource is the company of wise people. Wisdom begins with Taqwa so people who disobey Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), by definition, can’t be wise, though they may have some skills or some specific knowledge. Seek the company of the Muttaqoon who obey Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and follow the Sunnah of His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

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Monitor your conversations. Monitor your company. Who do you meet with your children? Who are your children exposed to? What are they likely to learn from them? Make sure you keep the right company and expose your children to the right company. Most children today spend time with their own age groups. The question is, what can a fifteen year old teach another fifteen year old? Children need the company of wise and knowledgeable elders to learn life skills. This is how mammals learn – from elders. As the urdu saying goes, “Sohbat say Sahaba banay.” The Sahaba learnt from the sohbat (companionship) of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Our children are starved of the sohbat of wise elders and the tragedy is that most are not even aware of what they are losing.

Create

Now that you have an idea of the challenges ahead and you have anticipated how some of them are likely to touch you and your children, create solutions. Teach tools because your answers don’t work anymore. Teach tools because they are timeless and can be applied to all kinds of problems. Among the most important tools are:

  1. How to connect to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)
  2. The power of dua
  3. Disciplined living
  4. Drive for excellence
  5. Managing money – earn/not spend
  6. Take ownership – no excuses
  7. Structured thinking
  8. Focused reading
  9. Social graces and manners
  10. Humility – No arrogance

Execute

Finally, execute and implement, because only results can be banked, as the saying goes. You must create a schedule to impart these skills and knowledge to your children. Parenting is a contact sport. You can’t outsource it, no matter how competent the care taker. And remember that children listen with their eyes. If you don’t wake up for Fajr it is no good telling your child to pray Tahajjud. If you don’t read, the child will not read. And if he reads because his teacher inspires him to do so, soon he will know more than you and that is shameful. Remember you signed up to raise your children the day you decided to have them. Whatever you did until now, it is time to take stock and ask yourself what you need to change. It is eye-opening if you ask your children what they learned from you. I began this series of lectures by asking you how many of you had one of their parents as their role model and you know the pathetic result. Ask if you want your children to think the same? If not, the time to change is now.

It is simply not enough to feed, clothe and ‘gadgetize’ your children and then leave them to their own devices except to refill their bellies or accounts. You have to get serious with their upbringing.

7 promised shade

For the children an even more critical message: Remember that one of the seven who Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) promised the shade of His Arsh on the day when there will be no shade except His, is the youth who grew up in obedience to Him. So this is a very critical time in your life. This is the power of the multiplier. During this stage every action of yours has a far higher reward than the reward of older people doing the same thing. Everything you do that is obedience of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and the sunnah of His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and every temptation you reject because it is against the order of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) or the sunnah of His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) will take you closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), make your dua more accepted and be a witness for you on the Day of Judgement. This period of grace will end when you grow older. So focus on making the best of this time and don’t lose this period of grace to please some loser who claims to be your friend.

The effect of friends, both positive and negative can’t be overemphasized. It is huge. I constantly hear the lament after a final exam, “I only got so many marks.” My question is, ‘”Why? Did they run out of stock?” Their answer is, “Friends. My friends who I gave more time to than to my studies.” I say to you, “Wake up! Convert your friend to your way of being or delete him from your list. You can’t afford losers as friends, no matter how cool they look. So get serious. We only live once. Let us live it right.”

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Mirza Yawar Baig is the Founder & President of Yawar Baig & Associates. He is an international speaker, coach, trainer and facilitator, specializing in leadership in family businesses.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Reema

    April 27, 2015 at 5:10 PM

    What an insightful post. It has me thinking of how I need to raise my children in a society centered around and dominated by technological advances. While I don’t want to constantly police their activities (I believe this is counterproductive), I want to ensure that they use social media and technology responsibly. As you say, today’s parent must be particularly well-versed in the language of technology in order to educate and protect their children. This is a challenge we must all face head-on. Thank you for your post.

  2. Umm A

    April 28, 2015 at 9:35 PM

    Assalamualaikum, and SubhaanAllah Shaikh!

    Very well said. I have thought similar thoughts in a disorganized fashion quite a bit. It’s a constant struggle for me to avoid the compulsion of repeatedly checking my phone or email which ends up compromising my productivity, and yet am so grateful that Allah Ta’Ala has made it so easy to acquire knowledge.

    I was slightly taken aback when I read this statement though – like the nurse in the operating theatre or the butcher in the abattoir, the sight of another’s suffering leaves us untouched. I work/train in the field of critical care medicine, and yes, the visceral reaction to blood or obvious pain blunts to a degree, but without that kind of acclimatization, no one would last in the field. It also does not translate into a lack of compassion. And I also assume that a butcher is not heartless, and neither are all the many meat-loving Muslims :) I am sure the intentions were ‘nek’.

    • Susan Harr

      May 12, 2015 at 4:16 PM

      Well said. A nurse or a surgeon has to steel her/himself against feeling queasy at the sight of blood, incisions and so on, but this does not entail or imply a lack of care and compassion for the patient in his/her hands; rather, it means to rise above the self-engrossed squeamishness of the medically untrained so as to be able to do what is necessary in the interests of the patient.

  3. Sadaf

    May 1, 2015 at 3:10 AM

    Excellent, eye-opening post! Very well-articulated.
    بَارَكَ اللهُ فِيكَ Shaikh Yawar.

  4. Hibaysh

    May 1, 2015 at 11:07 AM

    “Without understanding application we have the pathetic situation of our children going to school for 15 years and coming out completely innocent of anything remotely useful. Their minds are filled with disconnected pieces of information that are, perhaps, individually useful but because they never learnt the relationships or how to use that information in real life, they lose all interest in the subject itself. In the real world they are completely incapable of survival, let alone being able to influence, guide, command or even earn a decent living. Fifteen years of schooling only puts them on the threshold of another decade of studying to qualify to stand in the line for a job.

    What never ceases to amaze me is how the insanity of it doesn’t strike anyone and we still continue to donate serious amounts of money to the system that does nothing for us. ”

    This. Haqq right there.

    Excellent article, very well put together.

  5. Wajahat

    May 1, 2015 at 2:58 PM

    MashaÁAllah. Good post. May Allah guide us to choose spouse as per the guidelines of beloved prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), as guardianship of children starts from there. Also we should hold fast tge Book of Allah and Seerah of Prophet and fiqh of deen. Ameen

  6. Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena

    May 2, 2015 at 9:03 AM

    Kindly permit me to use your articles at our educational forums.
    WasSalaam.
    Haji Abdul Kareem Nandasena – Sri Lanka.

  7. Abdul

    May 2, 2015 at 12:04 PM

    Barrakallah fikm…outstanding article worth everyone’s sight.

  8. mariam

    May 5, 2015 at 11:11 PM

    really good point. May I suggest some real tips to follow. Parenting tips from
    http://www.simpletips4mom.com/?cat=38
    They have some easy to follow project to deal with in the long run the problem with hardening of the heart. May Allah(swt) protect us and our children from that. ameen.
    JazakaAllah khair

  9. Susan Harr

    May 12, 2015 at 4:20 PM

    A deeply thought out article, and expressing many views that I myself hold, though I am not Muslim. As an English teacher of over forty years’ experience, and having had a wonderful, innocent childhood myself, unblighted by this barrage of shallow information and technological wizardry, I really do pity the children of today. I am of a generation which did not even have television – until I was twelve and we got one to watch the Queen’s coronation!

    • Mirza Yawar Baig

      July 27, 2020 at 11:16 PM

      Sadly so-called Old World values have been cast aside. There is no old and new with respect to human values. Manners, respect, compassion, kindness, integrity and courage are all timeless and apply to all of us, Muslim or not. I wish we can convey this in all that we say and more importantly in all that we do. Children (and everyone) listen with their eyes.

  10. Stardusty Psyche

    May 14, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    Brother Mirza,
    Indeed, there is no substitute for one on one parental contact. Not day care, not a babysitter, not after school programs, not a computer, not a smartphone…a human parent.

    There is no substitute.

    Unfortunately, two career families and divorce are the driving forces that lead to outsourcing.

    I would repeal so called no-fault divorce, which is another way of saying groundless divorce. If a couple has minor children they should have to stay married unless there is abusiveness in the house that makes divorce truly the lesser of evils for the child.

    Parental happiness is irrelevant. Parents seem to think they are entitled to personal happiness at the expense of their children. The law says they are. I say they are not.

    Thank you for your article.

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