PARENTING

The Day I Taught My Kids a Lesson

I was fed-up! It must have been the 2000th time I went to my kids’ room and witnessed a sight close to a tornado aftermath. There were toys mixed with clothes, clean clothes mixed with dirty clothes, an overflowing laundry basket (that I had emptied a few days ago), and as for board game pieces, let me not go there.

Well, this was the day I had enough. No more chances, no more begging, no chore charts, no reminding, and no more pleading with my kids to clean their rooms. Today was the day my kids were going to learn a life lesson.

I wanted my kids to realize what they had, and if I had to show them in a certain way – so be it. I’m usually a pretty easygoing mom and it takes a lot to push me over the edge, but this time I felt abused by my own kids.

As parents, we should consider how we are treated by our children and not only how we treat our kids. Children are not entitled to get new clothes, toys, and games, and then treat their stuff with disregard of their parents’ generosity. It’s sinful to give our kids so much that they do not appreciate what they have. We may have to answer for overindulging our children, so it comes down to what are we teaching them?

What did I do?

I took out a box of big garbage bags and told my kids to fill one bag with toys and stuff, another with pants, another with tops and so on. This would make it easy to pack out again when needed. I made my kids bring everything to our family room and crossed my fingers hoping no visitors showed up unexpectedly. I explained to my children calmly what I was doing and why, and that they could do without their stuff for an indefinite period of time.

I know this was more work for me, and the sight of multiple garbage bags in my living room was not a pretty sight, but there was a lesson to be learned that overcame my need for home decor. I did give all my kids a week’s worth of clothes to wash and wear – but that’s it.

At first, my children thought it wasn’t a big deal and actually enjoyed the scarcity in their rooms. Then as days went by, they wanted to play with something and realized that they didn’t have the toy or game they wanted. After a while, my older kids got tired of wearing the same outfits especially the girls and didn’t think the sanction was cool any longer.

It felt right to do at this point in our lives when my kids needed to see their barakah (blessings). They had reached a state of not appreciating what they had, which was shame on me as a parent, and displeasing to our Lord. At the beginning, I was so fed up that I wanted to take all their toys away, except for one, and most of their clothes, to give to charity. But when I calmed down and noted that they were feeling the lesson, mercy set in and I thought it was time to give them another chance.

However, I didn’t give them everything back. I let them choose some of their best and most loved toys and clothes. I bagged the rest and took the remaining toys and clothes to give to charity. My children didn’t miss much of their stuff like I thought and were happy to have less stuff to take care of. I knew that over the years, I had bought more than they needed, so this was a lesson for me as well, and alhamdulillah we all learned something valuable.

I am not saying that what I did will cure my children of their untidiness and ingratitude, but the drastic lesson impacted our family. My children realized what they had, and I learned to buy less stuff. Maybe one day we’ll need another refresher to remember our blessings, but for now, it will stay with us for a while.

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