Lessons In Raising Kids With Affection And Patience

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I wrote this poem for parents everywhere to remind us not become too busy to show affection to our children.

A parent's life is so fast, and our days fly by quick,

 as we rush and we race to give tasks a tick,

 but during that time, we need to slow down our pace,

 and give our children a hug, a kiss, or embrace.

Being Affectionate Towards Our Children

Have you ever been around your children and realized that you hadn't kissed or hugged them that entire day? It happened to me a few times and it started to bother me a lot. As I lay in bed one night, I realized that it isn't right for a mom to forget to embrace her children at least a few times each day. Nowadays I tell my kids to kiss and hug me as many times as they can during the day, especially when they awaken in the morning and go to sleep at night. My older kids act shy and make it seem like it's a big effort, but I see the smiles they try to hide because they truly love it!

Never underestimate the power of a mother's touch. Your children will listen to you better if you tell them to do something as you stroke their cheek, place your hand on their shoulder or tousle their hair. Too many adults are aloof and stiff from being children that were not hugged and kissed enough themselves (trust me I know a few). Hugging your children is comforting to both parent and child, but sadly forgotten far too much in these busy times. If you make an effort to kiss and hug your children regularly, you will also lose that nagging guilt that some moms feel, thinking they are not doing enough for their kids. It's simple, the results are rewarding, and it's beneficial for both.

I found this beautiful thought-provoking passage to share with you:

I ran into a stranger as she passed by, "Oh excuse me please" was my reply. She said, "Please excuse me too; I wasn't watching for you." We were very polite, this stranger and I. We went on our way and we said goodbye. But at home a different story is told, how we treat our loved ones, young and old. 

Later that day, cooking the evening meal, my son stood beside me very still. When I turned, I nearly knocked him down. "Move out-of-the-way," I said with a frown. He walked away, his little heart-broken. I didn't realize how harshly I'd spoken. 

While I lay awake in bed, a small voice came to me and said, "While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use, but the family you love, you seem to abuse. Go and look on the kitchen floor, you'll find some flowers there by the door. Those are the flowers he brought for you. He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue. He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise, you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes." 

By this time, I felt very small, and now my tears began to fall. I quietly went and knelt by his bed; "Wake up, little one, wake up," I said. "Are these the flowers you picked for me?" He smiled, "I found them out by the tree. I picked them because they're pretty like you. I knew you'd like them, especially the blue." I said, "Son, I'm very sorry for the way I acted today; I shouldn't have yelled at you that way." He said, "Oh, Mom, that's okay. I love you anyway." I said, "Son, I love you too, and I do like the flowers, especially the blue." - Authur Unknown

I thought this poem was such an accurate depiction of our ability to treat strangers better than we treat our children at times. When our kids are young, we take their love for granted and think that it’s okay to be short with them because “they are just kids”. However “these kids” grow up into men and women and the way we treated them as kids, will shape them and be the way they treat their kids.

Prophet Muhammad SAW never held back his love for children and always expressed his fondness for them. Abu Hurairah narrated:

"I went along with Allah’s Messenger (SAW) at a time during the day but he did not talk to me and I did not talk to him until he reached the market of Banu Qainuqa. He came back to the tent of Fatimah and said, “Is the little chap (meaning Al-Hasan) there?” We were under the impression that his mother had detained him in order to bathe him and dress him and garland him with sweet garland. Not much time had passed that he (Al-Hasan) came running until both of them embraced each other, thereupon Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “O Allah, I love him; love him and love one who loves him.” (Muslim)

Anas ibn Malik, the servant of the Prophet SAW had another recollection:

"I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than Allah’s Messenger (SAW). His son Ibrahim was in the care of a wet-nurse in the hills around Madinah. He would go there, and we would go with him, and he would enter the house, pick up his son and kiss him, then come back.” (Muslim)

Narrated Usamah ibn Zaid,

"Allah’s Messenger (SAW) used to put me on (one of) his thighs and put Al-Hasan ibn Ali on his other thigh, and then embrace us and say, “O Allah! Please be merciful to them, as I am merciful to them.” (Bukhari).

The Prophet SAW's love for children was not restricted to his children and grandchildren only. The scope of his mercy and affection embraced all children, and he showed the same interest and gentleness to his Companion’s children. Narrated Abu Hurairah,

"Allah’s Messenger (SAW) kissed Al-Hasan ibn Ali while Al-Aqra ibn Habis At-Tamim was sitting with him . Al-Aqra said, “I have ten children and have never kissed one of them.” The Prophet SAW cast a look at him and said, “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.” (Bukhari)

We constantly reward our children by preparing their food, driving them around, and buying them toys and treats. But nothing is more reassuring to a child than a simple hug, kiss, cuddle, or pat on the back. Physical affection allows our children to enter the world with confidence and an inner strength to cope with the challenges they will face.

One day, I had no idea what to offer my son as a treat for doing a big task for me, so I jokingly said that I would give him a big kiss if he did it. I waited, expecting him to moan and ask for something better, but he seemed pleased and eagerly went about the task. I was taken aback by the simplicity of the reward and the power of affection that we underestimate.

Many parents rely more on sweet words and generous treats to communicate their love and affection to their child, but we should use a combination of verbal love and tender touch. Tenderness stems from affection, and sometimes we act more tender toward our homes, gardens, clothes, cars, and jewelry, and lack this tenderness with our own children.

Affection doesn't take a lot of time and can be easily done while doing your day-to-day activities. Try to gently pat your child on the back as you pass by, stroke their face or hair as you speak, kiss their cheek as you scramble to work in the morning, press your hand to theirs, or touch the back of their neck while they sit at the table eating a meal. What this conveys is, "I'm glad you're here, I love you."  This will speak volumes to your kids and make them feel a sense of security and comfort today and their whole life through inshAllah.

Hug-and-Kiss-Your-Kids.

Being Patient Towards Our Children

If you have young kids around, it seems even harder to concentrate on your ibadaah. Finding khushoo when you perform salah becomes a challenge with little ones. Sometimes the distraction of young kids causes a mother to become upset, and she starts to shush them quiet and scold them away. We often forget that Allah SWT knows the dilemma of raising children, and He is well aware that your intention is to worship Him. He isn't expecting you to do the impossible, so knowing this is good start to ease your distress at salah times.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammed's SAW beautiful example shows us how to handle situations like this. He showed patience and compassion with children during salah. He would shorten the salah upon hearing the cries of a child, knowing it would save the mother from feeling anxious. How considerate subhanAllah! The Prophet SAW said,

(It Happens that) I started prayer intending to prolong it, but on hearing the cries of a child, I shorten the prayer because I know that the cries of the child will incite its mother's passions. (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet SAW would not become irritated by his granddaughter during prayer; He would merely put her down when he prostrated, and carry her when he stood up. Narrated Abu Qatadah:

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) was praying and he was carrying Umaamah the daughter of Zainab, the daughter of the Messenger of Allah. When he prostrated, he put her down, and when he stood, he carried her (on his neck). (Bukhari and Muslim)

In another Hadith reported by Nasaa'i, Ibn Asaakir and Haakim, the Prophet SAW would lengthen his prostration so that his grandson could finish playing on his back. Instead of trying to remove him, the Prophet SAW would wait for him to get tired of using him as a mount. Such a sweet and thoughtful gesture towards a child.

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) came out to us for one of the two later prayers (dhuhr or asr), carrying Hasan or Hussein. The Prophet (SAW) then came to the front and put him down (next to his right foot) said takbir for the prayer and commenced praying. During the prayer, he performed a very long prostration, so I raised my head and there was the child, on the back of the Messenger of Allah (SAW), who was in prostration. I then returned to my prostration. When the Messenger of Allah (SAW) had offered the prayer, the people said: 'O Messenger of Allah! in the middle of your prayer, you performed prostration and lengthened it so much that we thought either something had happened or that you were receiving revelation!' He said: 'Neither was the case. Actually, my son made me his mount, and I did not want to hurry him until he had satisfied his wish.'

The Prophet (SAW) did not find children to be a hindrance to his prayers; he showed much compassion and gentleness to them. Reported by Ibn Khuzaimah and Baihaqi,

"He (the Prophet (SAW)) was praying. When he performed sajdah, Hasan and Hussein jumped onto his back. When the people tried to stop them, he gestured them to leave the two alone. After offering his prayer, he placed them in his lap and said, 'Whoever loves me should love these two.'"

These Hadith make a parent feel better about performing ibadah with children around, especially when they're trying to climb, hang, and do gymnastics as you perform your salah positions. We should keep in mind that when we start to feel our irritation rising by our kids or other kids constant disruption, think of our beloved Prophet's SAW outstanding patience with children.

It is also paramount to leave your children with a beautiful feeling about Islam. At the time of ibadah we should be our most compassionate and endearing so our kids retain positive memories of it instead of associating ibadah with a time to be scolded and told to go away.