Front of the Children!
Many times parents and adults do things intentionally or unintentionally that may set a bad example to their children and other youngsters around. Below would be some such situations and advises on how to set a better example for your youngsters.
Setting Bad Examples for Children
"Tell them I'm not here," we yell to our spouse or children as the telephone rings. Although we might no have noticed it, we have just set an example of lying for our children. When they see us lying, they may say to themselves that it's okay to lie. Dad and mom do it.
If we had been more conscious of our role as an example for our children, we could have avoided this mistake by using a caller ID; by telling our spouse or our children to say that we were unavailable to talk now, not that we were not at home; or by simply taking the call. But we should never lie.
Many other "little" things that we do during the day may actually be setting bad examples for our children without our even realizing it. Remaining constantly aware of our role as an example might help us to avoid making some of these mistakes. However, there are several danger areas in our daily lives that we should be especially careful about.
Here are some thoughts about providing a better role model:
We should never make
false promises to our children.
For example, we should never tell them, "I will take you for ice cream if you are good," when we have no intention of taking them for ice cream. This is also lying, and if we do it, our children may lose confidence in everything we say.
Don't Argue with Spouse in Front of Children
What must it feel like for children to see their mother and father yelling at each other and even hitting each other. What horror they must feel at that time. And how will they know what to do afterward? Can they ever go back to the same loving relationship with their father and mother after watching them abuse each other? If we do make the mistake of arguing or fighting in front of our children and then we make up later, we should be sure to include the children and even apologize to them for our immature and un-Islamic behavior. InshaAllah, they will respect us even more for admitting that we were wrong.
We should never make fun of others.
If we say, "Hey, look at that ugly guy over there! Ha! Ha! Ha!," our children may think that this is acceptable behavior. Afterward, if they publicly say something bad about somebody and we or that person gets embarrassed, we should remember that we are the ones who taught them to behave this way.
We should never gossip
or speak evil about others behind their backs.
Even though they might not hear us, our children will. They are watching us eat the dead flesh of our brothers and sisters, and it could affect them in many ways. They might simply begin to believe that this is normal behavior, or they might be extremely disgusted with their parents for behaving in this way. Either way our children will be negatively influenced.
We should never watch TV programs or listen
to radio programs that we know we shouldn't.
Later, when we tell our children not to watch kissing or violence on TV, they will see us as hypocrites and lose respect for us.
As Muslims, we should of course try to be the best human beings we can possibly be. As Muslim parents, we must try even harder because our behavior will very likely have a major impact on the behavior of our children now and when they grow up. It's not what mom and dad say; it's what mom and dad do.
Raising kids is an incredible responsibility. If we want to succeed, we must raise them with both words and actions. As human beings, we will at times do wrong and make mistakes. But please, NEVER IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN!
By Ibrahim Bowers
© Sound Vision Foundation 1998
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