Today I’m sharing my parenting style with you.
I’m gaining fame these days. Not because of myself, but because of my daughters. Yes, I’m the proud mother of three star daughters.
They are all grown up now. Nataliya has a photography business in Seattle, and was the first blogger in our family. She is married to a brilliant software engineer. Second one Nadiya has recently moved to Halifax. She is a blogger, career-girl-turned-homemaker. She is married to young multi-talented aero-space engineer who is into data analysis these days. Then there is my youngest daughter Waliya who is a photographer in Islamabad, she runs a successful business of her own.
All three are independent, strong and confident.
Having been a freelance writer for twenty-five years, an educationist for another twenty-five years, and an author of four books; an illustrator and publisher of Iqbal’s Tulip of Sinai, yet, I’m known for being my daughter’s mother!
It feels great, and I love it.:)
Here are links for those who want to know more about them.
I’ve selected links to some of their pages here: You can see the work of my youngest one, Waliya Najib here. and you can see what my second one Nadiya Najib is up to Here . Then, across the world in Seattle is my eldest daughter Nataliya, you will find her page here.
I must have done something right, that Allah has blessed me so much.
Now, many young mothers are asking me ‘how did you do it?’I simply say, ‘they are my Allah’s blessings,’ which is so true.
You are right, there is more to it. 🙂
Parenting rules observed:
- Allah’s greatest blessings: God helped me at every step. I prayed for them a lot. That’s what you do. All the time. God knows, how many times I’d say Tahajjad prayers for them.
- Honoring truth above all else: My children always knew that if they told me the truth, I’d accept it. I’d believe them, as saying the truth has always been respected in our home. (Many times a child doesn’t tell the truth because he is afraid of how you will react.) Well, my child knew, if she was wrong she would receive the due ‘grounding’. But telling the truth would be much appreciated. No cheating, or lying: This wasn’t accepted under any circumstances.
- Honest earnings – Halal income: My husband and I were very conscious about this. We made sure that only earnings from honest hard work would come to our home. Any person trying to give or receive undue favors was not entertained. My daughters know that my savings are not interest based.
- Think in ten-year terms: There were many times when I was firm with them. It is very hard to be so. However, I remembered reading somewhere, that as a parent, I’d like to do what is best for them even it if it is hard and unpleasant now. ‘It isn’t important what they think of me now, as what they will think of me ten years from now!’
- Choosing sons -in-law for their halal earnings: So, this has always been my criteria for choosing a son-in-law too; That, he has had halal food at home, and shall bring halal earnings for my daughter too. (In this world of today, you have to be careful.)
- Well-behaved children: First thing I remember praying, when I was expecting my eldest daughter Nataliya was: ‘Please let me have a well-behaved and well brought up child who cares for others. Rather than having a very beautiful child, who is lovely to look at, but a horror to be with! Frankly, I’d want to run away from a badly brought up child. My husband and I couldn’t stand ‘badtameez’ kids. So, we put in a lot of effort to make them caring and well mannered.
- Three most important things for your child:
- Feeding the child oneself, (preferably till 2.5 years.)
- Teaching them Holy Quran (or which-ever religious book you have) with meanings from the beginning. So they are fully conversant about their religion and have values. Nataliya and Nadiya have gone on to do deeper studies of the religion. I’m happy to say, all three have an authentic base. My friends Seema and Surraya personally made the base for Waliya.
- Saying as many prayers as possible, preferably all five times.
- My devotion to them: Each of my girls knows she is more important to me than anything else in my life. Their well-being has always come first. I’d give up the best job offers, the best opportunities for them. All the jobs I did were done while they were in school. I made sure we came back together.
- Respect for people and developing people skills: At an early age, we groomed them to take the phone, (there were only landlines then,) from an early age. They could entertain a guest and take messages under the age of five years.
- Respect for other’s property: They would be careful not to break decoration pieces in people’s homes, because they knew how to play without spoiling things. They were used to it. In our home, no decoration pieces were shifted due to presence of small child. The kids were used to living in a well decorated home. I gave them stem glasses from an early age, so they were used to proper crockery and cutlery at home. I kept them more involved in their own toys and belongings.
- Music and books: They loved reading books from an early age, because I gave them books as babies. I never encouraged them to tear paper. The written word was respected from an early age. These were a part of our lives. Even the wash room had their favorite books there, along with cots and beds. Singing songs, reading out books and sharing what we were reading with each other was common. Nataliya was one month old when I’d read out the newspaper to her. (Yes, she loved hearing my voice, while I kept myself up to date with what is going on.)
- Sense of Humor: Life is no laughing matter, but one shouldn’t take life too seriously either. Laughing off many things in life is a good way to deal with many major issues. We made sure never to let them laugh at others, but we all laughed together and had a lot of fun.
- Sense of responsibility: I never kept their important papers. Their dad did, or they kept these themselves. I never took the O’level admission paper from Waliya, she took care of the documents herself. If a child lost it, it would be their own loss. (So, they never did!) My friends would often be shocked.
- No special favors: My children also knew, I’ll not take them out of any soup they got into. They would have to fend for themselves. I never used my status in school to benefit them. I never helped them with their homework either. Yes, if needed, I’d explain. Love doesn’t mean that you spoil and spoon feed your child. It is not good for one’s child – neither for their confidence, nor for preparing them for this world.
- I took care of them myself: It is not my mother or mother -in-law’s responsibility to bring up my children. No servant or maid was allowed near them. I did everything for them. I’d keep domestic help for everything, except my children. This meant that I’d never leave them behind in a maid’s care, and took them with me everywhere.
- Keeping them with me mostly: I never left them alone at home if possible. At Dawn office I was known as the writer who comes with her three children, (aged 10, 8 and six months.) I interviewed some of the most famous personalities, having them with me. I’d place my tape recorder in front of the personality and have the questionnaire print out in my hand. Mostly, I’d do my research while the children were in school, or when they went to sleep at nine. When I found out I was expecting Waliya, I left my job as a computer teacher in PAF School, Masroor, Karachi.
- Always criticize in private: So, if anything was done wrongly, I tried to reprimand in a separate room. Not in front of others. Specially, not strangers. However, I did fall short in the fact that many times I did it in front of siblings. Which is very wrong. One must do the admonishing in total privacy. (However, if a child continued to misbehave in public then she got duly reprimanded in public too.)
- When your child confides with you: When a child tells you something in confidence. Keep it confidential from all, that includes rest of family. Otherwise, your child won’t trust you. It is very tempting to share their little confidences with our friends. That isn’t good for one’s relationship with the child. This is probably one of the hardest things to keep to oneself. As kids they are so cute, their issues too are so endearing.
- Praise in public: Praising one’s child’s efforts in front of others is fine. It boosts their confidence. Yet, it should be the truth, not an exaggeration.
- Helping the down trodden: My children grew up seeing kindness in their home at all times. Their father was known in the air force for fighting causes for anyone who did not receive justice in any way. In 2008 when the huge earthquake took place, in Muzaffarabad, my girls and I would travel 50 km daily to PIMS hospital in Islamabad, doing volunteer work for the effected patients. We chose the surgical ward for children which was actually very heartbreaking to work in. I took along my girls, realizing that the effected children were much younger than mine. A very young Waliya went along with us, to chat with the amputees. Then we’d hug each other outside in the corridors and cry. We’d go shopping to get them whatever they needed. Together we got stuff for the trucks going to Muzaffarabad for the homeless.
- Kindness to animals was the norm: All my life I’ve kept pets. We had a dog and a cat in our home at any given time. When my babies were small I didn’t keep any pets in the home. When my children grew to an age of five years, then I’d keep pets. This is when they know the rules of hygiene, and to wash hands after touching them. So, I’m not surprised, when I hear of them taking an injured cat or dog to the vet.
- Travel was a part of our lives: We moved house every year or two, and we traveled a lot otherwise too. We just loved the whole experience of it. Being together is all that mattered to us. I never allowed things like schooling etc. to come between our family being together at all times. You’d be shocked to know, I took my youngest daughter with me to Seattle, just before her A- level exams! I believe, travel teaches you more than you can find in books. Being with loved ones, when they need you is more important than mere academics.
- Independent and capable of handling unexpected situations: They could take care of guests, by entertaining them, laying out food, and serve them. Once Nadiya informed me that she had laid out lunch five time – she wasn’t even eighteen years old then – while different groups of people kept coming over to meet their ‘Daadi‘ (paternal grandmother) who was living with us. Another time, when I got home, Nadiya told me she had got injured, so she called the ambulance, went and got herself treated, before I got home. I admired her for how well she coped.
- Love them completely: It is vital for us to love our children and to express our love for them wholeheartedly. We have to do it with our words and our actions. To love is a verb not a noun. It is a word which has to be lived in many ways. Remember, ‘to love, you need time.’ Without giving your child your time and attention, it is not called love.
Hamza Yousaf once mentioned, in an audio recording, ‘a parent often comes to me saying ‘my child has no respect for me,’ then I ask,
‘Do you respect them?’ and the parent gets shocked. ‘So, how can you expect them to be respectful to you, if you don’t respect them?’ I ask them.’
Leading by example:
We all have to be examples of all that we plan to teach our children. I’m sure you have heard of the case where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was asked by a lady to ask her child to stop having too many sweets. However, he asked her to return the next day. When she came, he said to the child, ‘Have less sweets.’ When she heard this, she asked him why he hadn’t said this the previous day? He answered, ‘till yesterday I, too was taking too many sweet foods.’
So, parenting is more about minding our own selves. Yes, it is so tough. Yet, I believe, our children need to understand that we are human too. We can make mistakes, but as long as we try to improve ourselves, and help them improve themselves too, it is fine.
So, have I answered your questions? If not. Let me know. Yes, parenting is the most challenging, mind-boggling, horrifying, terrifying, wonderful, amazing, miraculous, fabulous job on earth – but then, nothing else is as rewarding either!
Its all about trust. Trusting your God who trusted you with His greatest creation. Trusting yourself to be worthy of that trust. Then, to trust your children, as His creations. Finally, trusting your own upbringing.
Stay blessed, my wonderful Readers.