Forty Ethical (Akhlaq) Points on Interacting with your Child
1. Give gifts to your daughter(s) first.
2. Play with your children. This has an important effect in the training and nurturing of your child. Our leaders in Islam have stressed the importance of this issue, and recommended it highly to Muslims.
It is narrated from the Prophet (s): “The person who has a child, should behave like a child with him.” It is also narrated from Imām ‘Alī (as): “Anybody who has a child, should, for his/her training, bring themselves down to their level of childhood.”
3. Do not hit your child when they cry, because it is narrated from the Prophet (s): “Do not hit your babies since their crying has a meaning. The first 4 months of crying is professing the unity of Allāh (swt), the second 4 months of crying is sending blessings upon the Prophet (s) and his family and the third 4 months of crying is the baby praying for the parents.”
4. Kiss your child. It has been narrated from one of the Imāms that: “Kiss your children a great deal because for every kiss, you will be granted a Divine heavenly rank which would otherwise take 500 years to achieve!”
It is also narrated that a man once came to the Prophet (s) and said: “I have never kissed my child.” The Prophet (s) said: “Surely a man like this will be a resident of the fire of hell.”
5. By saying Salām to your child, build their sense of personality and character. If youngsters say Salām, it is obligatory for elders to reply; however, it was a characteristic of the Prophet (s) to say Salām first, whether to elders or youngsters.
6. Do not ridicule the actions of your child, nor call them silly.
7. Do not order or forbid your child too much, as this emboldens them and leads to rebellious behaviour when older.
8. Build your children’s characters by respecting them. We read in traditions that the Prophet (s) prolonged his sajdah until his grandson came down from his shoulders, and at other times he recited Salāt al-Jamā’at faster as he heard children of praying mothers crying. Likewise, Imām ‘Alī (as) used to ask his children questions about religious matters in the presence of others, and even passed on people’s questions to them to answer.
When parents don’t satisfy the natural urges and desires of the child, the child then resorts to wrong ways and means (often linked to sin) to try and give himself the necessary push to build his sense of self and importance. Personality, independence, will, self-trust, and likewise, weakness, baseness and lack of self-trust are all characteristics the foundations of which are in the lap of the father and bosom of the mother. A child who has not been treated like another human being or a valuable member of the family cannot be expected to have a well formed personality in adulthood.
9. Keep your promises. Keeping promises in Islam is a sign of one’s faith, and Allāh (swt) mentions it in the Qur’an.
وَأَوْفُوا بِالْعَهْدِ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْؤُولاً
“And fulfil the covenants; indeed all covenants are accountable.”
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِأَمَانَاتِهِمْ وَعَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُونَ
“And those who keep their trusts and covenants.”
Keeping promises is one of the pillars of the prosperity of mankind and one of the best qualities of one’s Akhlāq, its base lying in one’s raising and training. It is narrated from the Prophet (s): “Like your children and treat them with affection and kindness. When you make a promise to them, you must keep it, because children consider you their sustainer.”
10. For the sexual training of children, the parents must first teach their children not to enter their bedroom without asking permission. Allāh (swt) has pointed to this important point in Surat Nūr, Verse 58:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِيَسْتَأْذِنُكُمُ الَّذِينَ مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا الْحُلُمَ مِنكُمْ ثَلاَثَ مَرَّاتٍ مِن قَبْلِ صَلاَةِ الْفَجْرِ وَحِينَ تَضَعُونَ ثِيَابَكُم مِّنَ الظَّهِيرَةِ وَمِنْ بَعْدِ صَلاَةِ الْعِشَاء ثَلاَثُ عَوْرَاتٍ لَّكُمْ
“O you who have faith! Let your permission be sought by your slaves and those of you who have not reached puberty three times: before the dawn prayer, and when you put off your garments at noon, and after the night prayer. These are three times of privacy for you.”
It is also recommended to keep a close watch and control over their actions with others and prevent those actions that increase one’s sexual instinct (e.g. going out in mixed gatherings). It is important to mention that their curiosity is very high in childhood. In addition, they are very sensitive to what they watch and see, and fearlessly want to put it into action and try it out for themselves, without knowing or thinking that what they are doing may not be right.
Some useful points to be noted
a. Mothers should be careful that when tending to the cleanliness of their children (e.g. giving them baths), even newborns, other children are not present, especially those who are of a different gender.
b. From childhood, parents should not play with the child’s genital organs, or even their chest and thighs.
c. Never leave children alone or in private for long periods of time and when they are going through an inquisitive phase. It is also not recommended to leave them unattended with someone else during this time, especially a brother or sister.
d. Do not let girls of 6 years sit on a non-mahram man’s lap or be kissed by non-mahram men.
e. Do not let girls be naked in front of others. In particular, their chests and thighs should be covered.
f. Create love for Salāt in your child, as Allāh (swt) clearly states in the Noble Qur’an that Salāt makes one far from ugly acts.
إِنَّ الصَّلاَةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ
“Indeed the prayer prevents indecencies and wrongs.”
11. Spoiling a child creates weakness, and a lack of will and determination. These types of children trouble their parents in their childhood, and make them encounter many problems.