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Parenting and Training of Children in a Right Way

The duty of every parent is to train -teaching, guiding and producing required changes- the child in the right way.

The duty of every parent is to train the child in the right way. Training means teaching and guiding. Training also means producing required changes in a person. It is not enough for parents to cater for the physical needs of the child. They need to give the child an awareness and knowledge, help him gain good characteristics, and develop a virtuous personality. Such training of children has great benefits for the child as well as for the society in which he lives. Although many people have an influence on the training of a child, the first and most important trainers are the parents.

The guidance that a parent gives his child is vital for the progress of the child. Although the child may not appreciate it at the time, a loving parent knows that it is incumbent upon him to make his child learn from his own knowledge and experience. This enables the child to avoid the mistakes the parent may have made, and benefit from his wisdom. Imam ‘Ali (a) wrote a will to his son Imam Hasan (a), advising him on how to live in this world. In the will he explains why he felt it necessary to advise his son:

I found you a part of myself, rather I found you my whole, so much that if anything befell you, it was as though it befell me, and if death came to you, it was as though it came to me. Consequently your affairs meant to me as my own matters would mean to me. So I have written this piece of advice as an instrument of help . . .

Certainly, the heart of a young man is like uncultivated land. It accepts whatever is strewn on it. So I hastened to mould you properly before your heart hardens up and your mind gets occupied. So that you may be ready to accept through your intelligence, the results of experiences of others and be saved from going through these experiences yourself. Nahjul Balagha, Letter 31

Various Definitions of Training

  1. An action or a series of actions carried out on those who have not yet achieved full (physical and emotional) growth, to guide them in their thoughts and manners in order to create a strong and balanced human being.
  2. A process to help the growth of mental and spiritual powers of the human being to go towards perfection.
  3. An informed and thoughtful process which has the aim of guiding, changing, and achieving the full potential of, another.
  4. Raising a human being to be useful and beneficial for society.
  5. Islamic training can be defined as providing the necessary guidance and discipline through awakening potential virtues in the human being, and helping them develop.

Parents train their children throughout the time they are with them. The correct form of training would take into consideration the above definitions of training. This has a significant effect on the children, and can help create a virtuous personality. Inherited traits may be overcome or diminished through training.

Parents as Trainers

Parents have a two fold influence on the characters of their children.

Through Inheritance: Many characteristics are passed on from the genes of the parents to the children. These genes could pass on characteristics of the grandparents and ancestors of the parents. Families share many qualities in common, and the role of inheritance cannot be overlooked. Physical and mental traits are passed on. The physical appearance of the child, his intelligence, his health or the lack of it, are often a result of inheritance.

Through Contact: The first contact the child has with the mother is in the womb. This period of time also has an effect on the child. The physical health of the womb and the mental and emotional health of the mother during pregnancy play an important role.

The most important training however, is done during the years the child spends with the parents. They are his first teachers, They give him an awareness, a world view which will always color his thoughts and opinions. Many great aspirations, courageous behavior, noble manners as well as crooked personalities have been formed as an effect of parents. The first home a child knows should be a source of love and respect for him, a place that has order and arrangement. When a child feels secure and safe in his home and is assured of the love of his parents, he can begin to develop mentally and emotionally.

The most productive years for effective training are the first five years. During this time a child is willing to imitate blindly, and will undoubtedly carry out the actions of his parents. He will pick up behavior and forms of speech that become a part of him. Although it is important to note that this process will continue throughout his forming years, the first few years will form the foundation and base of his character.

During this time he is almost continuously with the parents (except for those who are sent to day-cares etc.). Later on, school, friends and other activities will take him away form the parents for lengthy periods of time. It must also be realized that the role of the mother during this time is more important than the role of the father, as most of the time is spent with her.

Aspects of Training

Many parents would like to train their children in the right way. But they are unsure of what exactly they should do in order to carry out comprehensive and useful training. The following are some aspects of training every parent should cover:

Guidance

A child must be guided towards what is right. This includes teaching of beliefs and actions of religion, good manners, and moral and social values. The child should be taught about healthy ways of living, having good relationships with others, living a useful life in terms of helping and serving others. This type of training is done through talking to the child, showing a good example, sending him to Madrasah and other places of religious learning, involvement with the religious community, and an awareness of the Muslim Ummah.

The age and