Today, most of us live in a mixed community of all kinds of people. Our kids are exposed to the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, The Islamic and the Non-Islamic. Especially for Muslim parents living in the west, it has become a big challenge in raising children, and as parents, we are constantly worried about where to draw the limits. (Oh well, it is a challenge everywhere, because unfortunately, the western culture is spreading to the East too- so it cannot be called "Western" anymore- because certain kinds of people pride themselves in aping the West.)
We cannot always keep saying "NO" to our kids, as that won't satisfy their curious minds and hence, they will become rebellious. They need explanations, and if they are too young for that, then they need alternatives.
It was narrated that Anas ibn Maalik Radhiyallahu anh said: "During the Jaahiliyyah, the people had two days each year when they would play. When the Prophet Sallallahualihiwassalam came to Madeenah he said, 'You had two days on which you would play, but Allah has given you something better than them: the day of al-Fitr and the day of al-Adha." (Narrated by Abu Dawood, An-Nasaa'i- Classified as Sahih by Sheikh Albaani)
From this hadeeth, we see that the sunnah of Allah SWT and His Prophet was to give a suitable alternative for recreation rather than simply laying down a prohibition. We should apply this technique with our kids as much as we can. This will help us in raising happier children, who will be proud to be Muslims, inshAllahu tha'ala.
Some points I can think of:
- Television and the Internet, is perhaps the biggest fitnah today for ourselves and our kids. The eyes of the one who watches it, be it a kid or an adult, is glued to it, and he/she becomes completely oblivious to the surroundings.
There are certain safe kids' cartoons and other programmes that are slow paced, and educative. The fast paced cartoons are not good for the brain development of the kids, even according to the American Pediatrics Association. Apart from these, we can also give them better alternatives that will educate them in their dheen, in a fun way. Alhamdulillah, for this, we have videos of Prophets' stories and other stories that teach Islamic mannerisms and morals. Even this practice should not be one where the kids are passively involved. We should sit with them, and discuss the stories, and talk to them while they watch.
- Music attracts everybody, and therefore, it is a "shaytan" in itself. By music, I mean the music of the pop culture etc. (and I am not saying that it is haram or halal, but just giving a better alternative.) Let them listen and learn Nasheeds, and beautiful Adhkaar of Allah SWT and Rasoolullah. Sing Dhikr for them, in tunes they will enjoy.
- Involve them in the work you do at home. Get them to help you in ways that are interesting to them, every child is different, and so, there is no rule for this; we just have to find new ways with them, that will make work a play for them. Result: you get the help that is needed, they learn family values like sharing household chores, and most importantly, they are occupied.
- Take them to Aquariums, Zoos, gardens and other nature places where they can appreciate the creation of Allah SWT. Say "SubhanAllah" aloud. (Alhamdulillah, we have a better way of saying "wow"!) Let them love the animals and be fascinated by them rather than dinosaurs etc. Seriously, do not encourage them to have a fascination of dinosaurs that don't even exist, and probably never did, and is just a theory that is against Islamic teachings. (Remember its part of the evolution theory.) When taking them outdoors, these places are better than artificial man-made wonders like amusement parks etc.(not that I am against it, and inshAllah I will have to do so too as my kids get older.)
- Take them for hiking, picnics, camping etc. While camping, remind yourself and your kids that camping is what the less privileged kids do all their life. Camping can be fun once in a year or lifetime, but it sure is not fun, if it was an everyday thing. Let them be thankful for the homes they live in, alhamdulillah.
All these activities might not be something new, or something only Muslims do. But what I am trying to say to myself and all others is, "Islamicize" every moment in your life, remember Our Lord Azza Wajal in everything we do, and make it a habit for our kids too. Let them really love Allah and Islam. And then let's pray for the best, and that Allah guides us and our children always.