Our Lord is The Most Merciful, and Our Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalam was the most merciful person to his people, especially to his family. And so this is the accepted Sunnah from each one of us, as Muslims. Mercy is the essence of Islam. We should be Merciful and kind to our children. Just as Charity starts at home, so does Mercy. What is the point when we are kind, loving and show compassion to people outside home, and we do not make it a policy at home upon which many other family values depend upon!
A'isha Radhiyallahu anha reported that Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalam said: Allah is kind and gentle. He loves kindness in all affairs. (Bukhari, Muslim and many others)
She also narrated: Kindness is not found in anything, but it add beauty to it, and if it is withdrawn from anything, it defects it. (Albaani)
It was narrated that Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalam said: Alah will not have mercy on one who does not have mercy on others". (Muslim)
We should be merciful not only to our kids, the husband and wife should also show Mercy to each other from which the children can reflect upon. They should not detect a least bit of harshness in their parents' relationship.
The popular hadeeth of Our Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalam: The best among you is the one who is best with his family, and among you, I am the best to my family. (Albaani).
This does not mean that we cannot be firm with them. Parents can maintain firmness and mercy while implementing "tarbiyah" (Islamic nurturing) with their kids. The husband and wife should do shu'raa (consultation with each other) to decide what is best for the children, and not fight about it in front of them. They should help each other in the running of the home. The tarbiyah of the kids, the house chores etc. should be shared between both the parents. All these things reflect Mercy, and helps in being content at the end of the day. It lessens the stress that the mother would have to go through alone. At the same time, the wife (mother) shouldn't take advantage of this and leave everything to her husband.
As parents, we cannot rely on the fact that we are loving them through our actions, and so the kids will know that we love them. There should be verbal and physical affection and love towards them. Hug them, pamper them, pat them, kiss them, greet them lovingly with "Assalamu Alaikum" even if they are no more babies or toddlers. We should be nice to them, the way we are to the other kids who we meet once in a while. Our own kids are more deserving of that kind of affection.
A parent should be a friend, a playmate, an advisor, a comforter, a child, a sibling, a teacher etc. We should not feel shy or reluctant to put ourselves in these shoes. Our children should always feel comfortable to be with us, and disclose their feelings to us. When kids come and tell us they did something wrong, we should appreciate them for sharing it with us, before we reprimand them, scold or advise them. This will encourage honesty. We should always remember that we were also in their places not long ago. If we believe that as our parents, we can control them without Mercy, then we are wrong. All human beings, adults or kids are prone to making mistakes once in a while. Who shouts at us when we make mistakes? Who is there to make a big fuss when we break a cup or a glass of milk spills from our hands? No child will do these things on purpose. We should just warn them to be careful about such accidents, and get them to help in cleaning up after a mess.
Jaabir Ibn Abdullah Radhiyallahu anh narrated that he heard the Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalam as saying: The one who is deprived of leniency is deprived of all good". (Muslim)
Ibn Abbas Radhiyallahu anh reported as having The Prophet say to Ashaj Abdul Qais: You possess two qualities that Alah loves. These are forbearance and leniency. (Muslim)
When family talk is going on, make each member of the family, from the eldest to the youngest, feel important. Give a chance to everyone to have a say. Address them with beautiful names always. This is a way to show respect even to one's own kids, and hence, they will learn to be respectful to us, in return inshAllah. The Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalm, even when he gave advices, would address them lovingly. When Jaabir Radhiyallahu anh was young and Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalm was teaching him the proper manners of eating, he said, "Ya bunayy (oh my dear son), mention Allah's name, eat with your right hand and eat from the closest part of the dish to you". And this is also like how Luqman Al-Hakeem advised his son, by using the phrase "Ya bunayy" (Surah Luqmaan: 13)
It is natural to get angry, after all, we are human and have emotions, and anger is an emotion that is a weapon for shaytan. Our Prophet Sallallahu alihiwassalm gave us tips on how to control anger.
Narrated by Abu Dharr Radhiyallahu anh: Allah's Messenger said, "When one of you becomes angry while standing he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down." (Ahmed, Tirmidhi) There are other remedies too that Rasoolullah taught us: drink water, perform Wudu(ablution) and most importantly, seek refuge with Allah from the Shaytan (A'oodhu billahi mina shaytani rajeem).
With the infinite sources of stress factors today, sometimes we tend to ignore the feelings of our little ones with the little hearts. We become so oblivious to their emotions, and this in turn, causes a drift between us and them. In order to avoid that, the mother who stays home to take care of her kids, should give herself "Time-out"s and just relax herself with the remembrance of Allah (Tasbeeh, listening to Qur'an etc). The mother should take care of her health and be given time to take care of herself. She should not obsess herself with the task of feeding her children alone, and eating herself only after her kids eat, instead she should also eat nutritious food and take plenty of fluids. We should try to be in a state of wudu at all times, as wudu helps to relax our nerves. The father who goes out to work (or even mothers) should relax himself before entering his house. He might have had a stressful day, but that is not a justification in behaving angrily and clumsily with his children. The kids wait all day to meet their parents with high expectations. So once the father parks his car, he should relax by saying some tasbeeh, listening to Qur'an, drinking some water and then entering his home with a smile and hugs and kisses to give his children.
All this being said and reflected upon, it is still difficult at times to maintain our cool and for this, I came up with a "Mercy Chart". Mark on it each time you get angry. One can design his/her own chart according to one's weaknesses. InshAllah, this will help you. It helped me, and nowadays, I do not even use it.
May Allah SWT guide us to give the best Islamic environment possible and develop a good atmosphere at home inshAllah. And I pray that Allah blesses my parents and show them mercy always, and guide them always. Alhamdulillah, I am what I am today because of them. Shukr Allah.....