There is a beautiful reality that we never reflect upon. It’s a message from the Creator (swt) for His creation: “Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit, and whoever brings an evil deed shall have only the recompense of the like thereof and they will not be wronged.” (Al-Anam 6:160)

Parents must understand what win-win is in Islam

What needs to be clearly believed by us and shared with our children is:

  1. Each and every one of us has a purpose in this world. Allah’s (swt) plan has no extras in it. We all fall into a jigsaw puzzle, the winners and the losers. Don’t forget that the Prophet (sa) also experienced the Battle of Badr and Battle of Uhud. The fate of both was contrasting, as were the lessons learnt.
  2. Allah (swt) offers abundance to His creations in terms of opportunities, resources, and choices. It is up to us to grab them and decide our future course of action.
  3. These opportunities come along throughout our lives. We need to be patient, alert, and positive. This is the toughest challenge most of us fail. The disappointed and hopeless one disgraces himself by his defeatist attitude and misses out on other doors opening for him.
  4. In Allah’s (swt) world, everyone can be a winner. But you need to see yourself from the eyes of the Akhirah. The parameters and standards of the world are changing, deceptive, and not necessarily correct.
  5. Allah (swt), unlike His creations, judges people by their genuine struggles and rewards accordingly the patient ones. People, on the other hand, reward on basis of performance and not the strife one has been through.
  6. Once a winner will not always be a winner, as it is Allah’s (swt) Sunnah that whatever goes up must come down. It is the nature of Dunya. Similarly, once a loser may not always be a loser provided he or she makes principled choices in life and perseveres hopefully.
  7. The message of abundance from Allah (swt) can be best understood when we observe the glorious sun generously lighting up the world or the wind freely blowing for all. They actually benefit the sinners, disbelievers, and mischief makers, as much as they offer advantage to the obedient believers. Allah (swt) does not hold back His bounties.
  8. The question that we must frequently ask ourselves is: what can we do for others? How can we serve them? It is best to begin this behaviour at home with family and then extend it further to friends and community.
  9. Nobody is a permanent failure, until his or her parents start believing that and make the child known. In such case, they are causing Khayanat with the Amanah Allah (swt) placed with them. They were to nurture this being under their stewardship.
  10. Prayers help. Following every win or loss, let your child hear you pray peacefully for his success and guidance in the Dunya and Akhirah. Teach your child to do so also for himself, so his centre shifts to Allah (swt) and his vision broadens. He will tie his camel, then place his trust with Allah (swt), and accept the results gracefully.

Problems arising when adults do not play win-win

  1. Some adults are negative competitors raised in a win-lose environment. Hence, they place pressures and stress over children to win at any cost. Their love equates to the results the child delivers at school, at a game, or anywhere. Nothing can be more hurtful for this poor child.
  2. Children in such homes learn that their true value lies only in winning. They must never be happy for anyone else’s triumph. Resources are limited, and opportunities are scarce. Allah (swt) is unfair and not on their side. Hence, they do what was done at the Titanic tragedy. No one would have drowned, had the concept of abundance been realized and executed accordingly.
  3. They fail to see good in struggles. They are quick to complain, criticize, and judge. Their vision of success narrows down to grades, numbers, trophies, and awards. The success that lies in learning from failure or loss goes unnoticed. These are traits of a weak and materialistic person.
  4. Once such selfishly raised kids assume power, they are likely to throw off board their own parents first who will not be useful for them for long.

Five elements of creating a win-win agreement

Steven Covey, the late author of the best-selling series of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, shared a remarkable strategy. Parents for the longest time have been trying to teach kids what a win-win strategy is. But mostly both parents and kids end up frustrated. There are unclear goals, assumptions on both sides, and unfulfilled expectations. This leads to major withdrawals from a person’s emotional bank account.

The consultant advised to invest early on in empowering the child, rather than doing so at a later stage when ill consequences surface. The elements of a win-win agreement are:

1) Showing desired results

2) Offering clear guidelines

3) Providing resources

4) Establishing accountability

5) Owning the consequences

The story of the garden

A father wanted to tend to his garden but, due to extensive travelling and time constraints, he was unable to. His son volunteered to do so for him. The father was thrilled and decided to use the above strategy to train his son. He took his son over to their neighbour’s lawn and showed it to him. It was clean and green. So the father showed his son the desired result that he expected.

Next, he guided his son to use sprinklers, the hose, or a bucket for watering the grass to keep it green. All trash, twigs, leaves, and paper wrappers were to be picked up to make it look clean. So these were clear guidelines.

Following that, the father told his boy that he was the boss and will tend to the garden, as he pleased. The father will be his helper, whenever he would be around. The son will tell him what the father needed to do. That was his total resource.

Twice every week they both will stroll down the garden to assess it. That will tell them how it was coming along. The judgement will be based on ‘a green and clean garden’, and the son will be judging his own work.

Lastly, the father trained his son for two weeks and then delegated the job to him. For the next ten days, the son did nothing. His father was shocked and the garden started to look like wild shrubbery. He saw his boy play on the street one evening, as he was returning from work. The father was tempted to grab him and tell him to pick up all the garbage and work on the yard. That would get him the golden egg but what about the goose – the commitment he wanted to see his son internalize?

The father decided to ask his son to take that stroll in the garden they were supposed to, as planned earlier. As they walked side by side, the son’s chin quivered and tears welled up. His voice grew shaky. “It’s so hard,” he said.

The father angrily thought to himself, “What is so hard? You haven’t done anything.” But slowly he realized that self-management and self-supervision is what his son found challenging.

“How can I help?” the father asked gently.

“Will you help?” the son sniffed.

“Of course, wasn’t that what I told you earlier?”

“You said when you will have the time.”

“I have the time. And you must ask me next time, so I can tell you, if I am busy or available. You never asked!” The father explained.

“Okay then, please, help me clean up. Let me get the garbage bag.”

The son dashed inside and brought out two trash bags, and in no time, the lawn was picked. The father did exactly as he asked to. That day the son signed an agreement in his heart. He only asked his father for help a few more times that summer, and then he was on his own.

Now it’s his garden, greener and cleaner than ever before.

This is a simple example of daily home chores that usually turn into fierce battles. Kids will lose and they will fail initially and repeatedly. But the idea is not to get frustrated or disappointed. Do not nag or keep reminding them because then it is really not their responsibility, and they expect reminders for a job they were supposed to do pro-actively.

A life driven by the win-win strategy is the life of our dear Prophet (sa). He did not admit defeat at the hands of the hooligans of Taif, after being brutally pelted with stones. What seemed like a failed mission then turned into a big win, when Muhammad Bin Qasim was born to the same misguided people and bore the torch of Islam many years later.

Only patience breeds win-win.