“Beta, your wedding is just around the corner. You are about to become a member of another family. Treat them like your own. Be patient if there is something you dislike about your husband or in-laws. Always be nice to your Saas (mother-in-law). When your husband returns home in the evening, take care of his needs, dress up for him, serve him a delicious meal…”

As daughters or granddaughters, most of us have heard such statements of advice from our elders at the time of marriage. And rightly so. The question arises: do the sons receive a similar set of instructions at the time of tying the knot? Experience and probe tells us that boys seldom receive such advice. Generally, the onus of keeping a marriage intact is more on the wife than the husband. And when the marriage passes through turbulent waters, the wife is the first to be held responsible for not being patient, grateful, dutiful… while not putting much blame on the one responsible for manoeuvring the boat. Have we placed too much of a burden on the daughters as compared to our sons when it comes to balancing relationships in a marriage? Are we, as their elders, to be blamed for not grooming our sons into responsible husbands and fathers? Do we only preach them to be dutiful sons, while neglecting their commitments towards other relations? Have we failed our sons?

An interesting aspect is that we want our son-in-law to be the most perfect husband, but when it comes to our own sons, we take a somersault. If our son-in-law is kind and affectionate towards our daughter, he is showered with praises and declared to be the best husband on earth. But when our son displays the same attitude towards his wife, we say he is a Zann Mureed (henpecked husband). Double standards!

We need to seriously reflect on our attitude as parents and the manner we are grooming our children, especially sons. Abdullah Ibn Umar (rtam) narrated that he heard Allah’s Messenger (sa) say: “Every one of you is a guardian and responsible for what is in his custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and responsible for them; a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it; a lady is a guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it; a son is a guardian of his father’s property and is responsible for it, so all of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and things under your care.” (Bukhari)

Every one of us has some responsibilities to shoulder and must be vigilant of their execution in an appropriate manner. Parents are responsible for their children. The husband has the responsibility of his family upon him. However, very few bridegrooms are aware of this obligation. Rather, they are more informed of the privileges in a marriage. All boys are well acquainted with the Hadeeth in which the Prophet (sa) said: “Had it been permissible that a person may prostrate himself before another, I would have ordered that a wife should prostrate herself before her husband.” (Tirmidhi) Only some know that the Prophet (sa) also said: “The most perfect Muslim in the matter of faith is one who has excellent behaviour; the best among you are those who behave best towards their wives.” (Tirmidhi) Most are familiar also with this statement of the Prophet (sa): “Any woman who dies when her husband is pleased with her will enter paradise.” (Tirmidhi) Yet, how many reflect on the fact that the Prophet (sa) said: “The one who treats badly those ‘under his authority’ will not enter Paradise!” (Tirmidhi)

When it comes to how a wife should respond to her husband’s intimate needs, the Prophet (sa) is quoted to have said: “If a man calls his wife to bed and she refuses and then he sleeps angry, the angels shall curse her until he awakens.” (Bukhari and Muslim) The same men are ignorant of the fact that Prophet (sa) educated husbands as to how they should approach their wives by saying: “None of you should fall upon his wife like an animal; first let there be a messenger between you.” The Sahabahs inquired: “What is that messenger?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Kisses and (romantic) words!” (Ad-Daylami)

The list is endless. The above was just a sneak peek into how our society has generally failed to raise boys; how we have double standards for males and females in marriage; how quick we are to compare the cooking standard of our daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law, but we refrain from comparing our son-in-law’s financial status and job experience with that of his father-in-law. We feel it is important to teach our daughters to drive a car, but we do not feel the need to train our sons to iron their own clothes. We pamper our males; when they return home after a day’s work at the office, we let them sit back and relax, not saying a word that may disturb them. However, when females return from work, we expect them to cook, clean, and attend to all the family members with their varied needs. We feel it is ok for the husband to continue to live with his parents after marriage, but when the wife visits hers, we raise eyebrows. He gets to celebrate Eids with his family, and she gets to meet hers when it’s all over. It is sad that we, as elders of the family, have introduced and endorsed such major contrasts within the household and then we have the audacity to complain that the couple is not getting on well with each other.

Parenthood is a position of authority, and authority necessitates accountability. Children have certain rights upon parents, and a proper upbringing is one of the prime rights of a child. Parents will be answerable for that. Kids are an investment. Every good deed they perform is an asset for the parents in the Akhirah. Hence, one should invest sensibly. Youngsters follow what they observe at home. They learn from what has been a norm in their household. As parents, we must engage in their proper Tarbiyah (training) from a very young age by maintaining a balance within our homes. Subsequently, when our children build their own nest, they will build it upon solid foundations, Insha’Allah.