A myriad of challenges surround parents in the contemporary world, not to mention a number of surrogate parents that have taken over in the form of cell phones, television, ipads and other gadgets and gizmos. At times, parents inclined towards the Deen wonder how to infuse the personality of Prophet Muhammad (sa) into their children. After all, Allah (swt) has mentioned: “And indeed, you are of a great moral character.” (Al-Qalam 68:4)
There are basically two types of personalities: type A and type B. Others fall somewhere in between. Mostly, the personalities of both parents determine which personality type becomes characteristic of the child.
Type A parents
- They express anger and irritation, whenever they have to stand in a queue for more than 15 minutes.
- It’s hard for them to find time to relax or let themselves go during the day.
- They express irritation or annoyance, when someone speaks too slowly.
- They work better under pressure or when meeting deadlines.
- They take charge of a group, in order to get things moving.
- They do things quickly, even if they have ample time.
- They interrupt what people are saying, if they think they are wrong.
- They are picky and note minute details.
- They get annoyed at those who don’t work as hard as they do.
- They interrupt others’ conversation in order to speed things up.
Type A children
- They are achievers.
- They try hard to win at sports or games, plus be good in academics, too.
- When they lose a game or do not stand first in class, they get angry at themselves or others.
- They get bored easily.
- They find there aren’t enough things to do during the day.
Type A parents raise type A children. Because these parents are intensely competitive and achievement-oriented, they drive their kids to be the same. These parents are aggressive, driven and impatient. They have a distorted sense of time urgency. Everything is urgent and cannot be postponed. They move rapidly and frequently. They talk fast and listen impatiently. Hence, their children learn this behaviour from them. They become achievers in all areas, but they end up damaging their health and relationships with others.
Now, let’s analyze type B.
Type B parents
- They are patient and adapt to trying circumstances.
- They have a routine that suits them and allows them to relax.
- They do not rush: either their conversations or their tasks. They take things slowly.
- They do not interrupt what people are saying, if they think they are wrong.
- They do not pick at every minute detail.
- They are not intensely competitive.
- They do not have any sense of time urgency.
Type B children
- They are not ‘achievers’ in the sense that they will not stand first in class or win every game, but they foster quality relationships and enjoy better health.
- They do not get bored.
- They are relaxed and unhurried.
- They are non-aggressive and non-competitive.
Now, the question is, how do we reconcile the two types, in order to ensure that the personality of our children resembles at least to some degree that of the Prophet (sa)? One way to do that is to have baseline type B with some characteristics of type A. For instance, kids are encouraged to do their best and leave the rest to Allah (swt). A complete inclination towards type B would mean that parents do not encourage their child to make the extra effort, and since the child is non-competitive, he or she does not have the urge to push himself or herself forward. However, while the parents encourage and motivate, they also clarify that failure is to find out one more way that will not work. Hence, there is no room for the child to be lazy and lethargic; instead, the child becomes proactive with a sense that he or she will not always succeed in what he or she is doing.
Baseline type B with type A characteristics also means having a strong sense of direction. For such individuals and their children, success would not result from speed or trying to cram in as many tasks as possible in the shortest possible time. It would come from being focused, prioritizing the tasks and then performing them in accordance with their urgency.
Here are some incidents from the life of the Prophet (sa) to illustrate how his personality was the right blend of type B with type A, as the situation demanded.
Aisha (rtaf) has narrated: “The Prophet (sa) took a child in his lap for Tahnik (i.e., he chewed a date in his mouth and put its juice in the mouth of the child). The child urinated on him, so he asked for water and poured it over the place of the urine.” (Bukhari) Note the reaction of the Prophet (sa). He did not rebuke the child or his parents. He did not get angry or irritated. He simply washed off the urine.
On the other hand, he did get angry, when the commands of Allah (swt) were disobeyed. Consider the following incidents. It was narrated from Abdullah bin Amr (rtam) that he came to the Prophet (sa), wearing two garments dyed with safflower. The Prophet (sa) got angry and said: “Go and take them off.” He said: “Where should I throw them, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “In the fire.” (An-Nasai)
Narrated Ali bin Abi Talib (rtam): “The Prophet (sa) gave me a silk suit. I went out wearing it, but seeing the signs of anger on his face, I tore it and distributed it among my women-folk.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet (sa) got angry in the aforementioned two hadiths because the colour and the fabric used are meant to be the fashions of the disbelieving men. However, they are permitted for Muslim women.
To infuse children with the personality of the Prophet (sa), it is imperative for the parents to do the following:
- Self-analyze and keep correcting your own behaviour. If you are success-oriented, you cannot blame your child, if he or she is one. If you react negatively upon every negative behaviour, accept that your child will do the same.
- Choose carefully what to react strongly on. You cannot pick a battle with a child every time he or she does something you deem unacceptable.
- Teach them to be true achievers in the hereafter as obtaining Jannah is the greatest success. In this world, you win some, you lose some. There is no need to grieve over the past or be anxious about the future in this temporary world.
- If you feel you have already instilled the win-all personality in your child, it might be a good idea to let them play games with younger siblings and encourage them to let the little ones win at times. This would be a good time to demonstrate how to accept others’ victory with good grace.
- Teach your kids the fact that when they lose or fail at something in spite of their best effort, it is Allah’s (swt) Qadr (decree) at work. Give them an example of Sulah-e-Hudaibiya that apparently was a loss but was termed as Fatah-e-Mubeen (victory).
So what type of a child are you raising?