Do you look around at the society and deeply wish you could change what you see? Every thinking mind must feel that way. We see problems everywhere and think that either it is the absence of a system or failure of the existing system which is keeping us behind and creating all the chaos. Some of us intervene; try to make the change and contribute on our own in whatever way we can, whether it’s through donations or volunteer work. But there is one principle that we have forgotten to take into account. And that is, profound and lasting change comes from within. No superficial patchwork is going to work. In fact, the efforts can go wasted if we don’t start right. So what’s that starting point? These very people making up the flawed society were all once children. We must begin from there. We must begin with raising a child, the role of a mother.
The importance of the huge responsibility on a mother’s shoulders should be evident from the fact that Allah has relieved women (mothers) of the worry to earn a living and has declared it a duty of the men, the respective husbands and fathers of their children, to provide for them both. It is important not to forget that women are allowed to work and pursue their careers by their own free will without any obligation to, and keep whatever they earn for themselves. And even though women can equally be and should become a part of the nation’s workforce, we shouldn’t confuse the concept of gender equality with ‘sameness’ and underestimate the importance of the task nature has assigned exclusively to the female gender. Once they choose to become mothers, there is no greater responsibility than to shift the focus onto that little being whose life they are going to shape. The first few years, a baby needs his mother more than anything. However, more than the amount of time, it’s the quality of that time and being available physically, mentally and emotionally that makes all the difference. One might wonder what all the fuss is about when children can grow on their own. Unlike animals, providing for the basic needs of feeding, cleaning, playing and sleeping is not enough for a human child. He needs more.
In our culture, mothers are placed at a very high, sacred level achieved just by giving birth. The sacrifices of a mother cannot be ignored but we must detach ourselves from emotions for a while and realize that most of the people in our society were raised by mothers! But it’s not that they’ve done something wrong deliberately. However, without targeting or judging, we must objectively see the state our society is in, owing to the character of the people. The point is, unless we evaluate the ways they were brought up, we cannot change those ways and hence the results.
The biggest problem, I believe, is that the moral values are taken casually. They are not given due importance. We easily compromise on them not realizing that these are ‘permanent values’ which are to be followed under all circumstances, not just when it’s feasible. We desperately need a change of perspective where we give the moral values their due importance. So the change should begin with us mothers changing ourselves. Start with one step at a time but do start. Right now! Think of one thing that you think is severely deficient in the society. What gets to you the most? The casual lying in every conversation or not keeping a promise or commitment? Is it the way people are trying to cheat and fool others? Is it the extreme curiosity people have about your life and the interference you face? Whatever value you want to inculcate in your child, start internalizing it yourself first. Because the child will learn what he sees, not what we preach him. A child knows his mother, her moods, and attitudes and learns from her behaviour and actions.
From now on, instead of telling him there’s no more chocolate, tell him honestly that he’s had enough for today and he can have more tomorrow. The next day, keep your commitment even if he forgets to ask. Do not cheat and sneak out behind his back so you don’t have to deal with a tantrum. Pay attention and listen to him when he’s talking or showing you something instead of cutting him short just because it doesn’t make sense to you. Answer his questions rather than avoiding and directing him elsewhere. Respect him, his emotions, opinions and decisions and treat him as a separate individual, not as your submissive. Don’t let others treat him any way they like even if they are his elders or your elders. Don’t compromise on the wrong, stand up for the right and teach him the importance of principles. Treasure your child’s uniqueness and never make the mistake of comparing him to anyone else. As you give up easy parenting, invest in the time and energy and do all this, you will be a role model of truth, honesty, commitment, being true to your words, good listener, standing up for the right thing and giving respect. Your relationship with your child will grow, mature and strengthen with time.
Do not underestimate the power of raising children on a value system and making no compromise over it. It gives them a solid ground to stand on and when they face all kinds of unavoidable problems in life, they are in a much better position to cope with them and move forward with positivity. If we have clear focus on the result we want to achieve, the high level of character we want to see our child grow up to have, we must not care that people think what the big deal is. Child raising IS a big deal. Let them see the results and learn.