My biggest challenge as a parent is setting the right example for my children. Getting up for ablution once the adhaan (call to prayer) is made so they can link the adhaan with prayer; meticulously performing wudhu so they learn not to rush through the motions; garbing up properly so they understand they should also cover their awrah; then calmly performing salaah and refusing to be distracted by them.
But that’s not all. I have to watch what I eat, how I eat it, start with Bismillah and end with Alhamdulillah even if I didn’t use to; reduce my attention to the media, phones, gadgets and increase eye contact; keeping my word; courtesy and manners; hygiene; being active physically and mentally; conversing in my native dialect more frequently; what I watch on TV and listen to on the car radio or play on the CD; adhkaar, adhkaar and more adhkaar…
“What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Phew! All these little acts go a long way in moulding them even before I am aware. The more consistently they see these acts (and consistency is difficult unless it is already a habit), the easier it is for them to assimilate like the sponges they are. Our children want to be just like us when they grow up (and they know better than to replicate us). We catch glimpses of ourselves in them when they walk, talk, laugh, sleep…
Who we are is a collage of subconscious habits and we often get shocked when we see our mini-me’s mimic our words, actions and mannerisms. And of course, they do not discriminate in what they learn; even though they even seem to have a greater inclination toward imbibing negative traits!
Do not make your child, nephew, niece or neighbour’s child blame you for the vices (s)he later develops in life simply from watching you as ‘He who guides to a good deed is like the doer.’ Just as you would receive good tidings for the good acts you guide them to later in life, so would you receive your share from the sins you inspired them to commit. You may also be punished for advising them to good while you do otherwise.
Most importantly, rather than dissuade them from being better Muslims, let us encourage them to be better because, who knows? They may be our reason for being admitted into Paradise.