Responsibilities of parents
Raising children in the 21st century is not an easy task. Each generation has its unique problems but the Quranic advice will always offer the best solutions because the nature of human beings remains unchanged. When Allah sent down the Quran He filled it with advice and reminders that would be useful for all times. Children are a trust given to parents by Allah. Parents will be held accountable for this trust. Parents are essentially responsible for the moral, ethical and spiritual upbringing of their children. If parents fulfil this responsibility, children will become better citizens and a pleasure to their parents in this life and in the Hereafter.
The responsibilities of parents towards their children is mentioned in several verses of the Quran, as well as numerous Ahadith of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). An excellent example of this is found in Surah Luqman (verses 12-19) where Prophet Luqman advises the following to his son:
- Don’t associate anything with Allah
- Be good and kind to your parents
- Obey your parents unless they command what is wrong
- All our deeds, however minor, are recorded and will be brought to light
- Perform the prayer regularly
- Enjoin good and forbid evil
- Remain patient in times of hardship
- Don’t look down on people in arrogance
- Be modest in manner and speech
This is a model example of parental responsibility and advice. Prophet Luqman guides his own son on the path with simple but memorable words. This advice is applicable even now and can be followed and used by any parent wanting to raise a child in the light of Islam. If all parents implemented Prophet Luqman’s advice then there would be no need to worry about the fate of our children because they would have been shown the path that leads to Paradise.
Allah says: “The believers whose children followed them in faith will be united with them in paradise…” [52:21]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Take care! Each one of you is like a shepherd and each one of you shall be asked concerning his flock; a leader is a shepherd of his people, and he shall be asked concerning his flock, and a man is a shepherd of the people of his house, and he shall be asked concerning his flock, and a woman is a shepherd of the house of her husband and over their children, and she shall be asked concerning them” [Bukhari].
The mother’s role may be even greater, while the children are young they are very close to her and dependent upon her, and they spend more time with her than with anyone else. There is an Islamic saying: “The mother is the first school”. She may even be unaware that she is serving as a role model in her behaviour and attitude. Every mother should be conscious of her role and do her best to make it beneficial for the development of her children as they set out on the journey of life.
Parental care and guidance are fundamental in raising children. Some parents nowadays become so preoccupied with their jobs or with making money or with their social lives that children are often neglected. They may be ignored or left for hours in front of the TV, PS4 or iPad or they may be sent to day-care centres at a very early age to be cared for by other people. The parents’ right to respect from their children is dependent upon the children’s right to loving care and guidance of their parents.