The Basics of Parenting (part 2)
There is no superiority of one gender over the other. Superiority as a construct is actually measured in terms of righteousness and piety. Within this general framework, Allah has assigned specific roles for males and females in daily functioning. Each gender has been given specific qualities and traits to fulfil their respective roles. This role differentiation is necessary for effective functioning of the family unit, since Allah has created systems with balance and order. The family is a system and it functions most efficiently when the laws of nature and the laws of Allah are implemented.
While this concept of traditional gender roles is also found in other world religious and cultural groups, the trend (or even norm) in many areas of the world is toward the elimination of such a distinct differentiation. Muslims should be aware of this and cautious of the attempts being made to disrupt the traditional gender roles ordained by Allah.
The honourable role of motherhood
Motherhood is highly respected in Islam and is a means through which a woman may gain immense spiritual rewards. Being a mother is the most valuable job in this worldly life, for she will raise the next generation and build a solid foundation for society. Her time will be spent in nurturing, instructing, and guiding — her primary duties as a mother. For this reason, she is given the honour and respect that she deserves.Allah has created this role specifically for women as part of His mercy. For this purpose, Allah has conferred upon women the unique qualities and characteristics necessary for effectual fulfilment of this role. Women tend to be more nurturing, compassionate, sensitive, and patient: all qualities needed to create a warm, loving, and peaceful atmosphere within the home.
Motherhood is a full-time career, entailing pregnancy, giving birth, breastfeeding, and many years of childrearing. These are sufficient responsibilities for one individual without adding the additional burden of having to provide for the family. It is part of Allah’s mercy that women are not required to work outside of the home to bring sustenance for their children.
Women and work
Building families must come first, as this is the main obligation for women. This notion should always be foremost in her mind. Having said that, being a mother does not necessarily preclude work outside of the home. There are some situations, however, where it may be necessary for a mother to work…..., the benefits must carefully be weighed against any harm that may arise.
There are several key guidelines that should be followed when making this decision:
- a woman must first obtain consent from her husband, primarily due to the fact that he may have a broader perspective on how her work may influence the family and its functioning;
- a woman must ensure that her home and children are properly taken care of and that there is no neglect in this aspect; her absence should not in any way cause harm to her family;
- care must be taken to choose employment that is appropriate and fits with the special nature of the woman in accordance with the norms of Islamic law;
- care must to taken to avoid jobs which may lead to transgression of the limits of Islam (such as excessive mixing of genders);
- she must adhere to the principles of Islam with regard to her clothing and demeanour.
The role of fatherhood
The husband is responsible for their physical welfare and wellbeing, which also entails a measure of safety and security. Due to this responsibility, the father is the authority in the family and the leader of the family unit and is worthy of due respect and obedience.
In cooperation with the mother, the father also attends to the spiritual, psychological, and intellectual socialization of their children which means that he must be involved in the training and rearing of his children.
Children need interaction and time with their father just as they do with their mother. The Muslim father is an inspiring role model, teacher, friend, and a source of practical advice.
A review on the impact on fatherhood by the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development shows that a child with an involved father has better social skills by the time s/he reaches nursery, performs better academically, and is less likely to have behavioural problems in the future. Once again, scientific research attests to the wisdom of Islamic teachings.
Nurturing one’s own eeman
The lessons that are acquired over the course of reading this book are not only applicable to children, but to those holding the book as well. This is, in reality, one of the purposes of this endeavour. A long standing tenet in the education field is that we tend to learn the most by teaching others. Parents need to explore other means to enhance their eeman, whether it be through seeking knowledge (essential), increasing worship, or contributing to the Muslim community. Doing this will make the task of nurturing eeman in children all that much easier.
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