Parenting in the old days was different. At least thats what some of the elderly will tell you. It was alright to yell. It was alright to spank. There was none of this positive parenting nonsense.
That really gets to me some times.
Like when my 4 year old decided she’s not going to go wash her hands before a meal, while all my friends’ children quietly obeyed their mommy’s.
Or the time I get asked why my children whine so much.
And when my children run around the masjid like its a playground.(P.s. I grew up doing that and I’ll write separate article on it!)
Or the times my children make a fuss over meals.
Or the classic,”My children were so well behaved when they were young”, trying to imply what good parents they were.
“Did you know you can coerce a child into good behaviour? Great relationship you must have with the kids now, right?”, thats the bitter monologue that runs through my mind when people talk like that.
Whenever I hear, “Back in the old days we did things differently”, it makes me cringe. It shakes me up. Not because I disagree, but because I begin to doubt myself as a parent.
I worry that I should enforce more discipline, that I should be firmer, that a spanking or two will improve my children. The paranoia builds until snap, one of my children gets it.
Often, our children’s behaviour feels like a reflection of our personalities and our parenting. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to detach our children’s behaviour from ourselves. Your self esteem should not be dependant on the behaviour of your two year old, or even your teen. Your sanity depends on it.
It makes matters worse, that others actually do judge us based on our children. We are all tempted to judge others based on the behaviour of their children.
Prophet Yaqub عليه السلام had 12 sons. The older 10, deliberately took their younger brother and dropped him down a well. Then they lied to their father about it. I’m sure Prophet Yaqub عليه السلام must have, undoubtedly, been a great father. Did this event define who he was?
Prophet Nuh عليه السلام could not take his son aboard the ark, simply because he refused to believe him. I cannot imagine the pain he must have felt. If these are the children of prophets, then how are we to expect unquestioned obedience from our children?
The 12 sons of Ya’qub عليه السلام eventually repented and were faithful believers. So that teenager that feels like a storm in your home might calm down someday.
If spanking and yelling were truly beneficial, then they would be mentioned in the sunnah of our Messenger ﷺ *.
If it were something commendable, he would have done it. The young children around him would have spoken of it. Instead we have stories of Anas bin Malik (رضي الله عنه)** , saying how he was never spoken to harshly, you can read about it here and here and here and many other places. By all means google it!
I do not intend to judge parents who spank their children or moms who truly struggle with controlling their temper. I am one of you.
This is more of a reminder for me, that love, encouragement and discipline without hitting and yelling is just fine. Our conviction has to be strong, in knowing we are right. It doesn’t mean that the next time an auntie tuts at me I need to give her a piece of my mind. I need to be strong so I can calmly shrug them off and continue holding my four year old with gentle hands while I set her down to finish her tantrum in a quiet place.