Responsible and Effective Parenting


Parents have a very important role in the development of the faith and the personality of their children. They must take this responsibility very seriously. Abuse and neglect inhibit the development of children’s trust in the world, in others, and in themselves.


Children are a great gift of Allah (swt) and all parents must take the responsibility of their nurturing and up bringing very seriously. In the modern competitive times of today, one observes many a parent putting enormous pressure on their children to excel in everything they do, particularly studies. Childhood of many today has been hijacked by adults to realize their own unfulfilled dreams through their children.

The Prophet Muhammad (saws) is reported to have said:

“Every one of you is a guardian, and responsible for what is in his custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and responsible for them; a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it; a lady is a guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it. A man is a guardian of his father’s property and is responsible for it; so all of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and things under your care).” (Bukhâri)

The Qur’an states:

Your riches and your children are but a trial: whereas Allah, with Him is the highest reward.” [At-Taghabun, 64:15]

Since our children are but a trial and that the highest reward is with Allah (swt), it is our responsibility to guide our children to Islam; so that we can save them from the hell-fire.

O you who believe! Protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and rocks…” [At-Tahreem, 66: 6]

Muneera is a 38 year Arab-Khleej lady who was referred to me for a suspected heart problem because she was complaining of chest pain and fatigue and palpitations.

After evaluating her, I found no significant heart problem. However, a psychiatric history revealed that she is suffering from depression. I prescribed an antidepressant and gave another appointment after three months.

On enquiring about her condition in the next visit, she stated that her condition remained unchanged.

I said, “It seems the medicine did not help you.”

She replied that she did not use the prescribed medicine because she does not want to relax. I was really astonished, because this was the first time I heard a patient saying that she did not want to feel better.

She explained that she has five boys between 7-16 years of age, and that she wants to be alert to watch them so that they do not watch undesirable program on TV or internet. I asked her whether the father does not help her in monitoring them. She said that he married a Filipino lady and lives with her and only occasionally visits her and the children. This is because Muneera refused to have any marital relations with him since he is a businessman and has illicit relations with women during his frequent trips abroad; she is afraid that she will contract some disease as a result of intimacy with him. She does not want a divorce because she has no means of support. The husband provides a decent living for her and the children.

This story illustrates that the father is neglecting his children and is a bad role model. How can the children love, honor, respect and obey such a father. Love and respect is something we all have to earn by our dedication and sacrifices for the family.

I know a family from South Asia who had three minor daughters. The mother left her husband and married someone else. The father raised the daughters as a single-parent for several years before getting married again. The mother never contacted her daughters since she abandoned them.

If one looks around for such callous and irresponsible behavior of the parents, we find that it is not that uncommon.

Under the best circumstances, the children suffer severe emotional trauma whenever there is family disruption and step-parents are seldom as effective as loving biological-parents. The children need the love and care of both parents. Children of single parents are psychologically traumatized and they have problems with marriage, trust and relationships. Many of them develop personality disorders and some may become criminals.

In this article, I would like to discuss about proper parenting. Every individual is different and everyone’s circumstances are different. However, there are general principles of good parenting which need to be understood and applied. The psychologists have described four parenting styles:

Authoritarian Parenting

In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents. Failure to follow such rules usually results in punishment. Authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules. If asked to explain, the parent might simply reply, “Because I said so!”

These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children. These parents expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation. I have observed that people who are successful professionally and have attained a high position believe they are never wrong and everyone must obey them blindly. This is more so if they happen to be religious as well. They tend to be perfectionists and demand perfection from their children. The children of such parents tend to be obedient and proficient but unhappy and lack social skills and have a low self-esteem.

Once I visited a friend of mine with my wife. After our visit, when we sat in the car, my wife said that the house was absolutely spick and span. Even the kitchen seemed as if it has not been used yet. [She complained that I am responsible for a messy home]. He had three children between the age of 7-15. I said: “In that case, the children will develop psychological problems.” His eldest daughter had straight ‘A’s in O-Levels and was considered the most brilliant in her school.

After two years, however, her dad called me seeking help for her behavioral problem. She required admission in our psychiatric ward for six weeks. She improved, but they have left and gone back to their home country and I have lost contact with them.

Authoritative Parenting: Like authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow. However, this parenting style is much more democratic. Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing.

These parents monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative. Children of such parents are happy, capable and successful and have great regard and love for their parents. The children are able to attain their potential. Even the Qur’an emphasizes that we should run our affairs by mutual consultation (Shura).

Permissive Parenting: Permissive parents, sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, have very few demands to make of their children. These parents rarely discipline their children because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control. Permissive parents are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation. Permissive parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent. These children have problems with authority and do poorly in school. They have low frustration tolerance and have wrong concept of entitlement. They consider themselves entitled to all their desires.

Uninvolved Parenting: An uninvolved parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. These parents fulfill the child’s basic needs; however, they are generally detached from their child’s life. They may even neglect the needs of the children. These children remain unhappy with low self-esteem. Such children may develop hatred for the parent, particularly if all children are not treated equally.

The relationship that a dad has with his kids is immensely important. And as significant as the connection is with our boys as we teach them to become men, the most important relationship we have is the one with our daughters. We hold the key to all the relationships our daughters will have with men. It is a great responsibility when you begin to shape how your daughter will look at men for the rest of her life, it’s important to realize that it is not just how you treat your wife or other women. It is everything. It is how you treat people, how you carry yourself, your level of integrity, and many other things.

Be sure you make time for just you and your daughter. It doesn’t even matter what you do, just spend time with her. Know who her friends are, what she likes, and what she’s having a hard time with at school. Most importantly: Listen

As parents, we can guide, nurture, teach, mentor, discipline, and reward. When children do exceedingly well, it may be due, in part, to our genes, our support, or our counsel, but it is not BECAUSE of us. It is because of the children. When children struggle and fail, or trip and fall, it may be influenced by things parents didn’t provide or didn’t see in time, but it is not completely the fault of the parent, either. Parents must be responsible, loving, caring, appropriately protective, and reasonable with discipline, and after that it is out of the parents’ hands

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Every child is born with a true faith of Islam (i.e., to worship none but Allah Alone) and [it is then] its parents who convert it to Judaism or Christianity or Magianism. This is even as an animal delivers a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?” (Bukhari)

As stated in the above hadith, the parents have a very important role in the development of the faith and the personality of their children. They must take this responsibility very seriously. Abuse and neglect inhibit the development of children’s trust in the world, in others, and in themselves. Later, as adults, these people may find it difficult to trust the behavior and words of others, their own judgement and actions, or their own sense of self-worth. Not surprisingly, they may experience problems in their academic work, their relationships, and in their very identities.

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