The Role of the Mother in Upbringing the Child 2

The Role of the Mother in Upbringing the Child 2

2. Sacrifice and dedication

A mother gives up a great deal for the sake of the child. She gives up her time, her sleep, her pleasures etc. to ensure that the child is all right. As Imam Zaynul ‘Abidin (a) says in his book Risalatul Huquq (mentioned earlier), nobody comes even close to doing what a mother does for her child. That is why he says that it is only with help of the Almighty that one can thank the mother for all her sacrifice and efforts.

A good mother places the needs of the child, both physical and emotional needs, first. This is an important point to keep in mind, especially in these modern times. Women today are deluded by society into making their own careers and jobs more important than their homes. The home will always remain a woman’s most valuable work and that may require all types of sacrifices. It is not really a sacrifice, but is an investment which will reap great dividends.

3. Protection and security

A mother always tries to safeguard the child from danger and difficulties. However some mothers tend to be over protective. It is wise for the child to learn to face some problems in life, according to his age and circumstances. A coddled child will be unable to face the realities of the world when he grows up, a world which will not be as considerate of him as his mother.

The role of the Mother

A window of the child to the world

When a baby is born, he is totally unaware of the outside world. The mother plays an important part in introducing him to the world. The outlook that the child will form towards life depends a lot on the mother. His attitude, his views - religious or otherwise- his perspective on life and its goals, will all be gained from her. Eventually he will mature and perhaps form his own changed views, but the initial years and what he learns in them will always have a lasting impression on his mind.

Model for the child

Since the mother is the most important person in the life of a child, she is greatly revered. Her habits and behavior become a model for the child. Whatever the child observes from her, such as her housekeeping habits, her manners, her relationships with others, the way she spends money, and in general her lifestyle, will all undoubtedly affect the child’s character. A mother is said to be better than a hundred teachers. Her emotional strengths and weaknesses are an example for the child, and will be followed for many years to come even though all of it may not be worthy.

People have been reported to be following their mother’s ways even when they know the mothers were wrong. It is almost like an unconscious reaction, and it takes effort to behave differently. Thus mothers have an important task of setting forth a good example. It may seem difficult, even impossible.

Many mothers think it too great a burden to be acting near perfect all the time, even in the familiarity of their own homes. However it is a good training. What mothers will change in themselves for their children will become a habit, and will lead to a real change. It is not perfection that Islam demands from mothers, but a willingness to accept the responsibility of modeling good acceptable behavior.

Many great people remember their mothers and the role they played in nurturing their greatness. Sayyid ar-Radhi, the compiler of Nahjul Balaghah, mourned the death of his mother greatly. He wrote a poem for her in which he says:

O Mother! I cry and shed tears for your separation hoping that perhaps the burning drops of tears coming out of my sorrowful eyes may melt and remove the mountain of sadness from my heart.

O Mother! You were such a precious jewel and valuable pearl that for getting you released from the plundering enemy’s hand I would have sacrificed everything in my possession as your ransom. But Alas! The death ahs snatched you away from my hand and nothing can be taken back from its deadly claws.

O Mother! If all the mothers of the world would have been righteous like you, indeed the children of the world would not have required the presence of their fathers.

O Mother! All are witness that you were an honorable and noble lady because you have handed over decent and noble children to society.(1)

Shaykh Murtaza Ansari, a great Shia Jurist also wept bitterly at the death of his mother. One of his scholarly pupils reproached him, saying it did not befit a learned scholar to agonize so much over the death of his mother. The Shaykh replied: It seems you are not aware of the high status enjoyed by a mother. The proper training given by this mother of mine to me, and the numerous hardships borne by her for my sake elevated me to this position. The initial training given by her to me paved the way for my making all this progress and acquiring this high status in the world of knowledge.

Strengths of a Mother

The following qualities need to be acquired by all mothers.

Awareness of responsibility

Motherhood is a career, and those who take it up must try and excel at it. It is the duty of every mother to look into better techniques and strategies of parenting. A wide variety of material is available, both Islamic and secular. Although Islamic material may not be abundant in English, many secular books and magazines are published about parenting. Reading these from time to time helps increase awareness and vision. When a mother reads about problems that parents face, she is comforted by the fact that she is not alone. That is very reassuring as often parents assume they are the only ones having difficulties. Also, reading about solutions used by other people, or advice given by psychologists etc. helps broaden the choice of possible tactics in dealing with children.

Setting clear goals

A mother has to know what she expects from her children, and then explain that to them. It is not enough to want good children. The children must know what exactly is expected from them, and what the mother wants them to do. Sometimes a mother tells the child to lay the table properly.

Because it has not been explained to the child what properly means, he does it the way he thinks it right. The child may consequently be blamed for being sloppy, lazy etc. for not setting the table right. The frustration and heartache could have been avoided if the child knew exactly what was expected from him, rather than a vague order to lay the table.

The same can be applied to all chores, behavior with others, academic achievements etc. The mother must have definite goals of what she wants, and make them clear.

Encourage children according to their potential

Each child comes with his own distinctive potential. The Holy Prophet (S) has said: Human beings are like mines of gold and silver. Children have abilities that could lead to great achievements. Some show skill and interest in a certain area, while others prefer a different one.

Apart from not trying to compare children with one another, a good mother tries to bring out the best in each child. She makes the child develop his skills in whatever area he is good at, as well as remedy the weakness in each child. If one child is very shy, for example, the mother should not demand that he socialize and interact with others the way his siblings do.

Some mothers unwittingly put their children through a great deal of embarrassment and humiliation.

The child must be taught to overcome his shyness. Some books on shyness may help. Or the mother could give practical suggestions of what the child could talk about to others. A mother’s gentle guidance can remedy many a flaw and weakness in the character of the child.

NOTE:

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1. Excerpts from Meeting the Pious, Ash-Sharif ar-Radi