I try to be as open as possible about parenting, marriage, homeschooling and so fourth. None of it is easy and I think that's the whole point. This life is filled with many tests, joys and pains. What matters is that we get through each obstacle and we hope to gain some wisdom along the way. Us having difficulties is no secret, so why do we hide the perils that may help the next parent who may face them. We pretend to be perfect parents, knowing sometimes we have no clue how we will make it through the next day.
We must remind ourselves that perfection is for Allah alone! The prophets and those rightly guided before us, were tested by their families and that did not change their stations with Allah. It actually helped them to gain strength, patience and perseverance. We must remain steadfast and believe with firm faith that with every difficulty comes ease. I also have found, it comes with a great learning experience if you allow yourself to receive it.
It is easy to develop an attitude of resentment towards the "difficult" child, because they take so much of you, and demand so much time and energy. If you don’t guard your thoughts, you can easily dwell on the negatives, letting the wrong thoughts into your mind, which in turn affects your heart. Remember that Allah knows and sees your struggles, and He is the one who gave you that child. When feeling overwhelmed, stop and thank Allah for entrusting this child to your care. Ask Allah to give you the tools to parent that child the way they need to be parented.
Allah wants us to depend on Him and invites us to come to Him for wisdom. Nothing will make you more aware of that need, than the daily struggles of parenting. Call upon Allah in the last third of the night and seek his help. Intentionally make extra time for this child. Most often they are in need of extra attention and seeking to get a response from you. We can train ourselves to look at it differently. Maybe instead of the "difficult" child we can look at it as the child who actually helps us to get closer to Allah. We must then try to figure out what that child needs (not wants).
We need to be there beside them, showing them we love them and are available for them. I know one of my biggest struggles was spending time with my daughter when I was frustrated, and just didn't have the energy. I found that often those were the times when she just needed me to pull her close for a hug, and let her know that I love her.
I had to start thinking outside of myself and see things from her perspective. It’s important to be intentional about looking for the good in your children. The negative is easy to see, so we have to watch for opportunities to praise them when they are showing effort, or making progress.
Perhaps you are thinking (as I often did) that your "difficult" child often overwhelms you, so how can you praise or encourage them? First, ask Allah to show you when they are trying, or are showing good character. Next, remember to encourage even small acts that you appreciate. It’s easy to look for BIG things to praise them for, but if they make a slight improvement and you make a big deal out of it, it makes them want to try harder, and do what is right more often. The quickest way to calm your spirit when your child has you upset is to calmly suggest that you take time apart to pray or try to pray together.
It’s hard to stay upset when you are praying for someone! While praying you are able to turn your anger into concern. It also reminds your child that Allah is who we turn to for help and that it’s important for them to go to Allah in prayer when they are struggling. Pray for them regularly and your relationship as well. Praying for your children is one of the best gifts you can give them! We do not have all the answers but surely Allah does.
Though the love between you and your children is infinite the relationships will get complicated at times. There may be harsh words and buttons pushed but this relationship deserves great determination and care. Infact, our relationship with our children play a large role in how they see themselves now and who they may become in the future. For girls especially! Their "positive-self" image, esteem and worth is largely credited to how we treat them.
One of my goals for parenting my children is for them to see me as their safe place. For them to know they can always come to me for encouraging words and support. This is how I see my mother. Whenever I'm in need of one person to just listen and reassure me, I know I can go to my mother. I remember difficult times growing up, being a "know it all" teen and so fourth but that never changed the fact that I always felt safe going to my mother.
Here are "NINE" things I am trying to put in place for my daughter Shanaz to reassure her of my love and support, without compromising my standards.
1. Give her loving suggestions instead of painful criticisms.
2. Highlight her unique skills and qualities.
3. Establish realistic expectations for her.
4. Practice active listening and also (listen to what she's not saying but showing in her behavior).
5. Own my mistakes and apologize to her.
6. Spend quality time with her.
7. Forgive her and don't remind her of shortcomings.
8. Take space when I need it instead of parenting in frustration.
9. Teach her accountability for her own actions ie (Natural Consequences).