The sunnah mentions several characteristics of successful parents. Let’s dive into some of them.

Hilm (Forebearance) and Hayaa (Modesty)

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو إِسْحَاقَ الْهَرَوِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا الْعَبَّاسُ بْنُ الْفَضْلِ الأَنْصَارِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا قُرَّةُ بْنُ خَالِدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو جَمْرَةَ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ لِلأَشَجِّ الْعَصَرِيِّ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ فِيكَ خَصْلَتَيْنِ يُحِبُّهُمَا اللَّهُ الْحِلْمَ وَالْحَيَاءَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Translation: It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said to Ashajj Ansari: “You have two characteristics that Allah likes: Forbearance and modesty.” (Sunan ibn Majah)

This hadith mentions two characteristics: al-hilm (forebearance), and hayaa (modesty).

Allah characterizes hilm with his name, Al-Haleem. It means: “the one who is angry, and justifiably angry; and who has the power to do something about it, but still withholds his anger.”

Children test you. They intentionally push limits and push your buttons to provoke a reaction. (They even know which parent/caregiver goes easy on them — that’s who they ask when they want something.)

Rifq (Active Gentleness)

حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ حَفْصٍ الأُبُلِّيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ عَيَّاشٍ، عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ رَفِيقٌ يُحِبُّ الرِّفْقَ وَيُعْطِي عَلَيْهِ مَا لاَ يُعْطِي عَلَى الْعُنْفِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Translation: “Allah is Rafeeq (gentle) and loves gentleness, and He grants reward for it that He does not grant for harshness.” (Sunan ibn Majah)

Rifq means active gentleness, kindness, and compassion. Another hadith in Saheeh Muslim mentions that rifq decorates actions.

Rahmah (Mercy)

وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ قبل النبي الحسن بن علي رضي الله عنهما، وعنده الأقرع بن حابس، فقال الأقرع‏:‏ إن لي عشرة من الولد ما قبلت منهم أحدًا‏.‏ فنظر إليه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال‏:‏ “من لا يرحم لا يرحم” ‏(‏‏(‏متفق عليه‏)‏‏)‏ ‏.‏

Translation: The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) kissed his grandson Al-Hasan bin ‘Ali (May Allah be pleased with them) in the presence of Al-Aqra’ bin Habis. Thereupon he (Aqra) remarked: “I have ten children and I have never kissed any one of them.” Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) looked at him and said, “He who does not show mercy to others will not be shown mercy.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

This hadith illustrates a very simple, easy act of mercy: kissing children. Yes, it is considered manly to kiss your children!

Facilitate Ease for Them

وَحَدَّثَنِي عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، عَنْ عُرْوَةَ بْنِ الزُّبَيْرِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، زَوْجِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ مَا خُيِّرَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي أَمْرَيْنِ قَطُّ إِلاَّ أَخَذَ أَيْسَرَهُمَا مَا لَمْ يَكُنْ إِثْمًا فَإِنْ كَانَ إِثْمًا كَانَ أَبْعَدَ النَّاسِ مِنْهُ وَمَا انْتَقَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لِنَفْسِهِ إِلاَّ أَنْ تُنْتَهَكَ حُرْمَةُ اللَّهِ فَيَنْتَقِمُ لِلَّهِ بِهَا ‏.‏

Translation: ‘Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not have to choose between two matters, but that he chose the easier of them as long as it was not a wrong action (i.e. haraam). If it was a wrong action, he was the furthest of people from it. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not take revenge for himself unless the limits of Allah were violated. Then he took revenge for it for Allah.” (Imam Malik’s Muwatta)

Don’t Get Angry

وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه ، أن رجلاً قال للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ أوصني، قال‏:‏ ‏”‏لا تغضب‏”‏ فردد مراراً، قال‏:‏ ‏”‏ لاتغضب‏”‏ رواه البخاري‏.‏

Translation: A man asked the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) for an advice and he (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Do not get angry”. The man repeated that several times and he (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) replied, “Do not get angry”. (Saheeh Bukhari)

Pray Short Prayers

If you pray with your children, pray short prayers:

وَحَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا لَيْثٌ، ح قَالَ وَحَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ رُمْحٍ، أَخْبَرَنَا اللَّيْثُ، عَنْ أَبِي الزُّبَيْرِ، عَنْ جَابِرٍ، أَنَّهُ قَالَ صَلَّى مُعَاذُ بْنُ جَبَلٍ الأَنْصَارِيُّ لأَصْحَابِهِ الْعِشَاءَ فَطَوَّلَ عَلَيْهِمْ فَانْصَرَفَ رَجُلٌ مِنَّا فَصَلَّى فَأُخْبِرَ مُعَاذٌ عَنْهُ فَقَالَ إِنَّهُ مُنَافِقٌ ‏.‏ فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ ذَلِكَ الرَّجُلَ دَخَلَ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَأَخْبَرَهُ مَا قَالَ مُعَاذٌ فَقَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ أَتُرِيدُ أَنْ تَكُونَ فَتَّانًا يَا مُعَاذُ إِذَا أَمَمْتَ النَّاسَ فَاقْرَأْ بِالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا ‏.‏ وَسَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الأَعْلَى ‏.‏ وَاقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ ‏.‏ وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَى ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Translation: ‘Mu’adh ib Jabal al-Ansari (radiallahu ‘anhu) led his companions in the night prayer and prolonged it for them. A person amongst us said prayer (after having separated himself from the congregation). Mu’adh was informed of this, and he remarked that he (the man) was a hypocrite. When it (the remark) was conveyed to the man, he went to the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) and informed him of what Mu’adh had said. Upon this the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said to him: Mu’adh, do you want to become a person putting (people) to trial? When you lead people in prayer, recite: “By the Sun and its morning brightness” (Surat Al-Fajr),” Glorify the name of thy most high Lord” (Surat At-Taariq) and” Read in the name of Lord” (Surah Iqraa), and” By the night when it spreads” (Surat Al-Layl.). (Saheeh Muslim)

Muadh ibn Jabal (radiallahu anhu) was a well-known scholar and one of the top teachers of the ummah. This hadith applies to companions of the prophet, salallahu alayhi wa sallam wa radiallahu anhum, the best of the best generations. How much more so for children who are not yet accountable for their deeds?

In Conclusion

‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, radiallahu ‘anhu, once dismissed one of his governers from his post. Why? He says: “I have to take you out, you have no rahmah (mercy) on your own family, how will you have it on people?”

Please make sure you have rahmah on your children. Don’t let them just fear you, but let them love you. Don’t spoil them, but have a balance of both love and fear.

You have to be smart. Sometimes, you have to turn a blind eye, andpretend you didn’t see/hear it. Pick your fights. Don’t be a soldier, walking around in the house and kids start saluting you. Use moderation and give them their due rights.

Finally, pick your fights. If it’s worth it, do it. Two tips from shaykh Alaa:

Give chances, like three strikes Then what? “You’ve chosen this.” Turn the tables on them and make them realize the effects of their actions.

If they fight over things, and come to you, just take it away. What does this teach them? 1) share, 2) negotiate, and 3) don’t come to you for every problem.

May Allah allow us to instil these qualities in our hearts and live and die by them. Remember, some special few individuals are gifted these qualities; the rest of us have to work, hard, constantly, to acquire them. You can achieve anything, just give it time, and don’t expect change to happen overnight.

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.