By Ruhaifa Adil
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
“And fulfill the promise, surely (every) promise shall be questioned about.” (17:34)
Alhamdulillah, most of us are very particular about the promises we make consciously; however, we also make several unconscious promises throughout the day and don’t even realize it! Sadly, this happens most often with our children. Simple things like: “Just a few minutes, and I’ll come and play with you”, or “I’ll take you to the park tomorrow; let’s just do something at home today” are said to distract our children or to delay things for later but are promises nonetheless!
Parents need to be mindful of what they say and do. Children trust us, their parents, the most. They look up to us and have complete confidence in us, but if we continue to take their regard for granted, we may end up making them lose trust in our words and actions. We think that when we say ‘later’ or ‘tomorrow’, our children don’t take it literally; however, it still means a broken promise! Remember, if we are not someone our kids can rely on for small things, they won’t trust us for the major things later on!
Our actions speak for us. Let us not be those who make promises easily and break them effortlessly! Keeping promises shows children that they are important to us and they can trust us; it also teaches them that Muslims value their words! Here are five tips to help you keep your promises to your kids:
1. Be conscious of what you are promising
Whenever you are saying something, make sure you are conscious of what you are saying. Do not promise anything just to get out of a situation. If your child is throwing a tantrum to stay longer at the park to play with a stray cat, don’t give in to the difficult situation by saying “I’ll get you a pet cat” unless you really mean it!
2. Think before you promise
Don’t make a promise until you’ve figured out how to keep it. Figure out what you will need to fulfill a promise. For example, if you promise to get a cat, be clear about where you will keep the cat, what it will cost to keep one, who will look after it, and so on. As much as we want to say yes to our children, it is better to say no than to not be able to follow through.
3. If in doubt, don’t promise
We all want to give the best to our children. But if you can’t afford something, or you don’t have the kind of time required to fulfill your promise, don’t raise their hopes. Be honest to your children and explain why you can’t promise what they are asking. Even if they are disappointed temporarily, they will trust you more for it because they will know you always give it to them straight.
4. Word yourself correctly
Sometimes children hear what they want to hear. Your ‘maybes’ may sound like a yes to them! If you mean to say no, just say it clearly and gently, offering alternatives that you can fulfill.
Some parents also say Insha’Allah (if Allah wills) when they don’t want to commit to something. This is not a good idea because your children will catch on soon to what you are doing, and they will mistrust the word “Insha’Allah”. Be honest and clear with your children and tell them a clear no or yes, adding Insha’Allah after that as indeed, everything happens by the will of Allah.
5. When you promise, follow through
If you say you will do it, make sure you follow through. Even if it doesn’t turn out as easy as you thought it would, if you have given your word, try your utmost to do it! If all else fails, sit your children down and explain to them what the problem is. Teach them that if someone is unable to keep their promise, they must pay expiation for it: they must feed ten poor people, or give clothes to ten poor people. Pay expiation for your promise and sow the seeds of trust, faith, and honesty in your children at the same time!
Prophet Ismail was honoured for being a man of his word, as Allah mentions in the Quran: “And make mention in the Scripture of Ismail. Lo! He was a keeper of his promise, and he was a messenger (of Allah) and a prophet.” (19:54)
Let us pray and hope that our children can follow in his footsteps, but for that to happen, remember that the first step has to be yours!
Ruhaifa Adil is a mother of four, a practising Muslimah, an avid reader, and a passionate writer. She works primarily as a trainer for mothers and teachers, advocating a multi sensorial, learner-centred approach, which she has learnt through her work as a remedial specialist for children with dyslexia. She is also an author of English textbooks, based on the teachings of the Quran (currently under editing), and creative director of a Tafseer app for kids (soon to be launched Insha’Allah). Her latest project is Qutor.com, a website that helps connect Quran teachers and students.
© IIPH 2016