One should be kind and merciful to his children
Abu Hurairah reported that Al-Aqra’ bin Habis saw Allah’s Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, kissing Hasan. He said: “I have 10 children but I have never kissed anyone of them,” whereupon Allah’s Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “He who does not show mercy, no mercy will be shown to him.” [Muslim, Kitab al-Fadail.]
Abdullah ibn abi Qatadah narrated: “My father said: The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “When I stand for prayers, I intend to prolong it but on hearing the cries of a child, I cut it short as I dislike to trouble the child’s mother.” [Bukhari]
Aisha, radiallahu ‘anha, narrated: “A lady along with her two daughters came to me asking for some alms, but she found nothing with me except one date which I gave her. She divided it between her to daughters, and did not eat anything herself, and then got up and went away. Then the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam came in and I informed him about this story. He said: “Whoever is put to trial by these daughters and he treats them generously (with benevolence) then these daughters will act as a shield for him from Hellfire.” [Related by Bukhari in the Book of Zakat.]
Playing with them and making them happy
For a child, playing is an important part of his daily schedule. It is by playing that he learns and develops affectively, intellectually and physically. Anas, radiallahu ‘anhu, reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was playing with Zaynab bint Umm Salamah and telling her: “O Zuwaynib O Zuwaynib ... several times” [Related in Sahih al-Jami’.]
Being just with them
One has to be fair in his interest in them, enthusiasm for them, cheerfulness to them, no difference being made between a boy and a girl. ‘Amir narrated: I heard An-Numan ibn Bashir, radiallahu ‘anhu, on the pulpit saying: “My father gave me a gift but ‘Amra bint Rawaha (my mother) said she would not agree to it unless he made Allah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam as a witness to it. So my father went to Allah’s Messenger ssallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam and said: “I have given a gift to my son from Amra bint Rawaha, but she ordered me to make you as a witness to it, O Allah’s Messenger!’ Allah’s Messenger asked: ‘Have you given the like of it to every one of your sons?’ He replied in the negative. Allah’s Messenger said: ‘Fear Allah and be just to your children.’ My father then returned and took back his gift.” [Related by al-Bukhari in the Book of gifts.)
Parents are ordered to be just to their children so that the child feels secure at home. A child may not learn the meaning of justice if he is continuously oppressed at home.
Teaching them Islam
Jundub ibn Abdullah said: “We were with the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, we were boys and we learned Iman before learning Qur’an. We then learned Qur’an and it increased our Iman.” [Hadith with sahih isnad narrated by Ibn Majah.] This Hadith shows that the parents should first teach their children the pillars of faith, what it means to believe in Allah and in His oneness. When the child becomes able to understand, he should be taught how to make wudhu’ and Salat.
Sabura, radiallahu ‘anhu, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Teach the child Salat when he reaches seven and spank him for it when he reaches 10.” [Related by Tirmithi who said it is a Hasan Sahih Hadith.] Hence, the parents have three years to get their child in the habit of offering regular prayers. By the age of 10, the parents should be more strict in their orders concerning the prayer. When the child reaches puberty, Salat becomes obligatory on him. The above hadith has singled out Salat because of its high position in Islam but the principle applies to all other acts of worship.
Teaching them good manners
Such as not to lie, steal or cheat. It is imperative in this respect that the parents themselves observe these manners. Children should also be taught to ask for permission to enter their parents’ bedroom during three periods of the day. Allah said: “O you who believe, let your legal slaves and those among you who have not reached the age of puberty ask your permission before they come to your presence on three occasions: before fajr prayer, and while you put off your clothes for the noonday rest, and after the ‘isha prayer. These three times are of privacy for you. Outside those times, it is not wrong for you or for them to move about attending to each other. Thus Allah makes clear the verses of this Qur’an to you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. But when the children among you come to puberty, then let them also ask for permission, as those senior to them. Thus Allah makes clear His commandments for you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Qur’an 24:58-59)
Choosing the right friends for them.
Abu Musa narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “The example of a good companion and a bad one is that of a person carrying musk and another blowing a pair of bellows. The one who is carrying musk will either give you some perfume as a present, or you will buy some from him, or you will get a good smell from him; but the one who is blowing a pair of bellows will either burn your clothes or you will get a bad smell from him.” [Bukhari and Muslim.]
Because children learn mostly from other children, it is important that we choose good friends for our children. Good friends reinforce the good manners and habits while bad friends reinforce the bad manners and habits.
Our children are a trust given to us by Allah. They are born with a natural predisposition to accept the teachings of Islam. Depending on the upbringing we give them, we may make them good Muslims or we may make them non-Muslims. That is how great our responsibiltiy is. This responsibility has to be borne by both the father and the mother. On the other hand, the reward they would get for upbringing a good Muslim is also great. When a child asks forgiveness for his parents from Allah, their position in paradise is raised. We pray to Allah to be from those who are saved on the Day of Judgment and not from the losers. Allah said: “Say: ‘The losers are those who will lose themsleves and their families on the Day of Resurrection. Verily, that will be a manifest loss!’” (Qur’an 39:15)