This is the second of a series of three articles on having a productive household. In this part, we will discuss 7 more aspects of a productive household. These will relate to how fathers and single mothers can contribute to a more productive household, In sha Allah. (Part 1 | Part 3)
1. Stay Married
One of the most important things a father can do to contribute to a productive household is remain married to his wife. Divorce dissolves families and prevents children from living in the most desirable family atmosphere.
Of course, divorce is allowed in our religion. In some situations such as abusive relationships, it may be preferable. Then there may be situations in which a husband or wife may become widowed. These are exceptions we can not overlook. Nevertheless, in general, the ideal environment for a healthy productive family is an intact one.
According to one hadith, Allah considers divorce the most hated permissible act. The Prophet was reported to have said: “The most hateful permissible thing (halal) in the sight of Allah is divorce.” [Ibn Majah]
Divorce causes difficulties for all parties involved. The most obvious harm occurs when the partners have children. Divorce shakes the foundation of what children know to be familiar and stable. The children are forced into a situation that causes them extreme grief and uncertainty. They lose trust in those closest and most dear to them, often times becoming emotionally insecure.
Even without children, the two divorced individuals themselves suffer great anxiety, emotional upheaval and psychological trauma. Divorce frequently leads to the development of a host of uncomfortable and unhealthy feelings and interactions from the former partners. Divorced spouses often feel betrayed, they lose trust in others and they can fall into long-term depression. This emotional devastation affects the individuals’ interactions with others, including their future relationships. The effects of divorce can sometimes be suffered throughout life.
According the American Psychological Association, “… about 40 to 50 per cent of married couples in the United States divorce.” This is not a precedent we wish to establish for our children.
Children should be raised in intact households. This is obvious, yet much easier said than done, of course. Couples should look to fulfil their responsibilities rather than demanding their rights, then Allah may bless them. Remember that Qur’an and the sunnah have the best advice on how to sustain a working marriage. Additionally, to aid in achieving intact productive households, parents should take advantage of the other resources. Some of these include counselling (recommended in Qur’an), books, websites and suggestions from relatives and friends from whom we may gain helpful advice and encouragement.
2. Support the Children
Of course, this world is not perfect. Sometimes, families break up. In these situations, it is extremely important that the father remains an important part of the children’s life. Divorce can bring about extremely intense feelings between former spouses. For the children’s sake, a father should not let the estrangement affect the relationship he has with them. The children still desire to be with both parents. They need both parents. Each fulfils a different need that is necessary for the children’s proper development.
In addition, children of divorce can sometimes feel abandoned when one parent chooses to avoid interacting with them after the divorce. This can lead to the children having low self esteem and projecting this self image upon society through violence, disrespecting others and displaying self-destructive behaviours. For these reasons, it is important for husbands to be there for their children, despite the difficulty and discomfort they may experience during and after divorce.
3. Fathers Should be Kind to Children’s Mother
It is often the mother whom children are most attached to. Let your children see your affection towards their mother. This gives them peace of mind and teaches them how to treat their own wife once they mature.
Do not abuse your wife. Allah has recommended other methods to use rather than hitting. How many husbands truly attempt to put into practice these recommendations given by Allah ? Anger-management problems, low-self esteem, arrogance and lack of knowledge of conflict management are often the true reasons for physical abuse in the home.
The Prophet never used physical discipline with any of his wives. He is the best of examples for us to emulate.
He also said: “The most perfect man in his faith among the believers is the one whose behaviour is most excellent; and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives.” [At-Tirmidhi]
The above hadith says it all when it comes to the husband’s treatment of his wife.
4. Be Kind With the Children
The Messenger said: “Indeed among the believers with the most complete faith is the one who is the best in conduct, and the most kind to his family.” [At-Tirmidhi]
It has become a norm in some households for the father to be a stern disciplinarian. This is nothing further from the way in which the Prophet was known to run his household. Not only should fathers be kind and gentle with their spouse, but also with their children.
Abu Hurairah reported: The Prophet kissed his grandson Hasan bin ‘Ali in the presence of Aqra’ bin Habis. Thereupon Aqra’ remarked: “I have ten children and I have never kissed any one of them.” The Messenger of Allah cast a glance upon him and said, “He who does not show mercy to others, will not be shown mercy.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
There is no reference to Prophet ever hitting any of his children, stepchildren or grandchildren. What he was known for was kissing them, saying he loved them and being exceptionally patient with them. This is the best model for fathers who wish to establish productive households.
5. Spending Time Productively
Just as some fathers may find themselves divorced or widowed due to unfortunate life situations, so too may mothers. Running a productive household as a single parent can be challenging. One of the greatest difficulties is finding the time to do everything needed and maintaining proper care of your child without the other spouse in the home. An idle mind can get involved in numerous improper activities.
One way to help your children with the extra time they have, when you are not around, is involving them in extracurricular activities. Look into after-school programmes at your masjid or even with mothers who home school their children. If your child is in his or her teens, local parks and recreation centres sometimes provide sports activities in which your child can get involved. Schools can sometimes provide extracurricular activities as well.
6. Be Okay with Reaching out
Another way to help you become more productive in the home is for single mothers to use other family members to give you a break and provide support. Extended family members can provide mentoring and emotional stability to help your children thrive in a more enriching environment.
Male relatives may be available to teach your son fishing or simple car mechanics. Female relatives might be able to share knitting and needlework with your daughter. If you have extended family members living in the same household, this can be a true blessing. Let Grandma help out while you are away at work or when you need some quality time for yourself.
7. Trust and Have Faith in Allah
Let your children see you depending on Allah in all realms of your life, including work. Allah says: “Put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed.” [Qur’an: Chapter 5, Verse 23]
We all depend on Allah for our sustenance. It is easy to forget where our true maintenance is coming from when we have a secure job or we are being supported by our spouse. Remembering to depend upon Allah is essential, especially for single mothers who are struggling to maintain their households.
One problem affecting many single mothers is finding employment, while trying to maintain their proper Islamic dress. Do not feel you have to compromise your modest dress to obtain an acceptable job. Your modest dress is a protection for you and it allows you to present a proper role model for your daughters and sons. If an employer will not hire you due to your dress code, then you are better off working somewhere else.
One can find numerous stories of sisters who removed their hijab to get a job and were still unable to find employment, then returned to wearing hijab and Allah provided them with decent jobs.
Opportunities for employment can be found in Islamic institutions as well as secular establishments which purposely seek out diversity among their employees. A closed door to opportunity is often an indication that a more favorable prospect exists elsewhere.
Our next and final part of this three-part series will discuss successful ways of disciplining your children more effectively without hitting or shouting.
Are you a single-parent? How do you run your household and what are some of your tips? Share them in the Comments section below.