Bint, beti, anak perempuan, fille.
Do these words ring a bell? They are all words used to describe people like you and me.
So, who am I?
I may be a mother, a wife, a professional or a student. But before all of these roles, I was a daughter; you and I have been one all of our lives.
This is an insignia that I was born with. The others – wife, mother, friend, student – are fairly new.
I sailed through life, as we all do, cocooned in the warmth of my mother’s love and protection. I turned to my father whenever I fell down, secure in my knowledge that somehow he could always make it better.
It never crossed my mind that as I grew older, they grew old.
This is until one day, I just couldn’t ignore the growing wrinkles on her face, the slowness in his walk, their soft complaints when I forgot to send pictures of the kids to her or when I didn’t call, and the traces of loneliness vanishing each time I spoke to them.
That’s when I knew that I just had to up my game as a daughter. I had to stop blaming the physical distance, time difference and my busy life and make it work. Although the other roles in my life are extremely important, I knew I truly could not please Allah if my parents were not pleased with me. As we grow older, it’s natural that becoming students, professionals, wives and mothers ourselves can increase the distance between us and our parents, especially if we have to move to a different town or country.
In this article, I invite you to join me in my quest of being a good daughter to my parents, as I collect various ways in which each one of us can be the daughters that our parents raised us to be, focusing on how we can be good daughters when we live far away and also have our own family to run. I have used the good practices of my friends, family and believe it or not, my own daughter, to put together these ideas by which we can strive to make our parents happy in sha Allah!
1. Make dua for your parents
Ask Allah to grant them health, faith and forgiveness of any mistakes that they made in the course of their lives in every single dua you make throughout the day, especially if, like me, one or both of your parents have returned to Allah . There is no greater gift than that of a sincere dua.
The beauty of the Qur’an never ceases to amaze me. It is a friend who always holds our hand and guides us to what we need the most. The most glorious duas for parents can be found in the Qur’an:
“My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.” [Qur’an: Chapter 17, Verse 24]
“Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and (all) the believers on the Day when the reckoning will be established.” [Qur’an: Chapter 14, Verse 41]
2. Obey them
When we are grateful to our parents and obey them (when their commands are in accordance with the commands of Allah and His Messenger ), we are in turn worshiping Allah Himself, as Allah says:
“And We have enjoined on man to be good and dutiful to his parents.” [Qur’an: Chapter 29, Verse 8]
This may get harder if you live far away or are married. Try to show them that you are still available to them and are willing to help as much as possible. With the growing use of technology, it is not impossible to serve them even if you are far away. For example, I still send emails for my mother and I used to sort out bills for my father, even though I don’t live with them anymore.
3. Show them affection and care in every form
It simply amazes me how little it takes for us to please our mothers.
A phone call, sending pictures of the kids, a small gift, a glass of water as they enter the house, taking the heavy bags from them, giving up the more comfortable seating for them, answering them with a polite yes when they call out to us and asking them about their day are all simple ways of showing them affection and love.
I know of a daughter who is always sending pictures of the food she has cooked and the places she has visited. She also answers the phone at the time appointed to call, thus easing the anxiety of her mother as she is studying far away from home. Consistency in these actions requires patience and kudos to this daughter for doing that. She inspired me a lot!
You should always make it a point to call, update your parents regularly and do the small personal chores when visiting them.
If you do live close, starting an activity together is a great idea! Some mother and daughter duo ideas include joining Islamic classes, cooking classes and spa days. With the increasing use of technology, doing some of these things online is also very enjoyable: join an Islamic class online which you both attend together; you will share something unique (and immensely rewarding!) between the two of you.
4. Listen to them patiently
It’s so incredible that just as we had a lot to say when we were kids and our parents listened to us, now it’s our parents who have a lot to tell us about the daily things in their lives. Now, we should listen with attention and care. It shouldn’t be too hard, as we have grown used to our kids or siblings or friends who always have so much to tell us!
How many of us are guilty of speaking with impatience or rolling our eyes in front our parents or behind their backs?
To be honest, even now when I don’t agree with her opinions, I constantly get those silent looks which clearly tell me that I am “not listening” to my mother.
In another case, I observed how two daughters reacted differently to their mothers’ anger: one sat quietly next to her mother while the other one argued back the whole time!
Which one do you think ended up earning both Allah’s reward and her mother’s good will?
Of course, the one who didn’t argue back!
So our motto from now on is: no arguing with parents! Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” [Qur’an: Chapter 17, Verse 23]
5. Visit them
If you are married and live in the same city, it is important to have an agreement with your husband to visit your parents or invite them at least once a week, in order to have a routine and something for you all to look forward to. If you live in a different country, always have the intention to visit your parents and make dua for Allah to facilitate this.
6. Stay connected
If you are like me and live far away from them, call them often, very often. Even if it’s a five-minute call, do try to fit it in. Especially make use of video chat apps and devices. I personally don’t like clicking pictures as I go about my day, but I realized that seeing those pictures of me and my family going about our lives has helped ease the pain of distance and time in my mother’s heart. Seeing pictures of my kids as they leave for school, of us going to a party, or just simply of the mess that I need to clean up, makes my mother feel a part of my everyday life. And all it takes is a click and a flick of the send button on WhatsApp.
7. Aim to be more righteous
Striving to be a better Muslim is always productive, as it benefits so many people especially your family, as Prophet Muhammad said:
“When a person dies, all action is cut off for him with the exception of three things: sadaqa which continues, knowledge which benefits, or a righteous child who makes supplication for him.” [Al-Albani]
Do you feel that bittersweet emotion of being a daughter too? On one hand, daughters can be more of a friend and confidante to parents than sons, but on the other hand, we feel sad because of our inability to live and serve them freely due to the responsibilities we have towards our husbands and children. But there is no need to despair, sister!
There are so many ways in which we can still serve our parents even if we take on other roles in life. Do you have any additional ideas or tips on how you serve your parents from a distance? Please share your story with us, so that we may also learn more ways to be more productive as daughters and sons too, in sha Allah. I comfort myself by thinking this is the decree of Allah . I ask Allah to bless our parents and guide us in fulfilling our duties to them in the best possible manner. Ameen!