Why I am Grateful for What My Brother- and Sister-in-Law Said!

Have you ever experienced a protective dad or mom moment with your child? How did you react or respond? Hopefully not like me.

I had a protective dad moment. It made me say something I shouldn’t have. Because I am imperfect and have moments of weakness and vulnerability. And because I don’t wear my counsellor’s hat all-day. I was angry and upset and said what I did. But instead of siding with me, my sister-in-law said something to me that blew my mind. So much so that it has stuck with me since and I will never make the mistake that I made again!

It started with a visit to Hume Islamic Youth Centre in Melbourne, Australia. If you have never been, you must go. It is a phenomenal place and environment. Islamic store, fine cuisine, prayer place and a children’s playpen – all under one roof. Just brilliant!

While waiting for our food, I decided to take my 8-month old daughter into the babies and toddler’s playpen area. She was enjoying herself when all of a sudden a young child entered the playpen and began throwing some of the toys around! I covered my daughter with my hand and was feeling quite annoyed by this time. Yet the child’s parents did not seem too concerned. Eventually my brother-in-law who was also present spoke up and the child left.

While sitting on the table I narrated my frustration to my brother- and sister-in-law.

“I can’t believe this child was behaving this way!”

Instead of taking my side, my sister-in-law said something that caught me off-guard and made me reflect.

“Just be careful what you say about others’ kids. You never know how our kids turn out.”

I had been caught criticizing someone else’s child.

A part of me felt I had the right to be annoyed. I was protecting my baby. A larger part of me, however, realized that my family was right. My daughter flashed before my eyes for the wrong reasons. I thought of her behaving like the child when she grew older. What would I do? The stories of the Prophets’ disobedient children came to mind. Immediately I supplicated for the child and his parents in my heart.

Being a parent is exhausting work. And despite our healthy investments in them, sometimes Allah tests us and them in certain ways, out of our control. As a result, it is up to us to do our best and still be tested.

The thing is that it’s very easy to become judgmental. Even if we don’t voice it, we may think it to ourselves inside.

“Oh, look how they raised (are raising) their children. Awful!”

“That parent doesn’t know how to care for his child!”

“Didn’t your parents teach you manners?”

All of these ways of thinking lack compassion, are judgmental, and toxic. As Muslims, we must remember that the Companion of the Prophet Peace Be Upon Him, Ikrimah (May Allah be pleased with him) was the son of a man who caused much grief to the Prophet i.e. Abu Jahl. On the other hand, there is the son of a noble Prophet and Messenger Nuh (May Allah be pleased with him), who refused to accept his father’s invitation to worship Allah as One.

Through my brother- and sister-in-law’s message, I was reminded that we must try our best as parents, be kind, compassionate, and gentle towards others’ children and parents, and make du’a for the guidance/hikmah of our families. After this, we must leave the rest to Allah.

And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers (Qur’an 51:55).

Alhumdulillah, I am thankful for having been reminded of this by my dear sis and bro in law.

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About the author

Ismail Shaikh is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 10 years of experience working with individuals and families with Psychosocial concerns. He is passionate about helping people care for their inner world and and their relationships better. In addition to working full-time on an Mental Health Team, he operates a private practice online at www.carekhalifah.com where he offers therapy services to the Muslim community. He is also a Legal Capacity Assessor for the Capacity Assessment Office in Ontario. He writes for various publications such as Virtual Mosque, Podium Magazine and Muslimmatters.org. He resides in Toronto with his wife and daughter. Got a question? Email him at ismail@carekhalifah.com.
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