Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Difference of opinion between parents about how to raise the children


If the parents disagree about the way to raise the children, and neither of them thinks the way the other does, does the wife have to obey her husband in that which she thinks will lead to fitnah for the son – as his father wants to call him to account for everything great or small – or can she pretend to be obeying him in front of him, then do what she thinks is appropriate with her son after that, in accordance with the words of Allaah “Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell)” [al-Tahreem 66:6] and the hadeeth “Each of you is a shepherd”? Or is this advice addressed only to the wali (guardian), who is the father? Or is this included in the hadeeth in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no obedience to any created being if it involves disobedience towards the Creator”? Please advise us, may Allaah reward you.

Praise be to Allaah.

Raising children is a
responsibility that is shared by both parents. This is a trust which Allaah
enjoins them to take care of, each according to his position and ability,
and this great responsibility cannot be restricted to one of them and not
the other. 

It was narrated from Ibn
‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) that he heard the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “Each of you is a
shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The ruler of the
people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd
of his household and is responsible for his flock. A woman is the shepherd
of her husband’s house and children and is responsible for her flock. The
slave is the shepherd of his master’s wealth and is responsible for it. Each
of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.” 

Narrated by al-Bukhaari
(853) and Muslim (1829). 

Think about how the hadeeth
refers to the responsibility of each parent, so as to reinforce the idea
that each of them is individually responsible in this regard. And in the
hadeeth about the fitrah we see how children take their religion from both
parents, and not just one of them. 

It was narrated from Abu
Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no child who is
not born in a state of fitrah, then his parents make him a Jew or a
Christian or a Magian.” 

Narrated by al-Bukhaari
(1292) and Muslim (2658). 

With regard to fulfilment
of shared duties, Islam enjoins a means by which they are usually fulfilled
in the best and most successful manner, which is by means of discussion and
consultation. This may be the most important cause of family happiness and
successful rearing of children. The command to consult one another regarding
shared responsibilities is mentioned in the verse in which Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning): 

“If they both decide on
weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no sin on

[al-Baqarah 2:233] 

Imam Ibn Katheer (may
Allaah have mercy on him) said: 

i.e., if the parents of the
child agree to wean him before he is two years old, and they think that this
is good for him, and they consult one another about that and agree on it,
then there is no sin on them for that. It may be understood from this that
if one of them makes this decision on his or her own that is not sufficient
and it is not permissible for one of them to decide that without consulting
the other. This was stated by al-Thawri and others. This is safer for the
child and ensures that his interests will be looked after. This is by the
mercy of Allaah towards His slaves, as He has set out guidelines for the
parents in raising their child, and has enjoined that which is in their best
interests and the child’s. 

Tafseer al-Qur’aan
il-‘Azeem (1/380). 

Some studies indicate that
many marital problems that lead to divorce and caused by the absence of this
matter in the marriage, namely consultation in family life, or by some error
in implementing it. Discussion and consultation are an art and a science
which must be practised and exercised and understood. 

It is natural that the
parents’ opinions with regard to some shared responsibilities, such as
raising the children, will sometimes differ, and that is due to differences
in the background of the parents, or because of interference by some
relatives, or other reasons. But this should not lead to a crisis unless the
parents fail to reach an appropriate way of dealing with this difference of

There is a solution that
may be suggested to resolve the difference in the parents’ methods of
child-rearing, which is consulting a specialist or someone whom they may
easily consult about the problems concerning which they differ, who has
experience and can be trusted. Raising children is an art and a science in
itself on which studies are done and for which certificates are awarded.
Indeed it is one of the most important and precise of specialities. The
parents will always be able find some trustworthy specialists in
child-rearing, so they should consult them and ask their opinions concerning
the specific point of conflict. 

Perhaps if the parents
understand the serious repercussions that difference in opinion on
child-rearing will have on the son’s personality, that will make them
realize that it is essential to overcome this problem. 

The message that the father
wants to convey may be lost and its effects may be weakened if the mother
gives a different message, and that may lead to the son choosing the message
that suits him, and in many case he will come up with a third solution,
based on his own whims and desires. This means that it will be difficult for
the son to distinguish between right and wrong, halaal and haraam, and this
is the greatest threat to a sound upbringing. 

Differences with regard to
child-rearing may lead to the child hating one of his parents and may lead
to greater and greater problems at later stages, based on the depth of the
differences between the father and the mother with regard to raising the

So it is essential to have
agreement between the father and mother from the outset that neither of them
will send a different message to the children than the other, especially in
front of them. If there is any comment or disagreement to be voiced, then it
should be delayed until they can discuss it away from where the children can
hear them. 

It is also very important
for the parents to interact with one another honestly and sincerely. It is
not appropriate, according to sharee’ah, common sense, education or manners,
for one of the parents to pretend to the other that he or she agrees with a
specific point of child-rearing, when in fact he or she thinks otherwise and
does not do that. The other party will soon discover the deception and there
will be a loss of trust between the parents with regard to raising the
children, which will only lead to further problems, whereas being honest,
consulting one another and coming to mutual agreements will lead to
overcoming this difference of opinion and will help the parents to overcome
other differences too, when they get used to consulting one another and
working things out together. 

It is also essential to
remember that Allaah is always watching how we raise our children, and to
refer to the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger with regard to
principles of child-rearing in the event of any difference of opinion. If
the difference has to do with methods, then the way to solve it is by
consulting one another and discussing the matter, after which the one to
decide between them is a sincere and trustworthy adviser who is a specialist
or who has experience. If the parents are sincere in their intention to
teach the child the proper attitude and religion, then Allaah will grant
them a way out from their differences. 

Finally, it must be noted
that Allaah has created in women that which He has not created in man.
Emotion and compassion are stronger in women than in men, and reason,
willpower and management are stronger in men than in women. Attention should
be paid to this fact when there are differences of opinion between the
spouses, and perhaps if the matter is delegated to the husband that will be
very beneficial, if the husband is religiously-committed and wise. 

And Allaah knows best.

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