I refer to the lecture by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, entitled “Speaking the Common Language”. Like always, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan’s lectures will usually be derived from a single verse of the Quran. From this verse, he will explain tremendously leaving the listeners to ponder upon just that one verse and realized how amazing the Quran is.
Nouman Ali Khan begins his lecture by sharing gems from his teacher, Dr Abdus Samih:
“When you’re going to give advice on anyone, just let the Quran be that speech.”
This lecture discussed on the hidden gems behind the famous verse from Surah Yusuf [12:4]:
Surah Yusuf [12:4]: (Remember) when Yusuf (Joseph) said to his father: “O my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves to me.”
The advice is about parenting, that no one has ever told you before…..
Have you ever seen a teenage boy, sees a dream, something that bothering him, and the first person he goes to is his dad?
Anything small goes wrong in your life, and you were thinking, maybe I should talk to dad about this. Does that happen? Is that what you normally do?
No. Not at all. If it’s a really big problem, maybe you’ll go talk to your mom. And when you do, the first thing you will tell is “Don’t tell dad.”
The fact that Yusuf a.s went to speak to his father, is already teaching father a huge deal. That’s the kind of relationship Yaacob a.s has established with his child by virtue. No matter how disturbing the child may be, the first person that Yusuf chose was his father, Yaacob. And he shared to his a father a dream, not even a reality event.
Imagine – whatever problem comes up, I should be able to talk to my dad no matter what. I should be able to talk to him. That’s the kind of relationship that Yaacob has established with his child.
He doesn’t has to come and tell him “If something happen you better come and tell me.” Yusuf himself come and tell his dad.
Before we even learn anything else about parenting in this surah, we’ve already learned something huge about what kind of fathers we need to be. How easily accessible they need to be to their kids. How easy should be a child to be able to come to the parents to say anything?
My eldest child, when she was in pre-school, she came home one day and said,
“Abah, Yousuf is so funny.” There was one kid name Yousuf in the class.
And I replied, “Who’s Yousuf? Tell me everything you know!”
My wife saw it from a corner, she said, “Nouman can I talk to you one second?”, and I came over “What is it?”
“You stay quiet.” And she took our daughter.
My wife talked to me and she said “Listen, don’t you see your child can think you are getting upset?”
“Yea I’m sure she could.”
“She sees there you’re getting upset. Next time when it comes to tell you anything about what happens in class, will she open her mouth or keep it shut?”
“Keep it shut.”
“She won’t say anything. She’s gonna hide things from you and it would be your fault. You can’t close that door on her. You just have to listen. It’s harmless. She’s 3/4 years old. Relax. Calm down.”
As a father, we have to train ourselves to calm down.
Interestingly enough, the word that comes up from Yusuf a.s, he began with “Ya Abati.” He’s about to tell his father about his dream.
In Arabic, when you say, “Ya Abi,” you’re addressing your father. But when you used “Ya Abati”, when you add the ‘ta’, it is a show of respect. It’s something like, “Oh my noble father. My respected father. My beloved father. Dad I love you.”
What we are learning is not only a child ready to communicate to them at any point. At the same time, he’s also extremely respectful. It’s the complement to the child, but at the same time it’s a compliment to the father.
What kind of father communicates openly with his child and at the same time maintains a relationship of respect?
When you get very frank with the kids, what happens? They run all over you. They become too casual and then you have to become strict because you say “I should be strict,” because that way they’ll show me respect.
We, parents are generally very harsh, and we think that’s how we are just supposed to be. They are supposed to be disciplinary, especially the father should be tough. So when you walk into the house, they should be absolutely silent. Everybody should drop what they’re doing and scream to each other, “Dad’s here!”
Everything was going well in the house, everyone is playing around, they are happening, “Dad’s in the driveway! Sit still! Don’t look around.”
There’s that kind of culture.
What Yaacob a.s has teaching us is the opposite. This child is most comfortable talking to his father even about a dream.
We thought the formula for getting respect from our kids is being harsh and mean. Being loud. Being scary. “That would be the way I will get respect form my kids.”
Then you’re coming to imam “My kids didn’t listen to me, what should I do?”
There’s no respect. And our idea, we become extra harsh, and we’ll get their respect.
If you’re open, if you’re a genuine friend to your children, if you’re the sources of nurturing and protection for them, you will have their respect like nothing else.
And you will maintain communication for them that otherwise cannot be had.
One of the biggest problem we have between parents and children is, children when they get older they stop talking to their parents.
When I first had a child, “Man this is hard.” Change the diapers, they are crying, they wake up at night, we have to burp them, you pick her up they won’t go to sleep, they got teething, they got the fever, all those stuffs – it’s really hard for early parenting.
You go to parents who have older kids, you go to them and say, “They get easier right, when they get into teenagers.”
And they said, “Nope. Enjoy this!”
I’d take this smelly diapers any day over my 15 years old. There is a gap, but there is something for the parents in creating that gap.
The crime is on both sides. I will start on parents side, especially the fathers. You come home from a long day of work. Sit down and all you wanna do is nothing. “I just want to watch TV, flip over all channels, watch news, and watch the stock market.”
You wanna check what’s going on in world, even though you won’t remember any of it. None of it you care, but this is the kind of entertainment. And then your 5 years old kid comes over.
“Dad, look at what I made.”
“Look what I did.”
“Day, play with me. Come on, let’s do something. Lets play tag.”
And they talking to you, talking to you..
And what are you doing?
“Could you leave me alone? I want to watch TV!”
“Can you just play with your toys? I just came home from work, I need some peace! I don’t want to hear this!”
“Don’t you have toys I bought you? Go play with those!”
Same child, 10 years later. He’s 15 years old. And you pick him up from school.
“So son how was your day?”
“What did you do?”
“Did you talk to any friends?”
“Where you gonna go later?”
“What you gonna do?”
“I don’t know.”
They won’t talk to you. Then you’ll find someone, tell the imam, “You know, my kid doesn’t talk to me.”
Because you didn’t talk to him.
You didn’t talk to him all this time. You didn’t have time. You didn’t create the relationship first.
And by the way, those are the critical ages 10,11,12,13. At those ages, children are most obsess with making their parents proud. It doesn’t even matter what religion are you from.
Just a pure child, in child psychology, young children just want to make their parents proud. They want to show their parents what they’ve done.
The biggest source of influence to them is their parents. Usually, kids wanna be like their parents. They wanna do everything their parents do.
If I’m sitting here typing on the laptop, even to my 2 years old, if I gave him toy, he throws that alone. He just wants to type on the laptop too.
Why? Because daddy is doing it.
They wanna be like you. But that changes as they get to a certain age. Now they wanna be like their other friends and more importantly they want to be nothing like you.
They want to be the exact opposite you are. They go through that pace. They are getting into a dangerous age.
And that critical age, if you didn’t already have that open, friendly, clear, transparent, loving kind of relationship, if that wasn’t already there, you’re in some serious trouble.
At a young age, Yusuf already showing respect and an open communication that is critical for both parents and child.
How many of us are having dinner at night with our children, and when you sit to have dinner, how many of you actually talking to your kids?
In the age of cellphones, and texting, and all of this other stuffs, and cognitive descending, you can’t carry real conversation with another human being, let alone your children.
And today, if you’re not listening when your kid is telling you something, your kids know it.
We have to become a good listener. The first thing we need to do is being their best friend. It takes serious work.
Parents, you guys also have to take into shape. Not for yourself, but for your kids.
You come home your kids wanna play with you.
“Aba, pick me up.”
“Aba, throw me up.”
Taking our kids hiking, playing sport with them. Take them to the backyard. Even if they play video games, play video games with them.
Do stuff with your kids. It’s a critical part of opening barriers, so they can talk to you about anything.
Because when they reach certain age, the need to talk to someone who will always be there. You would rather that person be you, not some spoiled friends, who will give some spoiled kind of advices.
You don’t want to discover your child has developed some bad personality later on life because you’ve never talked to them. And eventually wheh you actually engage in a conversation, and you were like, “Wou this is a different person, who are you? You’ve been living under my house all this years, when did this happen?”
“Oh it done been happen daddy. You just never knew. You were busy.”
You have to make special time for your children. It has to be their time. And if you have multiple kids you have to go out of your way to make sure each child gets individual attention, and time from you.
No toys. No gadget. No. Nothing. Just you.