There is a saying that says : one does not appreciate the blessings he has until he loses them.
It is a wise strategy to give kids what they want, especially when what they want is a good thing. This sounds like common sense. However, often times, parents do not give their kids these good things, thinking that they can give it to them "later". But this "later" often does not come, as the kids grow and lose interest. Let me give a few examples.
At a certain age, parents, especially ones with children in public schools, will pay anything to have their kids make friends with other Muslim teens. The teenager does not want boring Muslim friends. But only a few years ago, this same kid was begging the parent to take him to visit his Muslim friends. Had we fulfilled that desire back then, we would not be facing this problem today. The youth would have felt comfortable and engaged with his Muslim friends. Give kids what they want, especially when they are asking for a good thing, because you may lose this chance later.
Another example. At a certain magical moment in life, your child may have a desire to go to the mosque. You must capture the moment, and give her what she wants. You may be thinking: but they only want to go to play. That is fine. They go to play today means that they will more likely feel comfortable enough with the place to go to pray tomorrow. If they do not go to play today, then they will not develop the relationship to go to pray tomorrow. The place will be foreign to them.
Another example: Your younger child asks to participate with you in some chore, like going with you grocery shopping. You think: this is a messy deal, since it will only delay you. But in a few years, they may not be interested in much of what you’re doing. They may see most things that you are doing as boring. All they need from you is : to leave them alone. Going shopping is a chance to bond with them while doing an activity that you have to do anyways. You should also get them to help you in some ways while shopping (applicable for any kid above 3 yrs old). You can teach them things about food, money, healthy living, respecting others who are shopping, helping the family in different chores, etc...
Younger kids ask us for things that we pray to have the older kids do. The solution is to give these things to the younger kids, and not to wait for “later”, which often does not come. This will accustom them from a young age to this good behavior or practice.
Here are a few more examples :
- kids willing (or even desiring) to spend more time with you and with the family
- kids wanting to talk with you about their life and friends
- reading a book with you
- having you put them to bed
- giving you an opportunity to share your own life with them
- willing to take your advice on things
- going with you to one of your boring friends
- desiring to read the Quran with you
- Asking you to get them some Islamic book or Islamic song
The next time your kid asks you for something, stop and ask yourself: Is this a good thing? If it is good, don’t delay giving it to them. You will be willing to spend much more a couple of years later to have them do the same thing they are willing to do today.
Here is an extra credit for those who read to the end: if you really want to get mileage from this principle, do this : your kid is begging you for a good thing (say, to go to the mosque). Then, with a straight face, you think about it for a moment, and then you say: “well, I am not sure if I can do this, but I may consider it, if you help your sister with her HW”! You will not find this type of advice in Parenting for Dummies!
Please share your thoughts, and what worked for you in the comment section!