Justice in the familiy

March 15th, 2012 @   -  No Comments

Can you imagine your children plotting to hurt or kill one of their siblings because they perceive your love for him/her to be greater? Prophet Yaqoub’s (AS) older sons felt that way. They perceived that his love for them was not as strong as his love for Yusuf (AS). This perception was enough to motivate them to throw 10 year-old Yusuf (AS) in a well without any recourse. All due to their jealousy and the injustice they perceived in their father’s love.

Be just with your children

One day, owing to a request from his mother, An-Nu’man bin Bashir’s father  bought him a gift and  was to present it to him with the Prophet (PBUH) as witness. The father said to the Prophet (PBUH), “His mother, bint Rawaha, requested me to give this boy a gift.” The Prophet (PBUH) asked, “Do you have other sons besides him?” He said, “Yes.” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Do not make me a witness for injustice.” (Bukhari)

When you present your children with gifts and treats, do you give them each their share? How about when you return home, is your treatment towards them the same? Or perhaps you only smile towards and hug the youngest? What about when your children misbehave, are you fair in your reproach? Or do you punish one and allow the other to go unpunished for the same mistake?

Children can sense differences in treatment. Sometimes parents are aware of their preferential treatment, but don’t consider the short and long-term damage it can cause. In the end, favoritism is good for neither the favored nor overlooked child. For instance, it can lead to low self-esteem. Rather than fostering love and support, jealousy and conflict can take root among the siblings. They may even become resentful of the parent. And through the parent’s example, they can also learn to be unjust.

So how do you ensure justice? Being conscious of your treatment of each of your children is the first step. This is a continuous process. You can solicit your spouse’s help to spot any preferential treatment. Also, you can ask your children for feedback. If your child perceives that you favor another, do not become defensive or deny it. Instead, try to understand why they feel that way and discuss with them how you may improve the situation.

 

Once you are aware of any partiality in your treatment, you must endeavor to be just. Show love, support and affection to all of your children. For example, if you praise one, be sure not to ignore the others. If one child is a high-achiever in school while the other is not, you can still praise the high-achiever for his success. However, you must praise the other child for something else they are good at. Do not compare your children to each other. Children are different with different capabilities, one is not necessarily better than another. Try to see the strengths of each child and do not expect them all to be the same.

Stand up for justice

Justice is giving everything and everyone their due rights. We can prevent justice by letting our own interests and preferences dictate how we act, even if it harms others. But without justice, conflict and disorder take hold. So how can you teach your child to be just? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use stories. All of the prophets were sent to establish justice and their stories are excellent teaching tools. Also, history is filled with examples of people, nations and empires that thrived or collapsed because of their approach to justice.
  • Lead by example. If you teach your child to be just but you commit injustices, it will cause confusion. Align your actions with your message to get it across.
  • Teach and remind your child that Allah is just and likes those who are just.
  • If one of your children complains to you about another in his/her absence, be sure to listen to both sides of the story before you make any decisions. This way you ensure that you are not committing an injustice and you teach your child not to harm others by jumping to conclusions and listing to one side.
  • Encourage your child to treat everyone fairly, even those they dislike.

Part of being just is to stand up against injustice. First, teach your child to stand up for themselves. When their rights are being denied, they should speak up. If they are unable to do it on their own, they should ask you, a teacher or someone in charge for help. They should never give in to injustice.

Second, they should stand up for others who are oppressed, even if the oppressor is someone from their family or friends. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one.” People asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others” (Bukhari).

Do not allow your children to be oppressors

Bullying seems to be prevalent in many schools. In many cases, the reaction of the bully’s parents is surprising. Rather than rebuke their child’s behavior, they defend and may even encourage it. Since you are responsible for your child, if you learn that they are carrying out an injustice, discourage them from repeating it and correct their behavior. This is not only for the victim’s sake, but also for your child. As the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Be afraid of the curse of an oppressed person because there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.” (Bukhari)

Injustices are prevalent in the world and those who carry them out find ways to justify them. Our children are going to be the future leaders, employers, citizens and decision makers. These future leaders are made in homes and schools. So are we going to raise a generation that will carry out injustices or turn a blind eye to them? Or are we going to raise children who are just and fight for justice, not only for themselves, but for others as well?

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