It goes without saying that most parents love their children dearly. It is a natural instinct placed by the Almighty into the heart of all parents. This love for children is a sign of the wisdom of Allah, for without it no parent would have borne all the pains and troubles of raising a child. However, many parents think that children know, without being told, that parents love them. They do not realise that children need to be reassured constantly.
Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with her) narrated that once a villager came to the Prophet and asked him, “Do you kiss young children? We do not kiss them.” The Prophet said,
“What can i do about it? Allah has removed the essence of mercy from your heart.” (Bukhari)
The effects of love must be evident in the speech and behaviour of the parents. Children do not have the wisdom and insight of adults to realise that even punishments and reproaches are signs of love. They often perceive the actions of the parents as a proof of the lack of love. It is thus very important to display love to the child, or at least inform him about it in subtle ways.
The display of love varies with the age and level of the child. It is most important at the very young age when children need to be cuddled and hugged. For a baby, physical display of love is necessary for positive growth and development. All through the toddler years physical affection remains the most prominent way of displaying love.
In another Haddith narrated in Bukhari, Muslim, Abu dawood and Ahmad, Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah kissed Sayyidina Hasan bin Ali (his grandson). Aqra’bin Habis al-Tameemi who was sitting next to him said, “I have ten children and i have never kissed any of them.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) looked at him and said,
“He who does not show mercy is not shown mercy.”
As the child grows, this changes to less direct ways of showing affection. The occasional physical touch is still necessary, but is not the main way of showing love. Now the child has various needs and desires. To be considerate of his desires, talking to him constantly, reading to him, taking interest in his schoolwork etc. are all part of love. Love shows its bright face in the form of a smile, a tender tone, a patient ear, etc. A parent’s full attention tells the child he is loved enough to warrant it.
The older child has friends who are every important to him. To give importance to his friends is a good way of displaying love for him. Generally speaking, when a parent gives positive attention to the child, apart from the regular chores of bathing, feeding, etc. the child understands that he is loved.