My husband and I tried to give our boys many different experiences, but one thing we couldn’t give them was a sister. As I said earlier, we had a name picked out, but Allah never gave us a girl.
We did teach them how to treat girls and women, though. It wasn’t very hard at first. When they were little, they all had female pediatricians. One day my oldest was looking at a picture book and where it indicated a nurse he said, “Doctor.” They all knew early on that woman have important roles to fill in society.
As they grew I wanted to teach them how to treat their future wives. I did it through a mantra: “You never hit a girl, you never hit a woman.” And as they got older they would try to trip me up with imaginary scenarios: What if she hits me first; What if she’s bigger than I am; What if. . .My answer was always the same: “You never hit a girl, you never hit a woman.”
I knew that abuse was, and is, an important issue in our society and I wanted to make sure my sons had no part in it. It helped that their father is gentle. In fact, that’s one reason I married him. He has never laid an angry hand on me, and I know he never will.
When I read about marital abuse I think about the mothers. We need to teach our sons early. Let them know that violence is not the way to solve problems. Then model that lesson. If enough mothers teach it, and enough fathers show it, we could eliminate abuse.
I won’t pretend that my boys were never “violent.” They’re boys. Occasionally they did hit one another or wrestle in anger. But more often it was in joshing, in fun. I worked hard to build bonds among them, and they have those still.
And my boys did wrestle. Oddly, the time they most wanted to wrestle was right before we prayed, after the call to prayer had been made and before we lined up. It seemed they needed to get out that excess energy before spending several minutes standing still and concentrating. There was a point, when they were a certain age, when this happened nearly every time. And I let them wrestle. I didn’t have anything breakable in the house and I reminded them not to break each other. They never did. They were always careful that way.
I think boys have a need to be active, to be “violent” in a positive sense. And I provided them those opportunities at home, with their brothers, in an environment where nothing would be broken and no one would be hurt. I’d like to talk more about boys and “fighting,” but that’s a topic for another post.