Five Effective Strategies to Strengthen Your Family Bonds

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    The home is our most precious asset. I don’t mean just moneywise. What determines its preciousness? The strength of the family bond, respect and trust. The family bond is ‘a confident-loving relationship with each other’. It’s a home free of fear, agony and worry. Inside these four walls, we find care, a canopy of love, a warm atmosphere and a welcoming sanctuary.

    Cultivating a thriving family environment

    The family is the foundation of society. The Majestic Quran emphasises its role in nurturing law-abiding and God-conscious people. It tells the husband and wife to “live graciously with one another” (Al-Nisa:19). The beloved Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Your best charity is to spend on your family” (Muslim). The Quran guarantees parents that if they bring up faithful and mindful children they will rejoin them in the hereafter, “The believers whose children followed them in faith will be united with them in Paradise” (Al-Tur:21).

    How can we build this bond? It all depends on the behaviour of parents, children and others living in this haven of peace. But the most important is the Chief Executive Officer (mum)! I can hear someone screaming in the background no, it’s dad! Well, I’ll let that argument rage on … All I’m interested in knowing is how can I build family bonds? It boils down to care and love, exhibiting excellence (Ihsan) and doing a good job all around. Through that, we will know mum and dad are serving the family’s best interests.

    Here are five tips on how to strengthen your family bonds:

    1. Show kindness and humility by promoting a feedback culture at the dining table. Should you be asking your son or daughter or vice versa: “What do you think of this? Or what could we do to make things better?” We should know each other well enough, but sometimes it’s necessary to show empathy and to pinpoint potential issues and nip them in the bud.
    2. Cultivate a space for respectful argumentation that builds trust and connection. When there is controversy or disagreement then avoid aggressive attacks and gossip, instead communicate so there’s no confusion. Ensure inclusion of all parties, to avoid isolation, don’t allow separation due to selfishness that could create greater problems. A family-oriented daughter told me, “I often argued with my mum about small and big things. Sometimes I felt really crushed, but I was always ready to go again the next day”. That’s the spirit of a forgiving and caring family.
    3. Ensure everyone is talking and ready to admit their weaknesses. Encourage and praise those who show their vulnerability, thus recognise this with empathy. Don’t use the argument of entitlement, it doesn’t work anymore. Yes, last century there was something of that kind, but social media has democratised us all. We are all equal! So, no grand titles. Sorry, there are no special ranks either. Sadly, demand for entitlement is regarded as abuse and blackmail. A sign of Qiyama, says grandad. Instead consider respect for all, trust, care and humility that will lead to more care at home. The stress is on serving and caring. Doing away with VIP treatment might beguile someone to be special and therefore have a sense of superiority and loss of accountability. Does this mean no more adab for mum and dad? No more kissing their hands? Of course not, as an Imam with experience of half a century, I sense the dawn of a new age, a Sci-Fi world run by AI. I am not asking for any sympathy, thank you.
    4. Benefit from the wisdom of grandparents and relatives. Ask them to be your mentors and guides. People from whom you can learn. “Give reminders, since reminders benefit” (Al-Ala:9). I have seen families that respect their elders thrive. They listen to them and benefit from their wisdom. This means inviting these wonderful, wise people into your homes providing them with lunch or dinner and sitting and listening to them. Yes, it costs time and money. Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
    5. The Muslim home is a Masjid, which means a place of worship, faith in Allah’s providence, prayer and remembrance. Whilst the Messenger (peace be upon him) prayed his Fardh prayers in the congregation at the Masjid, he would return home and pray the optional prayers. He gave this advice “Pray, recite the Quran and remember your Lord at home, this will prevent your homes from becoming derelict”. Pray in the congregation at home. A family that prays and plays together remains together. Mothers can lead young children in jamaat at home. Get children to recite the dua loud.

    Conclusion

    Family is wonderful, so nurture it to make it strong. I suggest using kindness, openness, and plenty of communication to strengthen family bonds. Also, involve elderly parents and relatives for support. This all takes place in a home that resembles a masjid – clean, with prayer mats laid out, ready for Salah. Finally, for the young folks considering their future, please explore the potential advantages of arranged marriages. We’ll delve deeper into this topic soon, God willing.