My children have bad eating habits; how can I fix this problem?

eatingQuestion: My children do not eat the useful food I serve at home. They like the foods of the restaurants, chocolates, and sweets. This harms their healths. What would you suggest for me to do?

The answer: In general, our societies have incorrect alimentary cultures. Even what mothers serve at home lacks the required elements of nutrition. Moneys and efforts are spent for the taste and pleasure of food in their mouths. Most people do not care how useful or harmful to their bodies the food that they eat is.

As for eating in restaurants, it is reprehensible, as in the Islamic traditions and as some Ulama’ think. They consider it as eating in the roads or some other sort of suspicious eating. I think that this is not absolutely right, because there are restaurants whose owners care for the legal and health aspects. Besides, eating in restaurants cannot be said to be eating in the roads.

However, it is not recommended to have meals at restaurants often and always, as is customary in our present societies and (lazy) families.

You should read books about serving healthy foods and consult with a specialist doctor to determine the proper diet for the family. You would be better off using a lot of legumes in your foods besides vegetable oils, especially olive oil.

You should replace chocolates and sweets with fresh fruits. Vegetables should always be eaten with the meals. Nuts, such as pistachios, hazelnuts, and almonds, are important for the body besides honey and milk, which are among the basic elements of food for the family.

You should follow attractive manners in inviting your children to the meals served at home. Explaining the advantages and disadvantages of foods has a great effect on children and makes them decide whether or not to accept those foods. Parents can play an important role in attracting their children towards the home-cooked foods when they themselves eat these foods. Of course, children always imitate their parents.

One should eat food only when he feels hungry, and he should not eat excessively more than his need. Allah says, (…eat and drink and be not extravagant) , and the Prophet (S) said, ‘we are a people, who do not eat until we feel hungry, and when we eat, we do not satiate ourselves (we do not eat excessively)’.


Is it acceptable to let our children be educated by the media, schools and streets?

mediaQuestion: Someone who is unable to educate his children may say, “What is the importance of education? Let us leave our children to be educated by the media, the schools, and the streets according to the requirements of the present age, for man is the son of his age.” What do you think about this opinion?

The answer: I would say to such a person:

1. Your child is a divine blessing in your hand; if you neglect him, he will be a curse on you and on everyone having relations with you. Education is of the utmost importance, and it is not achieved properly if the people in charge (especially the parents) do not know its principles and successful manners.

2. “Your first child is a complete educational map to your other children…if you educate him properly, he will relieve you from half of your efforts in educating your other children.” “As you do not allow your children to go into water before you teach them the principles of swimming, do not allow them to go into the sea of life before you teach them the principles of dealing with others.”

3. Let your attitude towards education be: “the crying of your children today while you laugh and educate them properly is better than your crying tomorrow for their bad education and their laughing at their distresses” because “lenience at its time is like strictness at its time; both are required in education”.

4. Your children are your wealth in the future. The more you care for them today, the more fruits you will gain from them tomorrow, and the more you neglect them today, the more you shall suffer from their troubles and problems tomorrow.

5. Your children will be an evil over you in this life and torment in the afterlife if you do not educate them well.

After all this, would you say that education is not important?


My son monopolizes the telephone and spends too much money on phone calls; what can I do?

phoneQuestion: My son talks with his friends on the telephone for an hour sometimes. He does not pay attention to the cost of it at all. He neither lets others use the telephone nor does he leave the line free for someone who may need to call us for something necessary. He does not think of the time that he wastes in nonsense and repeated talks of trivial things mostly. What should I do with him? I would like you to advise him and those like him and guide me to a solution for dealing with him.

The answer: First, I would like to ask you to be patient with him. Do not try to interrupt his calls with his friends by unplugging the telephone line as some fathers do, because this insult will leave a bad effect on him, and you shall pay the price!

Second, do not make him feel that you are spying on his calls!

Third, you can explain to him the negativities of busying the telephone for a long time and wasting the rights of the other members of the family in making or receiving telephone calls.

Fourth, you can give him some advices derived from the teachings of Islam, such as “when one’s mind is perfect, his speech becomes little”, “the best of speech is that which is little but full in meaning”, etc.


My teenaged son keeps a very messy room, what can I do to break him of this bad habit?

messy room
My son is a teenager. He does not care for the cleanliness or arrangement of his room. He does not put things, such as books and clothes, in their places. Sometimes, he sleeps in his clothes that he wears when he goes out and sometimes even with his shoes. Everything about his behaviors is overcome by absolute disorderliness. I go to his room and arrange it properly, but after a short time the situation becomes as it was before. I am tired of his state, and I fear that he will remain so all his life.

The answer: I do not think that all the blame is on this young man. There might have been prior incidents in the family from where he has acquired this disorderliness.

He might have been so in his childhood. You should review that period to ascertain from where he has originally learned this disorderliness. He might have learned it from the manners of his parents or brothers, or from school, or from the environment he lived in and then he took that with him when he entered his youth.

Sometimes, parents do not teach their children how to undertake responsibility. A pampered child, who is given everything without making any effort, remains the same when he becomes a young man. He expects others to serve him as before. It is not right for a mother to say: “do not let my son be tired”, “I fear for him”, “let him rest”, “I serve him”, etc.

This way of education makes a child grow accustomed to irresponsibility, and when he grows older, he will not be able to manage his affairs, arrange his things, or organize his life, and this is the very failure.

The cause of disorderliness of the youth often stems from the kind of education they receive from their parents during childhood. So parents should not let their sentiments and excessive love for their children give them such a result later on.

Parents should teach their child that they will not undertake his responsibilities for him. Everyone has his own existence and duties in life. Cooperation is necessary, but it does not mean being lazy and burdening others with one’s own duties and tasks because this is an injustice and does not befit one with dignity and honor.

One of the reasons behind disorderliness in a young man’s life may be his discontent with his state for making him bored and aimless. Such a young man may be angry at something and so his disorderliness is a means of showing his anger and obstinacy to make others feel his suffering. Sometimes, the cause may be the state of adolescence and the change of instincts from which one suffers during the period of adulthood.

What is required in all these cases is as follows:

1. You should explain to your son the advantages of orderliness and its important effect on success and happiness in life.

2. You should inspire in him the spirit of undertaking responsibilities and encourage him with nice words of thanks and appreciation whenever he achieves something by himself.

3. You should not make yourself his deputy; rather, you should assist him in the task that he has to carry out. You can help him to carry out his duties, but little by little you should leave him alone to do his duties by himself.

4. You should teach him how to carry out some deeds and actions as a supervisor, without interfering in his achievement of them.

5. Let the things demanded from him vary and be free from monotony. You should not ask him to do things insistently or by threatening, shouting or begging.

6. You should not let him grow accustomed to stipulate certain things when you ask him to do something.

7. You should not punish him if he does not do what he promises to do.

8. You should be a practical example for him in all that you want from him, whether in orderliness, cleanliness, discipline, or any other good habits.


How should I deal with my toddler who asks incessant questions?

questionsQuestion: My three-year-old son asks too much about anything that he notices or that comes to his mind. Sometimes, his many questions make me bored and angry to the degree that I chide him severely or sometimes hit him on his back to make him stop questioning. Of course, this behavior is not right, but life has become so tiresome that I lose my patience and become irritable at once. I would be so grateful if you would offer your instructions in this concern.

The answer: Your son has the right to discover everything unknown to him. He wants a satisfactory answer to every question that comes to his mind. This is a sign of sound mentality and intelligence. Your behavior, which you confess is not right, suppresses his intelligence and does away with his activeness, and this is a great wrong against him. You have to remember this whenever your boredom leads you to that wrong behavior. That is first.

Second, you should pave the way for him to learn because knowledge will bring both you and him goodness, glory, and happiness.

Imam as-Sajjad (a.s.) said, ‘and as for the right of child, you should know that he is from you and he belongs to you in this life with his good or evil, and you are responsible for whatever you entrust him with (whatever you teach him or make him to be).’

Third, consider yourself in his position; if you were to ask one who was more aware than you but he chided you and insulted you, what would you feel inside yourself? How would your situation and love be towards him?

Fourth, you should know that children have a great ability to learn, and when they learn useful things, they will lead good futures. Imam Ali (a.s.) said, ‘He who does not learn in childhood will not progress when an adult.’

Dear brother, this blessing requires you to thank Allah by caring greatly for your son and being patient with him, because you are the closest one to him.

This is your golden opportunity to plant in your son moral concepts and the meanings of piety, wisdom, honor, and freedom, and then he shall enter into life from the correct and wide-open gate; otherwise, he shall enter into life from other gates unknown to you. In the first case, you will be delighted with his good education, and whenever you find him successful, you will be even more delighted. But, in the second case, you will be ashamed of him in society.

Fifth, when you respond to your son’s questions patiently, you assume a role like the role of the prophets and apostles in teaching man. Are you aware of this high position?!

Sixth, when your son asks an unexpected question and you do not know The answer at that moment, you can apologize to him leniently and tell him in a language he understands that you do not know The answer but you will bring him The answer later on.

Seventh, in your circumstances with your son, you should remember that the best fruits are those that absorb the most amount of the sun’s light. Ask yourself, are you the sun for your son?


My husband makes many promises to our children that he does not fulfill; how can I deal with this problem?

promiseQuestion: My husband often promises my children to buy them some presents, take them to the park, or something of that nature, but then he does not carry out his promises either because he is busy or because of an indifference I have noticed in him since we were married. I have been patient with him, but regarding the children, they are learning from him the bad habit of breaking promises. Would you please tell me how to deal with this problem?

The answer: The moral negativities in persons’ conducts cause many problems and pave the way for other negativities to come. However, Islam has treated these negativities with its great teachings concerning education, self-purification, and good deeds, but people, for the sake of their caprices and material pleasures, often harm themselves.

From among these teachings is the saying of Allah in this Qur’anic verse, (…and fulfill the promise; surely (every) promise shall be questioned about),

and the saying of Imam al-Kadhim (a.s.), ‘If you promise children (of something), carry out your promise because they see that you are the givers of their livelihood. Allah does not become angry for anything like He does for women and children.’

Muslim jurisprudents say that carrying out promises is obligatory and breaking them is unlawful. Rather, the traditions have considered breaking promises as one of the signs of hypocrites.

We also find a strong warning in this tradition reported from Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.): ‘The promise of a believer to his brother (believer) is a vow having no expiation. He who breaks his promise begins opposing Allah and becomes liable to His wrath, for Allah has said, (O you who believe! why do you say that which you do not do. It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do)

Imam as-Sadiq (a.s.) has also said, ‘Do not promise your brother of anything that you cannot carry out!’

I hope that your husband and those like him will ponder over these moral teachings in order to become happy by them and make you all happy with him.


How can I come to accept the changing relationship with my daughter as she has become an adult?

Question: My daughter is nineteen years old. My problem with her is that I cannot tolerate her arguing with me, though I know that she is right most of the time, but I still contend with her proudly. I remember her childhood and my efforts for her until she reached this age. I do not know how to persuade myself that she has become an adult. Now, she is not a child that I can impose my opinion on her.

The answer: This feature is a result of some or all of the following reasons:

1. Each one belittling the other

2. Not comprehending the development of man and life

3. Being proud and haughty

4. Being impatient and intolerant because of the difficulties that affect one’s nerves

5. Not knowing the subjects of discussions and disputes

6. Having an inferiority complex that leads to stubbornness and confrontation

7. The difference of intellects and cultures between the two generations

As for the solution, you should realize that your daughter has an independent personality in her understanding and existence, and this should make you proud and delighted. In order to realize that man is a developing creature, you yourself have to develop by reading continuously and by learning new ideas and news to enlighten yourself with that knowledge that concerns your life and your role as a mother who is still responsible in life.

Besides this, you have to have good manners as much as you possibly can in order to be the example that your daughter will imitate. You should know that your daughter is a part of you; what makes you happy makes her happy, and what makes her sad makes you sad. You should look at her through yourself, for you are the mother who gives all favors to her daughter, and she is the daughter who will be a mother some day and will then, practically, understand your favors and appreciate your efforts. Consequently, she must respect you and be dutiful to you if she wants her daughter, in the future, to respect her and be dutiful to her.

The problem between you and your daughter is the opposition between your ego and her ego. As long as you are still within the circle of your ego, you should not expect her to love you from the depths of her ego because selfish people often clash with each other while altruists harmonize with each other. So you have to be altruistic and give up selfishness.

When you change, your daughter will change her behaviors towards you. But if she does not change, you have to continue your new manner of dealing with her, expecting Allah the Almighty to reward you and, as a part of this reward, Allah may rouse your daughter’s conscience and she may then change for the better inshallah.

Here, I would like to give the following advices to your daughter:

1. You have to be humble; the sun with all its greatness becomes humble and sends its light and warmth to the little earth and makes it fresh and lively. We, also, are required to be humble and to descend from our pride to the warmth of life. Beware of pride, because the first eclipse of one’s soul is when he sees himself only.

2. You should regard the dignity and position of your mother in your heart, because your daughter may do to you tomorrow what you are doing to your mother today!

3. You should try to make your mother understand your opinions in a way that is full of love and respect.


Would you please show me the causes of the good and bad phenomena I find in children?

Question: I am a father and a teacher in a school. Would you please show me the causes of the good and bad phenomena I find in children? With great thanks.

The answer: There are correlations between the methods of education used and their consequences. Parents and those in charge of education should realize this fact. For example, on the negative side, the child who often hears criticism learns to criticize bitterly. The child who lives among enmities learns spites and grudges. The child who is often punished without being taught what he should or should not do learns injustice and aggression. The child who lives with fears learns cowardice. The child who lives with excessive kindness and pity learns humility and regression. The child who is often mocked at learns to live with a weak personality.

On the positive side, we find the child who is often encouraged learns self-confidence. The child who is accepted by others learns to love them. The child who is given knowledge learns purposefulness in life. The child who lives under cooperation learns generosity and liberality. The child who is treated truthfully and fairly learns truthfulness and sincerity. The child who is treated with love and kindness learns that life is beautiful. The child who is taught to bear sufferings becomes patient in life.

Since you are a father and a teacher in a school, your responsibility increases before Allah and the people. I hope that you live among your family with comfort and satisfaction with what Allah has given you. Thus, you will teach your children and your pupils how they can live without troubles. This is a firm basis in education. Paying attention to this basis and other bases of the task of education is a continuous necessity that will bring for you the delight of your heart with your children, your future, and the future of your religion and society. If you are successful in this life, you will be successful in your afterlife too.

Is the worldly life not the farm of the afterlife? Be careful of what you should plant in your children and the children of other people in the school, and you and we both shall see what you and they will harvest. And tomorrow is near for those who wait; therefore, take lessons, O you who have eyes! Dear teacher, may Allah make you successful in making pious people!


What are the most important education fallacies we live with due to the effects of foreign cultures?

Question: There is no doubt that we, due to the effects of foreign cultures, unknowingly live with educational fallacies. Would you please point out the most important of these?

The answer: Yes, there are many widespread errors that people do not notice, not even educationists. Here are some of them:

1. It is wrong to believe that education means habituating the child to a certain behavior without making him understand the goal of that behavior.

2. It is also wrong to think that the best education is the one that subdues and subjects the child to the parents’ will.

3. It is wrong to think that the correct education is manifested by the apparent behaviors without paying attention to the inward purity.

4. It is wrong to prevent a child from undertaking some tasks that befit his age and powers because if he does not become acquainted with difficulties, he will not be successful in undertaking his actual responsibilities in life.

5. It is a popular fallacy that when a child falls to the ground or collides with the wall and feels pain or cries, his parents hasten to him blaming the ground or the wall, and, in order to calm him, they beat the ground or the wall with their hands as a kind of punishment.

Here, the child learns false justification, unreality, and blaming of things instead of being shown the truth to recognize his actual mistake that caused him to fall to the ground or collide with the wall. If he is shown this fact, he will know how to avoid the same mistake again and will know that life means seriousness and not mockery.

6. It is wrong when a child falls to the ground for others around him to hasten to lift him from the ground. Thus, he learns dependency and loses the sense of independency and self-confidence.

7. It is wrong to frighten and threaten a child, and the worst of that is to frighten him by illusions or imaginary ghosts. For example, parents will describe to their child a monster coming from the darkness, or they will imitate a sound and tell the child it is the voice of the jinn, etc. In this way, parents make their child weak, cowardly, and illusive. Parents may mean, by frightening their child in this incorrect way, to calm him and make him stop crying, but they ignore the bad effects that will linger in the child’s mentality throughout his life. This is a crime that is unknowingly committed against the child.

8. Some people say bad and severe words full of debasement and humiliation to a lazy or an introvert child. This is another crime committed against a child suffering from a temporary psychological trouble that can be better solved by some lenient words, a warm kiss, or an embrace full of love and kindness.

In fact, the child who is tense at home, unsuccessful in school, and strained in society reveals the defects of his family or the deprivation his family has imposed on him. This is what educationists and psychologists notice in the personalities of the parents and close relatives of that child. Therefore, we find among the educational principles in Islam that it is prohibited to call one another by bad nicknames. Parents and others are not permitted to call the child with bad names that demean and humiliate him. Unfortunately, this is widespread in our Muslim societies!

We hear many bad words from the old when they call the young as if they were calling beasts! What would you expect from the young after that?

What is odd is that the old punish the young when they hear them uttering the same words they have learned from the old themselves! Children become confused before the contradictions of the old. On the one hand, they find their parents using such words, and on the other hand, they are punished when they themselves use these words. Children think that if these words are bad, then why do the adults use them, and if these words are good, then why are they punished for using them. It is not odd when we realize these parents, whom we call adults, have acquired this wrong education from other preceding adults, whether at home, in society, in school, or from the media. So, the problem is deeper than deep!


How should we deal with a son who was once religious but left religion?

Question: My son used to be very religious. He used to offer his prayers in the mosque and recite the Qur’an and other books of supplications. But when he became twenty years old, he changed little by little, and now finally, he has given up these rituals and mocks at them. How do you justify this case, and why has he become like this? Do you have any suggestions to save him?

The answer: If actions of worship are done out of understanding and satisfaction, they will not die away. Rather, they will take one to the highest degrees of nearness to Allah the Almighty, to spiritual and material happiness, and then to the eternal bliss of Paradise.

However, as for the opposite effect that appears in your son, it shows that his practicing of worships was without any apprehension of their essence. Before the age of twenty, circumstances might have taken him towards prayers, the mosque, the Qur’an, and supplications, and then at the age of twenty, other circumstances might have taken him towards the opposite side. Usually man slips into bad spheres through bad friends.

If the worships of your son were done with understanding and apprehension of the real meaning and goal of worship, he would influence those with whom he correlated and would guide them towards the right path and so would earn more reward for his afterlife, but since he was not so, he failed in the test and went towards the opposite direction.

I think reforming him will not be difficult. The one who can reform him should be wise in dealing with and advising him and should discuss the matter with him in a proper way. You have to look for someone with these qualities to associate, in a clever way, with your son.