A friend and a reader of this series asked the following question after she read “How Geniuses Recall Information,” the third entry in the series.
“Wow! Intentional parenting in action.
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@Dr Ibraheem Dooba, please could you give us a glimpse of your parenting, I recall the last time you spoke about watching Netflix with your son and learning stuff. So we the young parents could learn from your parenting style.
With all your commitments, I’m amazed at how you spend time with him to achieve all these.”
I don’t think I spend enough time with my children. Sometimes when I come back home, I just want to be left alone. But I look forward to three things: the mealtime, the drive to school and after morning prayers.
During mealtime, I actually don’t contribute much other than the occasional comment or correction. If I’m the only one eating, I just watch them fight or make faces at each other. They can wrestle if they like. What is not allowed is hitting. When that happens the mother or I step in. I also share the food with them if they want it.
I think the parents’ presence alone in a safe environment makes the children feel protected and grounded.
But my favourite time with the kids is during the school run in the morning. Many years ago, Dr Musa Ibrahim, a former commissioner at PenCom, told me that he preferred to bring his children to school himself instead of asking the driver to do so. I didn’t understand why because I wasn’t married then and had no children.
But the drive to school is one of the most crucial time you can have with children. First, my youngest is the car captain. Her job is to remind the passengers and the driver to say the prayers of getting out of the house and the prayer for riding in a car. They all know the prayers. But the captain forgets her duty 90% of the time – the brother teases her about that. But she doesn’t feel offended and fulfils her responsibility immediately she is reminded.
On the way, my children tell me what’s happening in the school. It is also almost compulsory to listen to a story. I used to be the only storyteller. But now we take turns. While my son sometimes says he has no story to tell, my daughter always has a story – because she makes it up as she goes; “there was a little girl,” is her favourite line.
Recently, my son started bringing in a storybook to read to us.
Then I ask them to tell me the moral of the story. You must get them to say it. That will inform you whether they were listening and if they learned the right lessons from the story.
Then I give them quizzes. “What is 12?” I asked.
“12 is 2 x 6,
3 x 4 and
4 x 3,” my daughter answered.
I also give them my phone. For example, my son can use the stopwatch to clock his sister and ensure that she finishes the 4 times table under 30 seconds and the sister will ensure that he does his 12 times table under the same conditions.
They also learn some insights. “If you know 1 to 5 times tables and you know 10 and 11, then you know more than half of the remaining tables because the facts are repeated,” I explained.
They also ask me questions during the ride.
We don’t get to do all the things outlined above. But if we can do even one, it would have been a time well spent. If you don’t engage them, they would spend the time fighting and your role would be reduced to that of a referee.
The third quality time we spend every day is during morning prayers. We have no mosque in our estate at the moment, so we pray at home. Then morning azkaar – it is compulsory everyday. Also, for five days a week, we memorize the Qur’an. I learned this from my friend, Abu Abdurrahman Ya’u of CBN. Every morning, he studied the Qur’an with the son until he memorized the entire Qur’an at the age of 11 or 12.
The progress of my children and maid on the other hand is extremely slow. It took us months to memorize Suratul Jinn. A chapter of only 28 verses. But consistency is the most crucial goal.
Finally, I regularly leave problems on the whiteboard for them to solve. They are also free to leave problems for me to solve. My daughter, however, is the only one who uses that opportunity to torment me. One day, she asked me to write the 99 names of Allah!
In sum, as an introvert, I like to be alone most of the time, but I created some habits that make spending quality time with the children a daily affair.
I hope this helps. Let me know how you spend time with the little ones. I may also learn from you.
Series count: 10/100