Interview

Is A Harmonious Family Life A Myth?

 

 Intan Maizura Ahmad Kamal [New Straits Times Malaysia] interviews Jamilah Samian. 

HARMONY in the home… is it just wishful thinking? Cradling a cup of coffee in my hands like my life depended on it, I am seated with a friend at our local cafe one glorious Sunday afternoon as she wails about her distress at the state of affairs in her home.

The young mother, a driven career woman with a doting husband and three boisterous children, is feeling low and semi-murderous as she contemplates aloud how she never gets time to herself, how the children are giving her daily migraines with their constant whining and tantrums, how her husband is just not proactive and how, despite having a maid, she ends up doing most of the work because of the latter’s inability to comprehend simple instructions.

“I have no problems with work… I enjoy it. But it’s the madness at home that’s getting to me,” she confides, wrath eventually subsiding as she finds solace in the cup of steaming coffee that has suddenly materialised in front of her.

Her predicament isn’t unique though. In fact, many people I know are still searching for that seemingly elusive state of harmony at home. It’s either the spouses can’t see eye to eye or the children are always arguing among themselves or with the parents. There’s just so much pain and strain, and most of the time, members of the family end up being emotionally drained due to the time and energy they have to spend on “fire-fighting”.

With Maulidur Rasul (the birthday of Prophet Muhammad PBUH) soon to be upon us, the topic of peace and harmony in the home feels  rather timely. After all, the holy Prophet was the epitome of peace and harmony for the tolerance and kindness that he practised, even with his worst enemies.

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS


“Let’s define family harmony and peaceful home life first,” suggests parenting and family expert and author Jamilah Samian, when we meet over lunch to discuss this very topic.

“If what you expect by family harmony and peaceful home life is a family where nobody ever gets upset and everybody’s always smiling, of course it’s not very realistic.”

But, adds the soft-spoken mother-of-six, it is possible to have a family home life that’s harmonious and peaceful MOST of the time, which is something that we should all strive for. After all, the home should be both a physical and emotional sanctuary for parents and kids alike.

Jamilah says: “In the Quran, Allah says ‘And among His Signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He put love and mercy between your hearts. Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.’ (Surah Rum: 21). This is a very important concept. With marriage, we start a family of two. One of the reasons why we marry is so that our spouse can become a source of tranquility, motivation and inspiration for us and vice-versa.

“And it’s not just the husband and the wife. The children should also be a source of inspiration and motivation for one another too. It’s the ideal we work towards.”

Achieving a peaceful home life depends a lot on you and your spouse. Jamilah adds: “It’s like you’re given a piece of white cloth with all kinds of brushes and colours. The onus is on you to paint the cloth with the colours you want. You have to put in the effort in order to create the kind of family atmosphere that you want.”

If your family isn’t as harmonious as you wish, find out what’s wrong with it, she advises. Is there tension between you and your spouse? Between the children? Between parents and children? It’s important to state the problem for a problem well stated is a problem half-solved. “If you think there are just too many problems, focus on one problem at a time and never sweep things under the carpet,” she advises.

CREATING HARMONY AND KEEPING IT


Parents, believes Jamilah, are the ones who set the tone. “Unless you’re a single parent living with only your children, how you deal with disagreements between you and your spouse, between you and the children and between the children themselves will become the trend in the family.”

It’s important to reflect on your attitude and perspective towards conflicts and disagreements. She says: “Disagreements aren’t necessarily bad. It’s how you deal with them that matters. Disagreements can open doors to better understanding and may even enhance relationships but only if each party is given time to air their feelings and misunderstandings are resolved fairly.”

Once some semblance of home life harmony is achieved, strive to keep it. Family dynamics, Jamilah points out, are never static, so it’s vital that we show our family members positive and productive ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.

Why not make use of modern technology, suggests Jamilah, to forge a closer bond with the family. “Whatsapp for instance, is great. You can create a family group where you can post positive thoughts and discourage negative ones.”

Balancing your attention to all members of the family is very important or you risk creating jealousy and resentment. “If each family member feels valued, there’s less chance for disharmony to rear its ugly head. If you need to correct someone, be discreet about it,” she advises.

Extol the virtues of persistence in your children. “Remind them to never give up and to believe that they have it in them to succeed. Rather than giving solutions to their problems, guide them through their frustrations instead,” she adds.

Ultimately, concludes Jamilah, it’s all about knowing that you’ve done your best. “For as long as we live, problems and challenges will be an integral part of life.”
Read more: FAMILY: Home life harmony – Sunday Life & Times – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/life-times/sunday-life-times/family-home-life-harmony-1.460088#ixzz2qFTzs4bI

About Jamilah Samian

Jamilah has written 540 articles.

Jamilah Samian is an author and speaker.

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