Feeding your children is a form of charity.
The contribution made by parents and guardians when bringing up children and the effort involved may often be overlooked, but our Lord does indeed see everything and is always aware. We read in hadith:
Al-Miqdam ibn Ma’di reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “What you feed yourself is charity for you, what you feed your children is charity for you, what you feed your wife is charity for you, and what you feed your servant is charity for you.” (Musnad Ahmad)
We learn from this hadith that every effort we put in to feed our children is something that considered to be an act of charity. It builds on our good deeds. In fact, it may just be a part of our daily life so we may not notice it, but it will indeed help us in the Hereafter.
Sometimes there may be views portrayed in society that encourage parents and guardians to be strict disciplinarians that must avoid exercising mercy with their children. Having mercy may be talked about as something which results in children who are stubborn and unaccepting of other peoples’ opinions or instructions. Our religion teaches us to have mercy. We read in a hadith:
Aisha reported: A bedouin came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, “You kiss the children? We do not kiss them.” The Prophet said, “I cannot put mercy into your heart if Allah has removed it from you.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
This shows us that the Prophet (SAW) was indeed merciful towards children and did not teach people to be uncaring and overly strict. We also read in another hadith about the concept of showing mercy to children:
Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever does not show mercy to our young ones, or acknowledge the rights of our elders, is not one of us.” (Musnad Ahmad)
When we joke around with our children, we may see it as automatic and disregard how beneficial it really is for us. Not only does it help us to build a good relationship with our children, but we are also following the example of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). We read in a hadith:
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was the best of people in character. I had a brother who was called Abu ‘Umayr. When the Prophet would come and see him, he said, “What has the little sparrow done?” And he would play with him. (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
We learn from this hadith that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) would joke with children, so he was not a person who appeared as unapproachable or without emotion. He was caring and considerate about the feelings of others. He would not even leave children out when it came to giving greetings, as we read in the hadith:
Anas ibn Malik reported: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, would pass by young boys and greet them with peace.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
May Allah reward us for the mercy and patience we have with our children. Moreover, we can take care of our children. Aameen.