A father is not just an outside-wage-earner whose job it is to merely provide his family with food and shelter. His role is much greater and more helpful than this limited description. Although feeding and providing for children’s needs are an important way of saying ‘I care,’ they do not produce emotionally balanced and healthy adults.
In the past, fathers were seen as people to be feared rather than as loving parents with whom children could relax with and talk to. There are people who believe that showing too much affection towards children shows a lack of ‘manliness.’
I wonder if these people have read the biography of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), how he dealt with children, how he played with his grandchildren, Hasan and Husayn, carrying them on his back and holding and kissing them. When a Companion told him that he did not kiss or hold his children, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam)’s answer was ‘What can I do for you, if Allah has torn the mercy from your heart?’
Though he should be a symbol of force for his children, being strong does not mean being cruel and should not be associated with beatings or remoteness. It means being strong in his faith, patience, emotions, self-control, and determination.
When actions are motivated by love, the father will succeed in disciplining his children and teaching them manners. This is often the fun part of fathering, because one of the best ways to nurture children is to play with them. Other ways include hugging, listening, sharing activities, and just goofing around together. Our Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) often played with children, kissing them and laughing with them. He taught us how to be effective parents. Psychologists are now discovering the benefits of what our Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) did more than 1400 years ago.