Among the factors which build up man’s personality are the family environment and parental guidance. The latter factor is of crucial importance in child’s life, especially in his life manners and etiquette.
Since in Islam “adab” or “good manners” are used to evaluate one’s amount of education and are recognized as the best indicator of one’s personality, therefore, training one’s children in this aspect is given great gravity in Islam.
In his treatise on law, Imam Zayn al-‘Abidin (as) says concerning this issue:
“وَامّا حَقُّ وَلَدِكَ فاَن تَعلَمَ انَّهُ مِنكَ ومُضافٌ اِلَيكَ في عَاجِلِ الدُّنيا بِخَيرِهِ وَشَرِّهِ وَانَّكَ مَسؤولٌ عَمَّا وَلَّيتَه بِهِ مِن حُسنِ الاَدَبِ وَالدَلالَةِ عَلى رَبِّه عَزَّ وجَلَّ وَالمَعُونَةَ لَهُ على طَاعَتِهِ فَاعمَل في اَمرِهِ عَمَلَ مَن يَعلَم اَنَّهُ مُثابٌ على الاِحسَانِ اِلَيهِ، مُعاقَبٌ على الاِساءَةِ اِلَيهِ”
“It is your child’s right on you that you should know that he is from you and will be ascribed to you through both his good and his evil in the immediate affairs of this world. You are responsible for what has been entrusted to you, such as educating him in good conduct, guiding him towards the path of his Lord, the Almighty, and helping him to obey Him. So act toward him with the action of one who knows that he will be rewarded for good doing toward him, and punished for doing evil to him.”3
In accordance with our religion leaders, other children’s rights are: selecting good names for them, reading Qur’an, swimming, shooting, providing them with jobs and spouses, feeding them rightfully and housing them appropriately.4
As we have seen before at the adulthood, like at the time of childhood, man’s spirit is malleable. Whatever changes the child is exposed to is eternal. Regarding this, Imam Musa ibn Ja’far al-Kadhim (as) has said:
“مَن تَعلَّمَ في شَبابِهِ كَانَ بِمَنزِلَةِ الرَّسمِ في الحَجَرِ وَمَن تَعَلَّمَ وَهُوَ كَبِيرٌ كَانَ بِمَنزِلَةِ الكِتابِ على وَجْهِ المَاء”
“Learning in one’s youth is like writing on stone. But learning in old age is like writing on the surface of water”.5
3. Shaykh Saduq’s Khisal, vol.. 2, p.350.
4. Kanz al-‘Ummal, Hadith 35340; Hikmah’s Nahj al-Balaghah, Hikmah no.399; Bihar, vol.74, p.80; Bihar, vol.74, p.85; Kanz al-‘Ummal, vol.16 Hadith 45409 – 45411.
5. Safinah al-Bihar, vol.1, p.680, item “Shabab” (Youth).