A Successful Son

The Stereotypical Picture of Success

We all have different perceptions of what a successful son might look like. For some, it’s about having raised a young man to stand on his own two feet financially. For others, it’s about academic achievements and yet for the rest, it may be about neither of those things necessarily but more about good character overall.

The truth is, a successful son probably embodies all of those elements above in varying degrees. And more. As time moves on, I know my definition of it has become more fluid. I am less and less fixated on the worldly or tangible measurements of success such as a degree or a high-flying career. I’ve definitely never been one to covet material wealth and feel it’s one of the most nauseating characteristics of any individual. That’s why the latter scenario does not constitute success since more often than not, people flaunt their wealth and there’s an associated arrogance that comes with it. Not the most inspiring people to emulate.

Dangerous Distractions and Delights

As I mature in my own age, so too does my outlook on life. For my children, what has always remained constant though is the need to inculcate good Islamic values since this is what underpins everything they do. No career aspiration or academic goal is worth anything without this. It is the foundation upon which everything stands. So if my sons’ goals are not realised or if they fall short in some way, I hope I will stand true to my word insha’Allah and recognise that they are not failures. Failure (and success) is too often measured in very narrow terms – in light of someone’s academic trajectory and/or career path. All this is born from the fact that parents project their own definition of success onto their children because they themselves are victims of society’s expectations. It takes a brave individual to dare step off the hamster wheel and see this for what it really is.

Whilst there is every need to guide our kids, there isn’t an absolute necessity to impose our perceptions onto them. They must be allowed some room to explore their own strengths and weaknesses for themselves. On the other hand, they should never be completely left alone to become complacent about life. They could learn a few things from their parents’ personal value systems.

I am mindful of the need for my sons to be decent, kind and respectful human beings – essentially to be good representatives of Islam. Although these are qualities that have no official certification awarded to them, they should be at the core of their existence. These traits have to permeate all the things they put their minds to in order to carry them through to a good final destination beyond this life, insha’Allah. In essence, the qualities I value in my sons are that they strive to do their best in every aspect of life and remember humility at all times.

We are all works in progress especially our spiritual beings. Whilst success is not an elusive thing, I do believe it is ever-expansive such that we can never quite say we’ve reached our full potential. There’s always room for improvement. Acknowledging that is a form of success in itself. Knowing that Allah is the ultimate Judge of success is what should motivate us each day to do more and give more rather than take more. We pour from our own jug -a jug which we must fill ourselves. Nobody else can be expected to fill it.

For my own sons, I measure their success according to what is expected of them as Muslims; not what my fickle mind tells me is acceptable. I think society still has a long way to go whereby there needs to be a shift towards focussing on the internal qualities of a person rather than the external accolades accrued through school and work per se. Perhaps our children will have better self-worth and eradicate the feeling of failure if we stop placing our own egoistic values on them.

Learning to Fill and Pour for Ourselves

One thought on “A Successful Son

  1. Absolutely true. I wish I had some of this wisdom when I was a younger mum. As many of us were on that competitive race with our children. Always worrying if other kids were more academic than ours. Perhaps feeling envy towards them and pressurising our kids by comparing them always. Let’s hope future parents will learn from us. Although looking at the world today is very scary as children have so much pressure besides academia on them.


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