When you attend public lectures or gather with friends to have serious conversations, do you include your child? Most parents would either leave their child with someone to baby sit, leave their child with the child care facility or shoo their child outside or the back of the room to play with other children. The more responsible choice would be to let your child accompany you and sit next to you so they can be in the company of other adults to learn and mature.
There are a few ahadeeth that tells us that during Prophet Muhammad's time, peace be upon him, the children would sit with the adults.
Abdullah Ibn Omar narrates saying: “We were at the Prophet’s house, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, he got out palm pith, then he said: “Among the trees (there is a tree) that is like a Muslim .(What is it)?” I wanted to say the palm tree, but I was the youngest among them all so I kept quiet. The Prophet, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, said “It is the palm tree”.” [Agreed upon]
And Sahl Ibn Sa’d says: “The Messenger of Allah, prayer and peace of Allah be upon him, had something to drink, so he drank and there was a boy on his right and elders on his left so he asks the Boy “Do you give me permission to give them?” the boy replies, “No, by Allah, I wouldn’t give my share from you to anyone”.” [Agreed upon]
What are the benefits of letting your child sit in the company of adults rather than relegating them to chat and play with other children? Basically, your child will learn through adult modeling behaviours.
1. Learn social skills
When your child sits with adults they'll learn how to interact with others by taking turn to listen and talk. They'll learn the social manners that is necessary for meeting and socialising with others.
They will watch how adults interact with other adults and learn that we respect our elders by the way we listen to our elders. They learn that it's not okay to talk to our elders the way we talk to our peers.
2. Learn how to behave with maturity
By being around adults and observing how adults act, your child will learn how to act like an adult, that is, they learn how to be mature. If they're around children all the time then all they will know is how to act like a child.
This is not to say that you must make your child sit still with you all the time. From the age of seven and up, on the occasion that you attend an adult function, it will be a good change for your child to learn new skills.
3. Learn in-depth thinking
When your child sits and listen to adult talks on in-depth Islamic topics and politics, they learn more about the world around them and more about Islam on a deeper level. They might not understand it all but they will get the feeling that there is more to the world than what they know. It might open their eyes to new ideas and knowledge.
So instead of relegating your child to the child care section of the function that you're attending or leaving them to their own devices with the groups of children in the back of the room or outside the building, take your child inside with you and sit them next to you. Encourage your child to sit quietly and listen.