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Nurture & Transform: A Woman’s Role in the Development of an Individual

An eternal bond created by grandparents, parents, spouses, siblings and children makes the fundamental unit of a society – family. It is an individual’s first sanctuary in a world of ambiguity. It is not only a source of comfort; rather it is a solemn feeling of love and support. Family being our first school, teaches us life lessons, socio-cultural/religious values, habits, responsibilities, connected through a shared history, experience and a lot more, consequently, helping in developing our personalities and shaping our futures. As Albert Einstein beautifully puts it, “Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life.” 



Islam has also placed special emphasis on family. No other institution enjoys more universal importance than ‘family’ because it is a safe haven where we experience our deepest flaws as well as major accomplishments. Although no society can be perfect, our societal shortcomings can be remedied if every individual promises to create strong familial ties. Strong family bonds not only encourage improved behaviour in individuals but also help them tremendously in outshining others in life; the continuity of that success depends a lot on the support of the people around us. 
Each member of a family has a vital role to play as they take on additional responsibilities, with women fulfilling the most instrumental role in the development of an individual. Our learning begins from the very second, we are born and we achieve this learning mostly from the women of the family (such as our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, aunts) as we spend most time with them. They are undeniably the strongest influencers in a household and have the inevitable responsibility of an individual’s growth and personality/character building. History is testament to the fact that lives of great men of the world have significantly been influenced by the women in their lives. So, it goes without saying that behind every successful man, there is a strong, supportive woman with a vision. 
God has bestowed women with definitive capabilities and power to uplift the nation to greater social, economic, political and educational spheres. They help their families to become accustomed to the ever-changing realities and trials of life. The quality of womanhood that assists the evolution of humanity from one level to the other makes her special. No wonder they say that a strong woman stands up for herself, a stronger woman stands up for everybody else. Women, as grandmothers, mothers, wives, sisters, or daughters, rightly steer the generation of both the sexes to lead the way towards brighter futures. 
A woman assumes a number of roles in the family, those of a mother, daughter, sister, wife, daughter-in-law, etc. When she wears the hat of a mother, she believes she has been reincarnated in the form of her children, and she starts seeing a new life in a new light with a new direction. She becomes their friend, their first teacher and mentor as well. They share a unique bond and relationship with their children, thus shaping their future. 
A mother inculcates emotional skills in her child’s mind right from the beginning because emotional prowess teaches them the lessons of empathy and compassion for others while honing their ability to deal with difficulties that life throws at them. An individual can unfortunately make adverse choices in the future if s/he lacks emotional skills. Similarly, another mandatory part of development revolves around the life skills; it comprises social, educational as well as physical development of individuals. This is when our mothers help us learn how to make it through the competitive academic life, or help us decide the right career choice. The role of a mother is not only limited to the nurturing of her children but she also keeps the family bond strong by maintaining and managing the entire family system. This is not confined to administering discipline or imposing behavioural standards within the house. Leading by example through her leadership and decision-making skills, she is developing the personality and character of an individual who would grow up learning and implementing the same in his/her future. Alexandre Dumas, a French writer, aptly stated, “Instruction is good for a child; but example is worth more.”
The other primary role of a woman starts when she becomes a wife. The influence of a wife is in an altogether different domain. Her role requires her to stand by her husband through thick and thin, through all his successes and achievements, and failures. A man faces numerous challenges in the outside world, and, therefore, needs positive energy, and that source of positivity comes from none other than a woman of substance who inspires in her man a sense of confidence and encouragement, who can relieve him of stress by maintaining peace and order at home. Wives who are conscientious and create satisfying home environment for their spouses are linked to greater job satisfaction, and also chances of promotion. Due to the innate tendency to model behaviours, the husbands start doing things in a way that simulates what their partners do, which subsequently develops new productive habits in the husbands. 
Another indispensable role of a woman contributing to the development of future generations is that of grandmothers. Both maternal and paternal grandmothers are a blessing and key to the development of an individual as well as an integral part of our culture and society. They have an experience of a lifetime and a wealth of practical knowledge, which allows an individual to face adversities with enriched confidence. They have a profound influence in an individual’s development and through their pearls of wisdom they pass on traditions and values inspiring an individual to strengthen the family bond. 
Often overlooked but one of the most important ones is the role that a daughter plays. The daughter-parents’ relationship is a lifelong bond, which is why Emily Giffin said, “A son is a son till he gets a wife, but a daughter is a daughter all her life.” Even after becoming a mother, a wife or a daughter-in-law, a daughter remains to be the greatest support for her parents, who is always ready to make sacrifices for her family. Islam enjoins great importance to daughters as they are both a means of salvation and a path to heaven for their parents. When a daughter is born, she shapes the people that are her parents; she develops a sense of responsibility in her father as he starts thinking about her future in every step of his life, consequently making him a better decision-maker; whereas for a mother, they share a unique bond where a daughter serves as her mother’s best friend, a helping hand and a human-diary to share all her sorrows and joys. Possessing the quintessential quality of motherhood, she is also her mother’s substitute for the entire family. In essence, a daughter is an embodiment of care, love and support to her parents; this certainly makes her an asset to the family.
Likewise, a woman is also an influencer in the role of a sister. She gives unconditional love and support to her siblings. Sisters act as confidantes, which creates opportunities for young individuals to develop a sense of social relations with family members and the rest of the society. This siblings’ relationship enhances our social skills and influences development almost as much as parenting does; it also helps us learn to manage disagreements. This relationship lasts a lifetime and, therefore, translates into opportunities for stronger family bonds.
Women truly do justice to Diane Mariechild’s quotation, “A woman is a full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” A woman wears many hats (read: crowns) in her lifetime because of myriad talents hidden inside her. Vision-driven women cultivate essential values and opportunities for the next generations. It is these different roles of a woman, which if played with earnest dedication, can flourish the future destinies of not only individuals but also entire families. This clearly reflects that women are born with certain values and morals, which are neither inherited nor adopted; they come as part and parcel of being a woman, enabling her to adapt all the different roles effortlessly. HH 


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