Home Quranet Chapter 3 Is it fair to burden a young girl with maternal tasks?
Is it fair to burden a young girl with maternal tasks?
Chapter 3

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ لاَ نُكَلِّفُ نَفْساً إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا أُوْلَـئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ هُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ (سورۃ الاعراف, آية 42)

But those who believe and work righteousness - no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear - they will be Companions of the Garden, therein to dwell (for ever). (Surah 7, Verse 42)

Sara is in the sixth grade. Until recently she was an outstanding student, responsible, quiet and polite. Her class teacher was surprised when Sara's grades dropped significantly over a few months. She was often absent, and the teachers reported that she was not preparing her homework. The teacher called Sara to her home room to talk to her. She asked about the reason for the frequent absences, low grades and failure to prepare homework. Sara gave the same reply to each question: "Don't know." Then she started crying and ran out.

The teacher summoned Sara's parents for an urgent meeting. She told them about their daughter's grades and asked about her absences and failure to do homework. The parents glanced at one another and said nothing. The teacher was puzzled by their expression but persisted. "I want to help Sara. What's wrong with her? Tell me?" They remained silent. "Is she sick or is something troubling her?"

And then the mother said: "The truth is that I have two boys at home aged one and three. I work all week and I leave them with their grandmother. When she is not available I leave Sara at home to look after them. When I come home from work, the household chores are waiting, so Sara continues to look after the babies. I ask her to do her homework when her brothers have gone to sleep but sometimes she falls asleep before them and doesn't have time to do her homework...that's the whole story."

"The whole story..." cried the surprised teacher. "Your poor daughter! Do you know that you are burdening her with too much responsibility and work and not allowing her to live or study. She needs leisure time for herself to spend with girls her own age. You must find another solution for the boys. Look at her and you'll see that she is exhausted and frustrated. She is a human being and she too deserves to be a child and a girl and a pupil and not a mother at her early age. Do you know verse 42 in Surah 7. I want to read it to you: "No burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear." Remember that your children are your responsibility and not Sara's."

Explanation: Sara's sad story is the story of many young girls, sometimes, but not always, from poor families, who are burdened in childhood with maternal roles because there are many children in the family and the mother is unable to tend all of them or because the mother works, or simply doesn't want to work hard. Sometimes this was the mother's fate as well in childhood and she is continuing the tradition and imposing the same bitter fate on her daughter. The girls miss out on childhood years and instead of having fun and playing with their friends, they act as mothers at an early age. They are liable to drop out of school and remain uneducated. An uneducated mother who is not acquainted with the world will sometimes find it hard to raise successful children, capable of becoming useful members of society. Thus, the children too pay the price of the mother's lack of education. In other words, imposing maternal roles on a young girl can cause great damage. The child forfeits her childhood and education, and the coming generations pay the price. Hence, the Quran commands us not to burden our children, both boys and girls, beyond their capacities. Girls must be permitted to grow and develop and when the time arrives for motherhood they will meet the challenge more successfully because they will be mature, educated and capable.