Parenting is the hardest job in the world. “Children do not come with instructions”, clearly an understatement, but Alhamdulillah that Islam indeed gives direction to parents that take heed. As a mother I have experienced a series of stages in parenting I hadn’t even known existed. One assumes, you have a healthy pregnancy, a safe delivery and as long as you keep the child dry, feed, happy and warm you can expect an easy eighteen years from this adorable bundle of joy. Subhan Allah, children are indeed a mercy from Allah sub han wa ta’alaa however we must not forget that they are also test….and with Allah lies our highest reward.
“And know that your properties and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a great reward.” [Quran Al Anfal 8:28]
There is much to read about when it comes to the early stages of parenting, but it seems that once the child hits the stage of adolescent, all is almost silent (especially in Muslim families). I don’t know if many are like me and just too busy putting out “teenage – fires” to sit and share a few tips and lessons but I have forced myself to do just that now.
I have yet much to learn and am still knee deep in parenting, but in shaa Allah I can be a reminder to myself first and to another sister that we are not alone in this trial. In sha Allah I’m going to be focusing primarily on teenagers (about fifteen to eighteen years old) and please comment back with your tips/reminders if you are also parenting or have gone through the stage of “Teenagers”. Here are a few reminders I have found to be helpful:
1. Be present & Be aware
A good thing about having children young is one “knows” the culture and what and who their child will be exposed to as far as the modern society. A bad thing is that having a child too young can create a relationship with a child that is almost like an older sibling, making it hard for the child to know when or even if, to respect the parent when something of importance is said.
Unfortunately we are experiencing the later here in the U.S. There are so many young parents not wanting to grow up and be mature, that we have children raising themselves. It’s even hard to tell the difference between an adult and a teenager now-a-days. We have an entire generation being raised as orphans with live parents and no one investing into the minds and hearts of our youth that they now are looking to outside sources for direction, yes even Muslim youth.
No matter what age or stage in life one is in as a parent, be aware, even if just in general as to what is going on in the “techy world” and speak to your child about it. Get involved. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or recruit counsel from other youths. These kids are not just playing games on their smart phones, and everyone is not just “a friend” to our children. Be aware, set boundaries and rules. Do not make it convenient for your child to be corrupt. May Allah subhan wat ‘atalaa protect our children amen. Above all else, never, EVER hesitate to completely disconnect a teenager from any device, especially if you feel it can be detrimental or dangerous for them.
2. Know When & How to Give Space
Establishing ourselves as “parent” as early as possible is important because in this stage boundaries will be tested leaving little, to no room for a reintroduction as to who you are (your position as an authority). I am speaking again of teens about fifteen to eighteen year olds, the age when they are introduced to independence in stages in sha Allah.
It is never OK for a teen (or anyone) to slam doors, be abusive verbally or otherwise or to have an attitude of entitlement but it is compassion if we allow for them some space with boundaries and limits of course to have for themselves. Allowing for them to blow off steam for a little while is good, but don’t sweep things under the rug. After a few hours, check in on your child and let them know that if they do not want to talk it is ok, but that you are available if ever they need to.
Being a source of guidance, and mercy to our children is key without enabling or handing them over power and authority. Do not judge or make comparisons to the experiences we might have faced in our youth. Above all, do not check out, do not underestimate what they may be going through. Sometimes teenagers want to distant themselves but continue to wake them up for Fajr, ask them how their days has been after school even if the day before was a hard one for you both. Patience and consistency is key. It is easy to believe that our children no longer need us now that they can feed, dress even drive themselves but they do just in different ways.
3. Focus on the Other Children & Family Members
I have five children: 1 girl who is 12 and 4 boys who are 18, 15, 8, and 3, Masha Allah, and I know how easy it can be overwhelmed on a “squeaky wheel” but do not forget about other children in the family or spouses. Making sure to be on top of our Deen individually, as well as a family, is the only way we have a chance at achieving peace and success in our homes. As bad as certain situations may seem making sure to snap back and plug into the rest of the family is important and a reminder that no matter what our children put us through, it could always be worse. We should still say Alhamdulillah.
Remember that your spouse is your partner and also a participant in this test, work together. Investing into marriage with time carved for just the two of you will also keep one rejuvenated and recommitted as partners in this trial of parenting. Be careful that we do not gossip or backbite about our own children (May Allah subhan wat ‘atalaa grant us forgiveness).
I pray that Allah grant ease and success to all that are trying to raise their children according to the sunnah and that he gives us patience while raising Muslim teenagers ameen.
About the Author
Naomi is a Puerto Rican native of Chicago who now resides in Southern California with her husband, four sons and daughter, masha allah. She shares tips on healthy living, advice as a revert, a perspective of identity in the West and lessons from parenting on her blog Naomi Seif and on herYouTube Channel.