What are the advantages of communicating with our children?
- We understand their lives better and what they face on a daily basis at school.
- We can give them confidence that they can approach us with any issue/problem.
- We can break cultural taboos and stereotypes.
Moving further on the topic of tarbiyyah, insha’Allah, of the many advantages of keeping open communication with patience, wisdom and understanding, preteens/teens feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with their parents, especially their mothers.
I, personally, do not believe in offering preteens/teens “privacy.” By all means, give them their “space,” but it is not synonymous to privacy. You should have access to their room, closets, computers and all their other stuff. It should be matter-of-fact and peaceful, not antagonistic. Don’t be intruding when they are with the friends, but KNOW who their friends are.
Preteens/teens should be at such a comfort level around us that they should not mind sharing their feelings/emotions and secrets with us, even if it is about their crushes. This is the kind of relationship we should aim for.
Do not react to every single crush. Hold yourself back, take a deep breath and know that it is actually unnatural not to have crushes. With that in mind, make sure you thoroughly teach them that they should:
- Not trust every other friend with their crush.
- Be shy and modest about it.
- Never openly confess it or try to inform the one they have a crush on (it becomes common knowledge at school)
- realize the fragility of a Muslim woman’s reputation.
Give them sufficient warning against falling in love with the wrong person. If you have any examples in the family or amongst friends, tell them about it and let them learn from others’ mistakes.
Though that age of romantic thoughts and emotions is inevitable, make sure they do not become obsessed with their crushes. If it starts happening, seek help. Observe what they are watching and reading, especially with their friends. Try to minimize the means and do not let the crush go to the next step.
Special Advice for Parents of Girls:
Females have a special chemical called “oxytocin,” also called the “love hormone,” and it plays a major role in what’s called, “the biochemistry of attachment.” That’s why a little attention from a good-looking, popular boy or just a boy can make them feel special and they can develop feelings for someone whose last intention is to bond with them. Learn more about this.
There is a phenomenon rising of Muslim girls falling for non-Muslim boys (an obvious side effect of Disney movies). It is not only about haram and halal; it is also about falling in love and uncontrollable emotions. Unfortunately, I cannot prolong the discussion by offering solutions, this is a topic for another discussion, but I just want parents to acknowledge and be aware of what is happening. It is not limited to public schools (though it is more common there for of obvious reasons), but even homeschooled Muslim girls can fall in love online with non-Muslim boys because that might be their only “outlet” to get in touch with the opposite gender.
It is very easy to fool girls, especially the shy and naïve girls. For some boys, these types of girls become a “challenge to overcome” at schools, so load your daughters with sufficient warnings but do not set “double standards” for your daughters vs. your sons, please!
Let them Evaluate your Parenting:
There may be things you will do as parents thinking that they are helping to build a relationship, but they might be having a negative effect. Discuss your parenting techniques with your children. Tell them why you are taking a certain approach. Find different approaches. Put your child on spot; ask them: “what would you do if your child were to do this?”
KNOW HOW TO USE YOUR AUTHORITY:
Parents have been given authority over children but to use that authority wisely is a complicated issue. Allah ‘azza wa jall hates shirk but He allows it to happen; if He willed, it would have ended but He didn’t and there is a lesson to learn from this wisdom (though we cannot fully understand the complete and perfect wisdom behind it).
Sometimes as parents we CAN put an end to something wrong, but we must choose our battles wisely. Sometimes letting go of smaller issues helps you take control of bigger issues.
For example, a sister who had recently started practicing was once seeking advice about her daughter. I noticed the sister was using too much religion and parental control over a daughter who was in her 20s. When I talked to the daughter she had similar complaints. Of the complaints the daughter had was that her mother would not allow her to go to movies on the weekend with her friends. I advised the sister to be wise in her restrictions. By no means am I promoting theaters, but look at the time we are living in, surrounded with multiple fitan, such as the fitnah of the opposite gender, Muslim women having internet affairs, men’s pornography addiction, and the increase in gays and lesbians. A’udhobillah, but we certainly do live in strange times. Compare that to watching movies with same-gender-friends, and you can see the difference in the level of harm. The sister didn’t take my advice very well. To make a long story short, her daughter ended up moving out of the house.
Stay a Step Ahead of your Child:
Parents always have to be ahead of their children, to be smart and wise. Get technical, become familiar with computers, Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, etc. Stay updated and upgraded!
Self Evaluation when Children behave badly:
When our children behave badly, it is a test from Allah, as it is a time to evaluate our actions and our relationship with Allah ‘azza wa jall.
- Du’a: use this weapon.
- Make yourself a role model for them: Good upbringing requires setting examples for our children. Whether we like it or not, parents remain the primary role models for their children.
Lastly, love is a beautiful emotion; let us not limit it to food, clothes, secular degrees, worldly status, and brand names. Give love its proper rights. None of us would like to see our children troubled, especially not on the Day of Judgment.
I have written this series as if I was talking to my own children, and I have shared the steps that helped me build a wonderful relationship with my children, alhamdullilah. There are some topics I left out and some I didn’t discuss in detail; I skipped the biological explanations. I am writing a book in which I discuss all these issues in more detail.
To conclude, I have only Allah to thank that I was able to compile this series whichinsha’Allah will be beneficial to the readers. Special thanks to my wonderful husband, who supported me throughout, regardless of the content that we discussed. Many thanks to Mona White for editing my articles and to Hebah, Haleh, Hena and Anonymouse for helping me word many difficult parts. Last but not least, special thanks to all my amazing MM-Sisters who showed tremendous support when on several occasions I found myself on the verge of quitting due to some blatant insulting comments.
Whatever good is in here is from the blessing of Allah, and all the evil and wrong is from myself and shaytaan.