Tuesday 3 June 2014

A Challenging Week with Little Lady

This is going to be a difficult week for me and Little Lady. Her year group is away for the week in the Isle of Wight for a weeks residential trip and she is left behind with a small group of children that didn’t get permission from their parents. Instead of school work they will be having trips to attractions into London and going on a picnic.
She has been trying to convince us and after discussions between her dad and I and despite attempts at guilt-tripping from her teachers, we decided not to allow her. It wasn’t a difficult decision for us because we had clear reasons for it, but it is one I have been mulling over a lot.

As teenagers we were offered by our secondary school the opportunity to go for a week to stay in Wales as a year group at the age of about 15. My dad didn’t give me permission but did my younger brother and sisters. He just could not see how it was appropriate. I felt a bit upset at the time, but quickly got over it when I realised a lot of the Asian girls were not going anyway.

Looking back, as a practising Muslim, sending away fifty or so 15 year old's for a week, just doesn’t seem appropriate, especially recalling the amount of time that was spent in teenagers trying to get into the opposite sexes rooms and the gossipy stories of who hooked up with who that the students came back with.

Little Lady isn’t 15, she’s only 11 and thank fully still at a age where she doesn’t like boys very much. 11 still feels like a very young age to send your child away for a week. The trip is supervised by teachers and the girls and boys are in separate rooms, but I still didn’t feel comfortable. I’ve grown through my parenting years assailed with a steady stream of stories about child abuse and molestation and have witnessed the sexualisation of our society and of children in recent years. It absolutely terrifies me and has made me very protective of my children. A physical injury can heal with care, but how do you nurse your child through an injury to the soul? If someone harms a child and takes away their innocence in that way, can you ever take them to a safe place and return their childhood to them?

She is also reaching the age that she is heading for puberty. We have been talking through this a lot: dressing appropriately, self-care, what her responsibilities will be (i.e. prayer) and being mindful around boys. As a Muslim mother, it didn’t seem the right thing for me to send her away for a week with a load of boys (her class is 10 girls to 20 boys and the teacher has admitted to me she is fed up of them).

Part of me feels like I am stifling her. She would have spent the week doing lots of adventurous activities, shared a room with her best friends from her class and made amazing memories. She will spend this week feeling left out and angry and then she will have to listen to her friends stories about the fun they had in the coming weeks.

A work colleague of mine who I respect very much once told me how her son went climbing in the Himalaya’s as a young teen with his uncle and was the youngest in the group to do so, his uncle also took him to Alaska. I would love for my children to have amazing adventures like that, to do things that broaden their horizons and boost their confidence. But I would prefer them to go with people I know and trust and who would guide them away from things that are inappropriate.

I have had to reassure her that she is not missing out because she is a girl. If she can’t go, nor can her brothers. I believe in being very fair in the way I deal with my daughter and sons as this is something my parents were not always careful about.

So this week, I suspect I will be dealing with a lot of complaining, some sadness and a little anger. I will have to be patient, extra loving and let her vent. I think we will have to have special time together (I’ve thought of a painting project and a jewellery making one) and I think we’ll have to make time to go out together, I’ve promised her we’ll try waffles and ice cream with just the two of us and make time for shopping.


  1. Assalamu alaykum,

    When you speak to her about this, do emphasize the fact that you're worried about her safety. It's not because you're 'trying to restrict her' - the worry about molestation is a really valid one.

    Perhaps I can also add my voice as a young practicing Muslimah (teenage) who traveled away from home for a study abroad experience for two years, after a LOT of convincing of my conservative father. This involved living at a mixed boarding school. The travel, the friendships, etc, are lovely and irreplaceable, that is true. But whenever I had to travel in extremely close vicinity to my male classmates - for example on an overnight school trip where we slept in close quarters - I felt uncomfortable. Trips where you're put very closely together in situations where you can't keep your usual friendly distance honestly just feels like an intrusion on your private space as a practicing Muslim or Muslimah. If your daughter had done the trip on her own, I wouldn't be surprised if she had felt the same. Don't prevent her trips - but let her realize that there will be some trips where she will be made uncomfortable, and in Islam we believe that whatever makes you uncomfortable is usually a very good sign that something should be avoided!

    My advice would be to make this week with her special. Whenever events occurred at school that I didn't feel Islamically comfortable with, I made sure to arrange another equally special event for myself. For example, on the formal dance night, I spent the night dressed up with a friend, making a lovely fruit dish and watching a funny appropriate film, and the memories were much nicer than anything that my other friends did.

    1. Salaam Razan,
      thank you so much for your comment and perspective which is useful to me. Thankfully she was okay and wasn't upset or grumpy. We will be having some special time for ourselves and it helped that her friends brought back gifts for her.

  2. Anonymous04 June, 2014

    I have planned that when it occurs, I might join the class, usually parent's can come!/S Susan

    1. Hi Susan,
      We did think of that, hubby wanted to go with her, but she looked mortified at the idea. In the end they didn't invite parents to go along.

  3. you made the right decision, 11 is much too young. You're not stifling her at all. At this age she needs family supervision, and it's clear from your blog that as a family you take many trips to great places, so she's not missing out. Don't waver in your decision, that will make her resent it. Even if she doesn't understand now, she will as an adult, and definitely when she's a parent. My most memorable and enjoyable trip away was in my twenties with a group of female friends to attend a friends wedding, at that age we had the maturity to stay safe and have a great time.

  4. Umm Shareef08 June, 2014

    Assalamu alaykum sis,
    You have made the right decision. The dangers present in such situations cannot be overstated, so you really had no choice. I am sure you will have a lovely, safe time together instead in sha Allah.

    1. Salaam Sis,
      I knew you would understand where I was coming from for sure!

  5. sallams sister
    I love reading your blog and enjoy visiting ,i wish i could leave comments more often.I made the same decision as you for both my son and daughter as i also believe it has to be for both of them not only girls.

    1. Salaam Sister Yasmine,
      I't's good to hear you treated both of your children equally. Thank you for stopping by to read and for commenting.