Sunday 30 December 2018

Things that are Super Hard About Being a Muslim Parent

I have had some hard and very heartfelt conversations with my husband in recent times, about trying to do the right thing, trying to raise your children in what seems to be the right way and still seeming to get it wrong.

Like the following:

We have never had a TV, for reasons explained here. We have tried to replace it with quality time, games and books, days out and crafts.  Now the kids are complaining that they need one and friends and neighbours are telling us we should get one.

We tried to teach our kids about the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), Sahabah (RA) and good role models.  Now they are interested in Youtube and Instagram culture. I cannot even begin to explain how pernicious, disrespectful, unIslamic and toxic some elements of this culture are and they are just under the radar of most parents (another post coming on this!)

We tried to limit tech and avoided giving our children mobile phones because we felt it would impact their concentration and affect their studies, they are adamant they are the only kids in the world that don’t have them.

We tried to make sure we earned only halal and fed them only halal so that they would be good people and do good deeds insh’Allah.  This means that our income provides them with everything they need but does not extend to luxuries.  All they see is that their classmate get to go on expensive holidays and have expensive devices – I have no idea how when half of them are on benefits.

I have had nothing but censure and nasty comments from my own community for being a Muslim working mother.  Between hubby and I we get by and try to help others where we can.  But it has been about 10 years since I flew abroad, even to see family in Pakistan (it would cost us about £6-7,000 just for tickets to Pakistan in the school holidays).  The same people who think it is fitnah for a woman to work, go abroad every year because they get benefits and free or subsidised housing from the government, even when some of them don’t seem to be entitled because they are working.  They don’t see anything wrong with any of this, but what I do is still wrong.

The painful thing is, that their children are well-behaved and becoming hafiz of the Quran or scholars.  It does not make sense to me at all and makes me questions everything we have done.

Hubby goes in the path of Allah (SWT) for three days every month and forty days every year alhamdulillah.  He teaches, leads study circles, encourages people to come to the masjid and calls to Islam.  In the beginning it was hard to be apart from one another but we were fully committed to the importance of dawah in our lives. When Hubby started his dawah work, I knew the children missed him and the boys especially played up when he was not there. We also had the promise that those that take care of Allah’s religion, Allah (SWT) will take care of their affairs, including their children’s tarbiyyah.

Now we get to see the kids doing anything to avoid going masjid or Islamic talks and questioning whether hijab is right for them.  It makes me questions everything we have done.

After much soul-searching and anxious introspection, there are some things I feel I have to trust and hold on to:

Much of the behaviors we are seeing with our teens now are just normal behaviors - they are growing, challenging, testing boundaries and trying to work things out. Plus those hormones are all over the place.

It’s not meant to be easy, enjoyable or perfect, our children are not for us to show of what good parents we are, but a test from Allah (SWT) that we have to undergo with patience:

"Your wealth and your children are only a trial (fitnah). And Allah - With Him is a great reward (Paradise)." (Quran 64:15)

"And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial (fitnah) and that surely with Allah is a mighty reward." (Quran 8:28)

When we see others getting it perfectly right, we have to remember that we don’t see the whole picture, only what they choose to let us see. How many Muslim families have to deal with dark things behind closed doors?

I also think we have to trust in what we have worked for.  As teenagers the children will challenge and question everything we have taught them.  As adults, I hope and trust that they will come back to it and embrace it and see why we did things the way we did.

Finally, we have to trust in Allah SWT), He can see the big picture when we can’t.  He knows where our path is leading when we don’t.  Perhaps what you sow isn’t realised immediately, but slowly and over time.  We just trust that He loves us and as always will be true to His promise.

Reading back over this, I hope I am not making my children sound like monsters.  I can see what they are growing and have their own opinions and take on life.  We are going to have to accept that and accept choices we might not agree with.  I can see also that sometimes our disagreements are painful for them and they express their pain as anger which is hurtful to us.  Clearly my role as their mother doesn’t diminish at this time, but rather I must grow with them and support them to be good people and good Muslims insh’Allah.

An elderly and experienced scholar staying at the masjid recently spoke at length about the children of religious families and how many were finding their children move away from or leave Islam.  All they had heard about growing up was punishment and guilt tripping for bad deeds and were tired of it.  He mentioned the importance of two things: positive language and examples in Islam and also making sure that the family spend a little time together for daily taleem (Islamic study) every day as this stops fitnah (evil or negative influence) coming into the home from all its various souces.

At the moment we are doing this in the shape of one hadith with some commentary and one sunnah that we can implement in our lives.  We take five to ten minutes and insh’Allah some of it will stick.

What challenges have you had with raising children in your faith and how have you overcome them?

1 comment:

  1. However your children turn out sister. (And inshallah they will be the amongst the most beloved to Allah), it seems from your writing that you are certainly putting in the best effort and thought and duas in your parenting. The same cannot be said of myself and many others.
    It is worrying to think of what the future holds for us with younger children. Behind closed doors all are facing challenges in different forms. Your children are very lucky to have you as a mother.
    Please make dua for all children that allah guides them.