Advice for Raising Muslim Teens
Do you have a Muslim teen – boy or girl? You probably are looking for any advice on how to raise them in today’s modern world! Well, I can relate.
I have been receiving a lot of emails and DMs about teen parenting. SubhanAllah, as a mother of a teen boy, I am both blessed and challenged every.single.day.
Teen age is hard
I remember a few years ago, my bestie Shazia had said:
Welcome to motherhood! It is like real life gaming… every stage is harder than the last!
At the moment, I am not going to deny it, I have been attending lectures by scholars, looking through the Quran and Sunnah for every reference to teens and I am reading through all my Psychology books to try and learn how to reduce my son’s anxiety!
RECOMMENDED READING: How to talk to your teenager without arguing
Life as a teenager is hard too.
In 2020, we pulled our son out of school to homeschool him during the pandemic. 2020 went great. 2021 was a nightmare in the truest sense! Both the parents and son have cried because the ministry here wouldn’t let him proceed to the next grade.
In spite of giving numerous entrance tests and the 8th grade exam twice, he was denied entrance back to his old school. We had to change curriculums and Alhamdulillah he went back to school but it totally crushed our relationship with him.
The past few months, we have been on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. There has been trust issues, anger and resentment. Part of it is because joining an entirely new curriculum and a new school experience is hard to jump to.
This new school…. is different. And super challenging. Although he is doing great at keeping up, the anger outbursts are with his parents – because we are his safe zone.
But in spite of it all, he is still keeping up with his Hifz journey, with his physical training and his passion for coding. Alhamdulillah.
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Raising Teens Today…
The lesson I learnt these past six months is that when you have a teenager, your role as a parent is to be their listening ear more than their guidance.
You cannot take away their struggles.
You cannot know what they feel. This was the hardest realization for me. I know that we adults feel that we can relate with our children’s struggles. We feel we know what they are going through but no, we don’t.
Dr. John Duffy in his book ‘Parenting The New Teen In The Age of Anxiety‘ says:
“The emotional weight of being a teenager in today’s world bears only a faint resemblance to our experiences as a teenagers a generation ago.”
Yeah, we have been a teen once upon a time too, but THIS is not the generation we grew up in. These times are different. They are experiencing and being subjected to a lot more than we ever grew up with.
The best thing we can do is be their sounding board.
We can ask them open ended questions and give them helpful tips here and there but more than that our job is to just walk with them by their side and help them resolve their issues by themselves.
When our kids are teenagers, what they need is to know that they have someone safe and trustworthy who they can go to.
If everything is changing, what can you keep constant?
At this time, more than ever in my life, I have been thankful for our family routines and the quality time activities that I so religiously did and made a habit of with them.
I can’t tell you how many times it has been that he uses that bedtime (not so much a story time) as the time to vent or talk about “stuff” with me.
He still comes to me when I am doing the dishes to tell me about school because for years that was “his” time with mom. Although it is pretty awkward to have a six foot guy in my kitchen putting the dishes away now. (I pray inshaAllah some day my future daughter-in-law will appreciate me!)
The opposite of Addiction is Connection
In a technology driven world, when we adults are getting addicted to screens and our phones, should our children be blamed if they cannot control or manage their screen time?
This is one of the hardest questions and biggest problems we parents are facing today. “How to control screen time in children?” Do you know what I have learnt…
Screen time is not the problem. The real problem is that we (our children and we ourselves) give so much attention to our screens – we are so BUSY – that we don’t have time for connections.
Connection with those we love. Connecting with ourself. Connecting with our Lord! So, if you want to help your children from their screen addiction focus on connecting with them first. Give them reasons to connect with people. Show them how to.
Dr. Salman Asif Siddiqui, a Pakistani Parenting Educator talks about hobbies and how your children’s interests can actually tell you if they need help.
I may be totally killing it with my paraphrasing (sorry sir!!) but he says, “if you can count seven things your child is interested in… you need not worry.“
I know how hard that is and that is why I keep focussing on our quality time activities. My son Alhamdulillah has a lot of interests of his own but it is the little family traditions like reading to each other, or Quran or Salah time that helps my teen get back to “real world”.
Don’t let your Salah slip… don’t stop praying.
I’ll be honest, I may have not prayed so much for my children when they were babies as much as I pray over them now.
There is power in Dua because then you know that there is someone more powerful than you who controls everything about you.
Alhamdulillah, that God gives me ample opportunities to come back and talk to my child about this but one thing I want to advice you about raising your teen is to not let them miss their prayers.
Remind them to pray. Help them not miss their pray. Approach their struggle from their side. Help them find solutions.
When you have small children under 7 years of age, you have to train them by praying by your side. When you have a child over 7, you have to train them by being by their side. Guess what you have to do when you have a teen? You have to still be by their side until they learn to lead you in prayer.
There should be no shame in calling each other to prayer. SubhanAllah, people do tawaf of the Kaa’ba and the Adhan is called out in Masjid al Haram to remind you to pray! Why must we not call out our children to prayer?
Every child needs a father figure who is strong and protective.
In his book, Raising Positive Children in a Negative World, Zig Ziglar talks about a New York City Judge who after years of working as a Judge of a Juvenile Court wrote a paper based on his findings.
He said, young adults who end up in trouble (both boys and girls) are mostly those who don’t have a strong positive father figure in their life. They come from a home with broken or troubled marriages or those with domestic violence or even those homes where the father was absent or hardly involved in his children’s lives.
Personally I can recall numerous times when as a teen, I may have said to myself, ‘Dad will handle it.’ Or I may have said, ‘You haven’t met my father.‘ Or ‘Goodness, what will dad say..?!‘
Children need someone who will say to them, ‘I’m here if you need me. You go play.‘ That person better be the father because everyone else has their own motives. Think about this too.
You didn’t do a bad job raising your kid.
So, this is for those of you who ask me about raising teenagers – boy or girl. What your children need is for you to be by their side, offering them a listening ear. Your kids are not irresponsible, spoilt brats.
To the mother who said: “I can’t believe she is the same sweet well mannered girl who would listen to me. How did she become this monster who is always spewing hate at me?“
You raised a sweet well mannered girl so hold on to it. She is still that same ‘sweet well mannered’ little girl in a bigger body who doesn’t know how to handle those hormones. One moment she is bored… another moment she is so annoyed and she doesn’t even know why.
“Everything bothers me.” I have heard my son say it too.
Trust yourself, mom. You raised a great kid. You HAVE a great kid. They are just going through some hard stuff. They already have enough self-esteem issues. Don’t confirm them. Remind them that they are good and you love them.
Your child needs you to tell them that their parents love them. That is the light at the end of the tunnel that they see and keep coming back to each time.
I will leave you now with one resource that is helping me keep my child true to his responsibilities.
Everyday Responsibilities and Checklists for Teens
Want to teach your teen about responsibilities? Click and download this!
Thanks, Ayesha. This is so hard for me. I think I was a ‘better mom’ when my kids were younger. But now I am not. I myself need assisstance in raising teenagers. And I have two!
I think my experience now will be a guidance to raise my next teenager insha Allah.
I relate to you so much Diah. May Allah helps us in raising our children as they need to be raised.