Deep breaths everyone….
Okay now let’s talk about our youth and their eagerness to ‘date’.
I’ll give parents a minute to put down this article and whisper a prayer….
“Please God let it be a discussion about ‘dates’ as in the fruits of Palm Trees. Please God! You are the Most Merciful’…”
I know this is hard for you guys. I’m a mom, so naturally it’s hard for me too. Us parents want to stay in denial about our kids’ desires and their eagerness to start a romantic relationship because umm hello we raised them right! How can they even think of such inappropriateness before they reach the age of marriage? This is just ridiculous! When we were teenagers we focused on our studies and prayers and never allowed ourselves to fantasize about falling in love and stuff.
(Long pause… Uhmmm)
I can imagine some Muslim parents’ reaction when their teenagers ask why they can’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend:
“A WHAT???? ASTAGHFAR ALLAH!” Parent drops dishes, locks the doors, and shines an interrogative spotlight in the child’s face.
“Put your hands where I can see them! Now tell me, where did you hear that term? Who do you hang out with?! What a shame you turned out to be! Go to your room, you’re grounded for TWO MONTHS!”
Expect The Unexpected
In a world where Miley Cyrus dances wearing close to nothing on national TV (Eww gross!) and PG movies show couples kissing and teenagers getting pregnant, it’s safe to assume we can expect the unexpected. Muslim parents probably seem uptight and old-fashioned to a generation constantly and relentlessly exposed to the media’s shamelessness. Without gradually instilling our Islamic principles in our children at a very young age, unacceptable ‘social’ values will be all they know. Yes, we teach them to pray, fast, tell the truth and the whole long list, but are we tackling the ‘hormonal’ and ‘sexual ‘aspects of adolescence? Or are we shunning the ‘taboo’ subjects all together?
The interest in the opposite sex will arise sooner or later, and if we don’t talk to our kids about it, guess who they’ll talk to? Their FRIENDS! Their non-Muslim, very-experienced-in-this-arena friends! Or perhaps they’ll get their information from the Internet and books like “Fifty Shades Of Grey!” (Now someone please mute the demons in my head so I can finish writing this piece!)
The Big Talk
God knows talking about this is our worst nightmare! We want to preserve our children’s innocence for as long as we can, and that’s exactly why many of us choose not to discuss pre-marital relationships with our kids and hope we’ll never have to. The classic answers usually hover around “We are Muslims. We don’t date”. But are the kids convinced? It’s our job as parents to explain that having romantic feelings is very normal, but acting upon those feelings is definitely not okay until one is married. (I’m sure some dads are thinking: No not even then! LOL). Being alone and/or intimate with a boy or girl is against our modest Islamic beliefs, and it’s supported by all kinds of modern studies too. Problems with attachment, low self-esteem, peer pressure, neediness, ruined reputations, broken hearts and revenge schemes…. They all arise when boys and girls interact outside the ‘permissible line’.
Yet our kids should feel they’re allowed to voice out their thoughts without being judged, criticized or threatened into oblivion, because that’s when they’ll be willing to listen and apply. And if they’re uncomfortable to ask questions, perhaps it’s time we initiate those intense and awkward conversations to get the ball rolling….
Use The Secret Ingredient: Communication
The ‘pursed lips’ and ‘changing the subject’ tactics won’t cut it anymore. (It never did actually!) Our beloved Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) communicated openly and lovingly about every possible issue we could think of. Talk to your children while they’re young and they’ll get used to listening as they get older. Use every chance you get to squeeze in those small talks about friends, school, principles and religion. A scene in a movie, a title in a magazine, the gossip you heard about last week’s party. Ask them what they think are the reasons behind teenagers engaging in inappropriate behavior and if that’s really the way one becomes ‘popular’. Subtly lay the groundwork for good manners and God’s love in their minds before they hit puberty. Let’s get them at a young age while they’re still pure and teach them in a way they can understand.
Keep Your Eyes Wide Open
Some kids will argue you should trust them. My advice? Don’t fall for that! We are not angels. Those little innocent non-haram interactions of late night texting and ‘Facebook-ing’ can pave the wrong path, especially at the ages from 7 to 14 years old. So do we watch them like hawks as much as we can? Like hell we should!
Get acquainted with the friends they hang out with, censor the TV shows they watch, the books they read, check their ‘Whatsapp’ chats every now and then and limit their unsupervised outings and internet access. They’ll think you’re strict and harsh, and you’ll start wishing there was a ‘parenting agency’ that can implement such rules instead of having your kids resent you. That’s when you need to remind yourself of the kinds of trouble your friends were up to at that age. Now times that by 700 for this generation and what do you get? A waking monstrous NIGHTMARE!
And Then We Will Pray On It
Allah gave us stories in the Qur’an about Prophet Noah’s prodigal son and Prophet Abraham’s skeptic dad. If we ponder a little bit, we’ll come to realize that even if we do everything right, our kids can still go astray, and even if we do everything wrong, our kids can turn out to be amongst the most pious. It’s humbling to remember that it’s not our genius parenting that gets the job done perfectly, rather it’s Allah’s will. Period.
Hey, where are you going? That doesn’t mean we go play golf instead and give up on trying all together. All I’m saying is, doing our best is not enough. The essence of success is in putting great effort while asking God for His blessings and guidance.
And now before I go… a final moment of vulnerable honesty….
As much as I love being a mom, it’s becoming such an excruciatingly tough job in this brazenly crazed world. I’m worried and scared for my kids ALL THE TIME! My heart sinks when they go to school or when they meet people who don’t share their values, and I wonder if they’ll be easily confused. I’m constantly scared of failing as a parent, and I don’t know how to protect the youth from what they’ll eventually face. I only have faith that giving them love, and caring for their feelings will prevent them from seeking it elsewhere till they’re ready to move on. So tell your daughters how pretty, smart and valuable they are. Tell your boys how much you admire and respect them. Fill that void for the attention they yearn for and give them what they need from you the most…
Oh our Dearest Lord, we are desperate for Your blessings….Help us raise a generation that will make You proud…. Guide us when we’re too strict or too lenient… and please take care of our kids… for they’re the precious pieces of our hearts….
Lilly S. Mohsen
Find me on Twitter @LillyMohsen