In this counseling answer:
“When refusing a child’s request, the main mistake many parents make is that they refuse it without offering something in its place. So, the point here is to explain to the children that we do not celebrate Xmas just like many other people and explain why. By this way, they won’t feel isolated. Answer their questions sensitively and with patience, reward them for their curiosity and reinforce their reward from Allah for their adherence.”
As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,
Thank you for writing in with this very important topic. May Allah (SWT) grant you great reward for raising our awareness about this issue, in sha’ Allah.
It is not easy to hold on to the religion in these challenging times. We live in an age where we have been increasingly fighting for our basic rights to live our religion in peace. We are continuously between growing levels of misunderstanding and confusion about what that involves. Sadly, this is irrespective of the country we live in, be it Muslim or otherwise.
The dilemma you face is one many parents experience living in non-Muslim countries. They manage this dilemma either by simply giving in (and attempting to reduce the significance of their actions) or severely chastising the child and, thus, isolating them even more from the religion by presenting it as something rejects any ‘fun.’ Both solutions do not help the child to stand by the faith. Indeed, it often results in them losing their faith completely stemming either from a desire to fit in or as a response to being restricted.
Many faiths and so many people do not celebrate Xmas, and they do so quite comfortably without compromise. The same should apply to you and all Muslims in this situation. When refusing a child’s request, the main mistake many parents make is that they refuse it without offering something in its place. So, the point here is to explain to the children that we do not celebrate Xmas just like many other people and explain why. By this way, they won’t feel isolated. Answer their questions sensitively and with patience, reward them for their curiosity and reinforce their reward from Allah for their adherence.
Additionally, honor them for listening to you and asking their questions. As a result, they will not feel that they are being punished. Moreover, I would suggest that you have this discussion over a pizza or a fun activity, so they do not feel being chastised. Then, instead of leaving them with a gap, inshaAllah offer them something instead. This means in refusing their request for a Christmas celebration, you must offer them something in place of it.
Whilst you may not go out to buy a Xmas tree, why not take them out for dinner? Why not use the holidays from school to treat them and go away for a weekend or have some friends over for activities? By this way, they will not feel excluded from the fun, and yet, they will be able to adhere to the religion on this matter.
Based on my experience, the reason why children become stubborn in such issues is because the refusal is not explained and their acceptance of Islam’s position is not rewarded. Another reason is that they are refused without having something else positive in its place; so naturally, the children will feel that they are losing out all around.
However, I would advise you not to deceive yourself and celebrate Christmas ‘indirectly’. For instance, telling yourself that you wanted a tree anyway or that, though you don’t celebrate Christmas, you give presents to the children the day before it, saying that actually it is not related to the holiday as it was given a day before Christmas Eve. This is unhelpful and illogic! Remember, not all families give their children presents anyway, so do not allow yourself to be manipulated by this way, inshaAllah. This will simply confuse the children and will teach them to deceive themselves and be unclear about how to respond confidently to such issues in the future.
Remind them also that they have two festivals which they celebrate while others don’t. When the two Eid festivals come round, make a fuss and get them involved as much as you can, inshaAllah, as it is allowed in Islam and, indeed, encouraged! Often, children want to celebrate Christmas because their Muslim parents are not opened to make Eid a happy celebration for them, so they do not value it as a fun occasion. This is, of course, an injustice for them and we must preserve our religion in the best way to all people, inshaAllah.
So, use the time to do something they really enjoy and, inshaAllah, they will not notice that they don’t have a tree, etc., because they will feel that they are doing something special anyway. When they have a choice between No Christmas celebration coupled with no fun VERSUS No Christmas celebrations but some alternative fun activity instead, they will more likely chose the latter because it is the fun they are missing not Christmas itself.
And Allah knows best.
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