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Meeting the Challenge of Parenting in the West

Questioner

A (34-male-Canada)

Reply Date

Jan 11, 2017

Question

I have 2 boys (4 years and 2 years). I plan to continue my studies in Canada, but I am worried about my kids to be affected by the environment there. My older kid will join the school in Canada. Canadian schools do not teach religion for students. My question is:How far can the non-Muslim teachers, at school, along with the environment in general, affect the kids?My wife will be staying at home looking after them. However, I am still worried about their religion and their behavior. Do you have an advice to deal with that situation?

Counselor

Answer


Parenting

As-salamu `Alaikum, 

It is quite refreshing to see that Muslims are concerned about the affairs of their children. This is quite important, especially when they move to different environments.

The importance of a proper environment for bringing up children cannot be overemphasized. The prophet (pbuh) has indicated, in his hadith, that the human being is born in a state of pure nature, and that it is his parents who make him Jewish, Christian or otherwise.

Among lessons deducted from this, scholars have pointed out the following two points:

1. The environment has a great impact on the way a child is brought up.

2. Parents represent the first circle of environments faced by a child. The effect of this circle is so great that it can change a child’s pure nature by its influence.

Other environmental circles, which children face, are schools, neighbors and friends (local community). The mainstream society is, in general, represented in all the events and in the array of ideas and information, which are dumped on children via media, especially television. It is a fact that young children are very much influenced by their teachers. They also like to imitate other children at school.

If the teacher is promoting good values, this is not going to represent a problem for your child. In the public school system in Canada, generally teachers treat children fairly, try to take care of each individual child’s needs and help them learn. On the other hand, their own personal conduct may not agree with our Islamic values. A clear example for that is definitely the way they dress.

Also, the overall school environment conveys a lot of non-Islamic ideas to the children associated with Canadian cultural traditions such as Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s day, Easter and others. This, as it shows, almost covers the whole school year and the whole education program, which will be centered on the theme of festivity at the time. Class-mates’ are definitely another effective element; their interests, their celebrations and the ideology they are brought up to believe in.

To be aware of these dangers is a good and positive parenting attitude. It is actually the parent’s responsibility to filter these environmental negative effects from shaping the child’s personality, during those very important years of his or her life.

Our advice is:

Register the child in one of the private Islamic schools. Make sure you give it enough investigation. You can go through the homework, to find out the quality of education and moral behavior in the school. If Islamic schools are not the right answer for you, for any reason, put the child in the public school system. Then, try to filter negative environmental effects from reaching the child.

Here are some essential techniques to apply:

Always maintain a good family environment.

Use the true, proper Islamic methods of training for children upbringing.

Always have good and sound communication with the child

Get actively involved at the child’s school.

Get actively involved with the Muslim community, where the child can have a much better opportunity to meet other Muslim children of his age and feel he is part of a bigger community.

Register the child in a part time Islamic school, where they teach Arabic and Islamic studies.

Work with your child on learning Arabic, Qur’an and Islamic teachings at a level that is satisfactory for you.

It is also worth mentioning that parents should take the above measures, when living in countries, where Muslims are in minority. This is irrespective of whether the child being is in an Islamic school or in a public one. However, an Islamic school may make your job easier, because it is pushing in the same direction. On the other hand, if the child is in a non-Islamic school, you will be pushing your way against the main stream. There are successful examples of both situations.

For more reading on this subject:

Meeting the challenge of parenting in the west, An Islamic perspective. Amana Publications.

Awladona Akbadona. Arabic for the above, published by al-Qadesiah and Dar aL-wafa’ in Egypt. Also by Peace Islamic Knowledge Services of Tulsa Oklahoma.

Muslim Teens, today’s worry tomorrow’s hope, by Amana publications.




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