In this counseling answer:
“Your son needs to feel needed, included, important, and male. He needs to feel that he has an influence and is part of the process. Again, much of this can be accomplished during family meetings. This is a time to connect to ALLAH as a family, distribute responsibility and chores, and decide who is “in charge” of what.”
Wa ‘alaikum as-salam Dear Sister,
Thank you for sending this very important question. May Allah give you all the support and strength you need in raising your children and may Allah reward you for all your efforts.
This is a common scenario when there is a boy with no father in the home. Is it possible to get him involved in sports? This can make a real difference.
The little man is looking for an identity. He needs a man to identify with. He is lost without this. He needs to have a mail mentor to look up to and identify with. I realize how very difficult it is to find such a person. You might be able to get him into little league or karate and tell the coach your situation.
Ideally we would want to find an Islamic male mentor, but honestly, in the USA, they just are not around unless you get very lucky. However, it would not hurt to talk with your Imam and see if he knows anyone who would be willing to take your son under his wing.
It is very likely that your son is depressed. Depression in children does not manifest as it does in adults. The laziness is one clue. A child his age should be out playing with friends and with his male mentor. The demanding is likely due to his not knowing how he fits into the family.
Offer him an important role. Perhaps he can even “consult” during family meetings on certain issues that are his “area of expertise”. Do have family meetings also, this is where you can define roles for all family members and make sure that each family member has an important role and function in the household and family system.
Your son needs to feel needed, included, important, and male. He needs to feel that he has an influence and is part of the process. Again, much of this can be accomplished during family meetings. This is a time to connect to ALLAH as a family, distribute responsibility and chores, and decide who is “in charge” of what.
Eight-year-olds can be in charge of many things, such as trash can checks, keeping the event calendar updated, keeping the home dusted, checking off the grocery list to see what is already in the cupboards and refrigerator, etc. Be creative, don’t expect perfection, and offer a lot of praise.
Get him into a social group with other boys, and again, make sure that you find a male role model for him now. The consequences can be serious down the road if you don’t get this male role model.
At around age eleven, a boy will fiercely want to disengage from “mother” and will set to become a “real” man…and he will likely latch onto any older male or male adult, whether a good man or a bad man, and it will be difficult for you to supervise him as a single mother at this age. If he latches on to a bad man, you will have a very difficult time. I don’t mean to frighten you, but I do encourage you to work diligently on finding a male role model for him now.
With that said, there is a lot of hope because you are consciously choosing to deal with the situation now. Getting him into a club, boy scouts, karate, little league, etc will truly be a good beginning. And having weekly family meetings will set the stage for family success.
I pray my suggestions are helpful. Please write in again with any questions.
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