In this counseling answer:
“If parents have built a strong, trusting, and loving relationship with their children before the teenage years, their children will be less likely to go astray. And by building trusting parent-teen relationships, parents can help teens reduce the conflict and the stress they experience during these formative years.”
Wa `alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
Teenage years are usually difficult, and parents need to prepare for these turbulent years before they are reached by their beloved children. To deal with the teenager in a good and healthy way, the best thing to do is to understand the teenager’s world in all its aspects—the world of conflicting values and tremendous peer pressure.
If parents have built a strong, trusting, and loving relationship with their children before the teenage years, their children will be less likely to go astray. And by building trusting parent-teen relationships, parents can help teens reduce the conflict and the stress they experience during these formative years.
Many teens feel their parents do not understand what they are going through. It is necessary to emphasis the need to understand teens and the changes they are undergoing during this stage of their life.
Don’t just be your teen’s parents, be a friend. You and his father should be approachable and friendly to your teenager. Participate actively in his life and support his strong and confident personality. Don’t treat him like a child, but like an adult. It means involving your son in useful activities around the home, seeking his opinions on matters of importance.
Know when to listen and learn active listening. This means not only hearing but understanding. By understanding, you and his father will get the full picture of his worries and concerns as well as aspirations and ambitions and will then know which action to take. Talk effectively and avoid using should, don’t and all other negative words. Also, by listening to our teenagers, there is a greater chance that they will confide in us and ask us questions, rather than seek answers from unreliable sources.
Independence is a real challenge. Create a relaxing atmosphere between you and your son, listen a lot, give him space to say what he wants and to justify his reasons. The final word should be yours. The more you respect him the more he respects you, even if you have to agree to something you do not like sometimes because he has very good reasons for it. The worst thing is to criticize the way he thinks or the way he lives, as this will only inflame the situation and further widen the gap between parents and the rebellious child.
It’s better to help your son make decisions. If he feels that he has the right to make some of his own decisions and even to help on a wider family level, he will not feel that he has to rebel against an oppressive family that is always telling him what to do.
I know that it is very difficult to see your son sometimes going in the wrong direction and not know how to stop him from destroying himself, his family, and his life. But if you work hard to instill in him the right values and Islamic manners early and try to help him develop a wholesome lifestyle without being overbearing, perhaps you can prevent him from going astray. So start letting your son become a part of the family decision-making process.
Teenagers like to take the heroes as their role model. Parents should be a good example in their behavior because children like to imitate their parents in their sayings and their deeds. Beside that, parents should teach them about Allah, the Prophets, the Companions, and the great heroes of Islam. A teenager wants to be like his heroes. If he admires Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all), he will try to follow their example. If he admires rock stars or gang leaders, he will want to be like them.
Teenagers often care more about what their friends say than what their parents say. That being the case, advise your son to choose good friends and to avoid bad ones. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) warned us by saying, “Man is inclined to get influenced by his friend’s manners, so one must be careful in choosing friends” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi). Also the Prophet said, “Man is upon the path of his intimate friend; so let each look to whom he takes as a friend.”
Try to encourage this by regularly taking him to the mosque or by sending him to an Islamic school where he will have the opportunity to meet Muslim children. Find or make an Islamic environment so he can make new Muslim friends. If he becomes friendly with non-Muslims, do not worry as long as it’s not a negative influence. Perhaps your teenager influences them toward Islam.
If teenagers’ lives are full of good and exciting things to do, they will not have the time or the desire to get involved in bad things.
Encourage reading. Read together. Listen to tapes. Let your child choose reading material that is interesting to him.
Check with the Islamic center what activities they have, and discuss with your son what kind of activity he would like to get involved in. Or if the Islamic center is not the most comfortable place for him, look for places where he prefers to go. It may be a sport center, club, or whatever.
Let your son attend interesting courses to learn about all aspects of Islam. Also habituate him to reciting the Qur’an.
Enjoy the time with your son reflecting on Allah’s creation and the magnificent environment. This reflection will help all of you to increase your faith and strengthen your relation with Allah.
Read books on positive parenting which are a guide for Muslim parents raising children in the West. Here are some suggested titles:
Living With Teenagers: A Guide for Muslim Parents
- by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
Muslim Teens: Today’s Worry, Tomorrow’s Hope
- by Dr. Ekram Mohamed R. Beshir
This practical Islamic parenting guide provides excellent advice for raising children during the critical, identity-confirming teenage years.
Finally, make du`aa’ and do your job as a parent. Make du`aa’ for your son in front of him. This reminds him how much you love him and are concerned about him.