As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
First of all, sister, I ask Allah the Almighty to grant you with patience in your efforts to provide your children with the best educational experience possible. I ask Allah to grant you confidence in your efforts to please Him by raising your children as model citizens. Finally, I ask Allah to grant you reward for the striving and struggling you endure as you raise your children.
Children are indeed a blessing from Allah, and like any other blessing that is bestowed upon us, we, as Muslims, should always show our gratitude for these gifts by pondering why it is that our Creator has granted them to us. Just as we are to ponder the gifts of our health, vision, hearing, mental abilities, and strength, we should realize that our offspring are a trust from Allah the Almighty, a trust that we should recognize not only as a priceless gift from Him, but also as a tremendous responsibility. Having realized our responsibilities, however, we must also put our trust in Allah, and learn to practice tawakkul, or complete and utter dependence upon Allah. In other words, once we purify our intentions and do our best in our efforts, we must learn to trust Allah to take care of the rest.
It seems to me from what you have written that you are a very devoted and concerned mother, and your children are certainly blessed to have a mother like you. I do know, as a mother who has experienced being a home-school parent and one whose children have attended public school, that a parent is always concerned for the emotional, social, and physical well-being of his or her children. I must say that your concerns are not uncommon.
As mothers, we seem to feel responsible for everything that happens to our children, whether it is a cold, a scrape on the knee, or unhappy emotions. If you are being bombarded with the opinions of others who view home schooling as isolation, or as some strange way to be raising children, it may be that the same sensitive nerve is being touched. This, however, is the time when we as parents need to remember tawakkul and trust the Creator.
It seems to me that you are doing everything right. You have a 5-year-old daughter who “has no problems getting on with anyone, whether it’s a young toddler, children her own age, or older adults…” despite the fact that you and your husband are shy! If you are located in the States, there are many opportunities for home schooling families to interact with other families, therefore allowing children to mix with other children.
Home schooled children have the opportunity to attend literature circles, art classes, writing workshops, home-school family field trips, and many other activities.
In addition, many parents start learning cooperatively in fields that they may not have special knowledge in, such as science labs, art projects, history displays—the options are endless.
While attending functions is a great way to allow your daughter to develop social skills, having a playmate or two that she can play with on a regular basis is important in developing relationship skills. Do you allow her to interact with non-Muslim children?
Oh ye who believe! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. The most noble of you in the sight of Allah are the most pious. Verily, Allah is All Knowing, Ever Aware. (Al-Ahqaf 46:13)
Though you are home schooling children in order to instill in them Islamic values, it is still necessary to teach them to function in the world in which they live. That is the reality of it. It is not prohibited to allow your children to play with children of differing religious beliefs, and in fact, it will provide them with valuable social skills. Having said this, we, of course, must make sure that we do not overstep the boundaries of Islam, so we must teach our children how to interact with the opposite sex Islamically, and teach them about the dangers of mingling with the opposite sex as they mature.
My children have non-Muslim friends as well as many Muslim friends. I have found that my children have the confidence to express their Islam to their non-Muslim friends, answering any questions that they may have, and explaining to them when and why they need to make a prayer.
On the other hand, we must not take others over our Muslim brothers and sisters. Having Muslim friends is also important because as your daughter grows, she will have issues to face that only another Muslim girl will understand. It would be great to have someone who shares the same concerns as she does. It would give her an added outlet (in addition to her immediate family) in which to express her emotions.
Many Islamic communities hold weekly meetings for children and teens, in which issues are discussed that affect them as they are growing up in the West. If there is no such meeting where you live, perhaps you could initiate one by making a few phone calls, and by posting a sign at the Islamic center.
Finally, in connection with your daughter’s declared loneliness, I would have to ask if it is partially due to the new blessed addition to the family? Children naturally tend to feel a little “left out” when a new sibling comes along, but this feeling tends to abate as they learn to love the baby and when the baby becomes more playful and less fragile. Devoting time with the older child—reading, or coloring, or any other special activity—while the baby is sleeping can help your child feel that she is still special, and that you still have time for her.
In closing, I ask Allah to grant you patience, knowledge, and steadfastness on your parental journey, and to reward you with righteous offspring.
The contribution was answered by our counselor Melonie Saleh