How do I address this issue without being offensive to his parents? Thank you for your guidance and help.
In this counseling answer:
“You and your husband need to have a long talk about this situation. Listen to your husband and try to understand what his thoughts are regarding his parents not being Muslims and what impact, if any, that will have on your child. Let your husband know how much you appreciate his parents and how you do want your child to know, in sha’ Allah, his grandparents and to love them and to respect them. Reassure your husband that you want your child to spend time alone with his grandparents and ask him if he feels any concern with that arrangement.”
Thank you very much for writing to us. You are to be commended for your sincere concern regarding your child and your in-laws. Here are a few thoughts that might help you.
First, you must involve your husband in dealing with this situation for two reasons:
1. Your in-laws should never have the impression that you are disrespecting them or that this is a concern for you alone.
2. Your husband should never feel that you dislike his parents or that you are trying to create problems for no reason.
Rather, you and your husband need to have a long talk about this situation. Listen to your husband and try to understand what his thoughts are regarding his parents not being Muslims and what impact, if any, that will have on your child. Let your husband know how much you appreciate his parents and how you do want your child to know, in sha’ Allah, his grandparents and to love them and to respect them. Reassure your husband that you want your child to spend time alone with his grandparents and ask him if he feels any concern with that arrangement.
It is possible that your husband has no idea what your concerns are. In that case, you will have to be careful in bringing up your concerns with him. It is also possible that he is just as anxious as you are about leaving your child with his parents. In either case, you will have to talk about this to find out what your husband is thinking.
Second, be very clear about what specific concerns you have about leaving your child alone with his grandparents. Help your husband understand that while your child is still very, very young, you want to be sure to share some guidelines with your in-laws so that you all can function together as a team in raising your child. Make sure your husband understands that you are concerned with the fact that your child might be confused about what is expected of him as a Muslim if he hears contradictory messages from his grandparents.
Remember, be specific. For example, consider activities of daily living such as eating, dressing, playing, and so on, there is so much latitude within Islamic guidelines for each of those activities. As long as your in-laws are aware that pork and alcohol are forbidden for consumption to Muslims, there should be no problem. Going one step further, if they understand that all other meat Muslims consume needs to be slaughtered according to certain guidelines, again, there should be no problem.
The idea is to convey these guidelines to them in a manner that does not embarrass them or imply that their way of life is being questioned. You and your husband are conveying the idea that this is just how Muslims are supposed to live. With regards to dressing, we suggest not to be too concerned, at least until your child approaches the age of puberty. But it never hurts to convey the guidelines that you and your husband are required to observe according to Islam. This will be a preview for your in-laws for what your child can and cannot wear in the future, in sha’ Allah. Again, do not over emphasize this point at this time.
As for playing, sometimes, television and video games enter into the discussion. Again, the emphasis should be on upholding decency without necessarily chastising your in-laws for choices they make in what they watch or what video games they find appropriate.
Finally, we are glad that you are getting a head start on how to deal with this situation; it is going to be a lifelong project, and you should remember never to be alone in handling it, but rather rely on your husband for support and understanding. If you two are clear and in agreement on how you wish to raise your children, then, in sha’ Allah, you will be able to convey your ideas much more effectively to your in-laws, and to anyone else for that matter. Work on this, be patient, and make lots of du`aa’ (supplication).
Remember, every explanation you and your husband make is a form of da`wah (inviting people to Islam) to your in-laws. Be effective in your da`wah,exercise wisdom and beautiful preaching. Be merciful and have hope in Allah to assist you through this lifelong project, in sha’ Allah.
And Allah knows best.
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