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Long Distance Parenting

27 September, 2021
Q As-salamu `alaykum,I have a nine-month-old daughter and she has been living at my mother-in-law’s home with my wife back home. I stay in Dubai due to my job. We got married 18 months ago and my wife returned to university after staying with me for a year (which was planned), after delivering our baby. Although the baby was not planned during this time, Allah Most High blessed us with this little angel.

I return home a lot (I try to be there at least once every 3 weeks) as I want to be with my wife and daughter all the time. I really love both of them and miss the time they were with me together. My wife also occasionally visits me by staying away from university whenever she can. Now it is her last semester and that also will end this year, when they will join me back in Dubai.

Although the decision to send her back to university was mine, I really feel sick at the thought when I hear people telling me that it is the first two years of a child when the brain cells develop. And the rest of the time, the baby uses that development to proceed further until puberty.

Our daughter is taken care of most of the time by my mother-in-law who, ma sha’ Allah, takes very good care of her. But I still feel very uncomfortable with the fact that our daughter spends just a few hours a day with her mom and a few hours a month with her dad. I have observed, and so have my relatives and my wife, that our daughter has become really possessive about me. Although she is just a little above 9 months old, whenever she sees me she hugs me and gives me a lot of kisses, and she enjoys playing with me.

Can you please guide us in light of Islamic teachings what we as parents, should do in this situation to ensure that our daughter's rights from her parents do not get disrupted? Thanks and Jazaka-Allahu khayran.

Answer

In this counseling answer:

•She will soon go to preschool to be raised, in part by her teacher and peers. She may attend prayers or classes at the mosque and she will visit friends and family members and learn important lessons from them – ones that you cannot teach her.

•Being far away from your daughter can also be an opportunity for you to relate to her in other ways, and create memories that she can appreciate in the future.

Chat with the Life Coach

How about sending her “love letters” every week or a postcard every week? She would love getting the mail now, and as she gets older and older, I am sure those letters would be read many times.


Salam Aleikom,

Ma’sha-Allah, you are a very loving and committed husband and father and should be commended for your concern and efforts. It sounds like your situation will come to an end soon and that for now your wife and you have been able to see each other frequently, even though it is not as frequent as is perhaps “ideal”.

You can rest assured in knowing that children are most healthy when raised by a community rather than their family alone. Many societies around the world practice this important balance. Community is a very important part of Islam.

In fact, once your family and you are together again you will find that your daughter will still not be with you every moment. She will soon go to preschool to be raised, in part by her teacher and peers. She may attend prayers or classes at the mosque and she will visit friends and family members and learn important lessons from them – ones that you cannot teach her.

A child that is familiar with relating to many different people and feels love from many different people will grow to be a healthy confident and loving adult.

Additionally, each child is given to us, as parents, as a gift. We are to love and care for them but they come with their own path and destiny in life. Perhaps, through the wisdom of Allah your daughter needs these two years with your mother-in-law to help her fulfill her destiny. We cannot always know what wisdom is in our life circumstances, however, as Muslims, we can trust that Allah knows and that these things are happening for a reason.

Going beyond Islam and community I can also reassure you that you have plenty of time to bond with your daughter. Of course, it would be ideal to not be in this situation. I am not discounting the value of your relationship with her from an early age. I agree with everything you have said. Yes, it would be preferable if you could be with her. However, you cannot.

In this you can rest assured that she will remain in the state of “childhood” until she is 7. Yes, the first two years are important; however, if you take care to preserve her childhood until she is 7, this would be the best for her. It is between 0-7 that we call the “formative years”, not between 0 – 2.

The reason that these formative years end earlier for so many children in modern society is that we create many situations in which our children are forced to grow up too early. Things that can cause children to grow up too early are:

-Watching television before the age of 3

-Watching television more than a few hours a week

-Having too many electronic and plastic toys

-Being taught logical thinking at too young of age (like learning to read when they are 4)

-Talking to them like young adults

-Exposing them to too many commercial images

-Providing them with too many electronic toys

-Not enough creative toys

or

-Sending them to preschool full time instead of allowing them to play, imagine and experience the freedom of childhood The longer you can preserve her childhood, the better for your relationship with her, and for her own personal development. Being

far away from your daughter can also be an opportunity for you to relate to her in other ways, and create memories that she can appreciate in the future. How about sending her “love letters” every week or a postcard every week? She would love getting the mail now, and as she gets older and older, I am sure those letters would be read many times.

-Do you call her frequently?

-How about video chat?

There are so many ways in which you can be with a person – try exploring some of these other ways too while you wait to be reunited with her.

Salaams,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Dr. Karima Burns
Dr. Karima Burns has been counseling as a Home-path for over 9 years. From the U.S. she is a doctor in Naturopathy, a Master Herbalist, and teaches with inspiration from the Waldorf school. She uses art, health and education to heal others.