In this counseling answer:
•You have to pay attention to him, monitor his behavior and his moods, but try to resist the temptation to “help” him through this phase.He will ultimately seek your help, in sha’ Allah, but right now he just needs you to be there if and when he ever feels he wants to open up to you.
•While you should be concerned that his grades are slipping and he seems withdrawn, we caution you from becoming too obsessed with making sure he improves his grades, because you will end up missing other signals your son might be sending about his emotional and mental state of mind.
•Work with him to establish a study routine that he can follow as well as reminding him gently about his chores around the house.
How wonderful that your son has such a caring parent, ma sha’ Allah! Here are some thoughts for your consideration.
First, remember that unless there are some serious behavioral issues with your son, he is manifesting normal, age-appropriate behaviors. Allah Most High has created us and willed that we go through certain stages of physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development. Perhaps the most dynamic, sometimes volatile, most awesome transition is the one from being a child to becoming a teenager.
We know that harnessing the energy of these years and channeling it for productive use is also a great challenge that parents all over the world face. However, we also know that with Allah’s help and lots of love and nurturing, most teenagers emerge into adulthood as functional, upright beings.
Second, remember that your son is himself quite bewildered at the physical and emotional changes he is experiencing, and he needs you to just be there for him. He might be embarrassed at what is happening to him, and while he might have talked to you about “everything” before, the early teenage years bring about a sort of awkwardness where the teens avoid talking about what they are experiencing physically and emotionally.
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He will ultimately seek your help, in sha’ Allah, but right now he just needs you to be there if and when he ever feels he wants to open up to you. He might not open up when you want him to, but he will, in sha’ Allah. Pushing him too hard to open up earlier than he is ready to do so could backfire and he might close up even more. Be patient with him, in sha’ Allah.
Third, adolescence also marks the start of a search for an identity. Your son has been an A-B student, so you know full well that he is bright, intelligent, and capable of performing well in school.
While you should be concerned that his grades are slipping and he seems withdrawn, we caution you from becoming too obsessed with making sure he improves his grades, because you will end up missing other signals your son might be sending about his emotional and mental state of mind. Work with him to establish a study routine that he can follow as well as reminding him gently about his chores around the house.
As he questions his own identity more and more, he will go through phases of certainty and uncertainty as to what he ultimately wants to do in life. While he is reflecting on his identity he might seem withdrawn, but you should not worry unless you notice unseemly, aggressive, or outright sinful conduct.
Finally, we caution you from making your goals for your son the main driving force for your intervention with him. As your son experiences adolescence, he will want to assert his independence, and any moment he perceives that you are trying to live out your own childhood through him, he will lose trust and confidence in you.
Build confidence and trust by making small, consistent gestures to show him that you are there for him by supporting him and by remaining involved in his life.
Remember that there is a fine line between involvement and interference.
We do recommend that you acquire the book Living With Teenagers: A Guide for Muslim Parents by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood.
Make du`aa’ to Allah to bless your son and to guide him, in sha’ Allah, to have a safe and productive adolescent experience. And Allah knows best.
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