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Parenting: Not What I Thought It Would Be

04 February, 2024
Q As salamu `alaykum, after I gave birth to my daughter, I stopped working. Consequently, I lost lots of social contacts and I became psycho-somatic, I suffered from panic attacks, felt lonely and became ill numerous times.

At this moment, our child is 2-year-old, we spend all day at home together, we annoy each other. My child needs to play with others, and I miss my personal time.

Sometimes, I get very angry at her to the point that the situation gets out of proportion. When my husband comes home from work he sometimes loses his temper.

My husband and I were wondering if you could advise us. How can we be better parents? How can we spend our time better with our daughter?

I also have a question for myself: is a woman allowed to work, with her husband helping during the house routine?

For some reason, people make me believe that a husband's place in marriage is only work and that he shouldn't be involved with all house matters and parenting. Thank you


In this counseling answer:

•For better parenting, you must recognize your needs and the needs of your daughter..

•Remain in contact with relatives.

•Use the social support mechanisms that do exist; e.g. friends, kindergarten, neighbors, outdoor activities for children/families.

• There is nothing to prevent your husband from helping out in the home beyond cultural definitions of the role of the husband/father that deprive the child of knowing the meaning of fatherhood

As-salamu `alaikum my sister,

It would seem that you are very good at listening to others, and not listening to yourself. As a result, you suffer psycho-somatic symptoms because basically, you feel you have no control over your life, as you have given control of life over to others.

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For some people, going out to work is important as a mechanism for valuing one’s self and for socialization. For others, work is not a measure of self-worth, and they can find alternative means of socialization and self-validation.

As a social being, you went from one extreme to another, from a social environment to an unsocial environment. Your home became an unsocial environment because you made it so, whether intentionally or not.

If a mother is under-stimulated, then a child is also bound to be under-stimulated. There is an African saying that it takes a whole village to raise a child. In a society that has moved from an extended family system to a nuclear family system, this makes a big difference for a child growing up today.

A child in an extended family set-up has many adults, as well as other children, to refer to their needs. The child has greater emotional, psychological and social skills than a child who has been raised in a nuclear family setting.

Having experienced both, I can tell you that parenting is a lot easier under an extended family setting because the parents too have the support and they can even take time out for themselves.

Parenting: Not What I Thought It Would Be - About Islam

Today, many families create an alternative by:

1-Remaining in contact with relatives

2-Using the social support mechanisms that do exist; e.g. friends, kindergarten, neighbors, outdoor activities for children/families.

For those who are fortunate, a child has the whole neighborhood to relate to if they live in a village, the countryside etc.

In your situation, you need to re-build the family social network and relationships with good friends who would make good co-parents i.e., the kind of friends that you would feel comfortable leaving your child with for a couple of hours while you take a break or go out on a date with your husband for instance.

So, to put it bluntly, no wonder you and your daughter annoy each other. Both of you have needs that are not being met. You are not giving her what she needs e.g. your attention because you may be resenting the situation, hence why your daughter is being demanded.

Child Development

Two-year-olds are learning about themselves and are discovering what they want, and what they do not want. They are learning to see themselves as separate beings and saying “No” for the sake of it is a demonstration of that part of their development.

Temper tantrums are a result of learning to manage their feelings. Do not test their patience, because they can wait only for a short while. They have strong feelings that can burst out in a rush of frustration, fear or excitement.

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Losing fear of such feelings can be frightening to them, so they need to know from you (physical contact) that you still love them no matter what.

They are learning about relationships. They sometimes do not have room for imagining the feelings of others, especially if they are jealous. They can play with others for a short time, but not for long because they are not quite ready to share yet.

They cannot control their impulses, and might know what you want them to do, but they cannot make themselves, especially if there is something else that they want to do.  

They like to copy adults and the way they look, so be mindful of your actions and emotions and be a good role model. They will build houses out of boxes, play moms and dads with dolls and dress-up.

Within their environment, their imagination plays a greater role, so they have difficulty with reality. They cannot differ between what is real and what is not real, so be mindful as to what you allow them to see on T.V. 

You can help them to have a better sense of reality when they keep asking that question “Why?” Answer them in a language they can understand. If they fall over and hurt themselves, they will blame the path that they are walking on.

If any of the above sounds familiar to you, it is because your daughter is merely going through a developmental process. As such, if they are impeded in any way from that learning process, the next stage in their development will be negatively affected.

To be better parents, you must recognize your needs and the needs of your daughter, but that your needs are not equal to the needs of your daughter. I have already mentioned how you can see to your needs by developing a social support network.

This will help you to be more available not just physically, but emotionally as well. Then you are better placed to see and recognize the needs of your child.

“If you wish to reform others then reform yourself first. It is a major failing that you stand up to correct others while you yourselves are having aberrations which need reform” – `Ali ibn Abu Talib.

In trying to understand why a child misbehaves:

•Identifying one behavior you would like to change – e.g. whining, demanding things

•Write down when the behavior occurs: what triggers it, what followed, and how you felt and behaved

•After a week, see if there is a pattern to the occurrence of the behavior

•Ask yourself, what is my daughter learning from the way I am responding/reacting

•Ask yourself, if you are consistent with setting the rules/boundaries

There is nothing to prevent you from working outside of the home, beyond a mutual agreement with your husband; but a child in a nuclear family set-up does need to have at least the mother around as a part of their social and psychological development.

At the same time, there is nothing to prevent your husband from helping out in the home beyond cultural definitions of the role of the husband/father that deprive the child of knowing the meaning of fatherhood. There is no better example than Prophet Muhammad, (SAW):

A`ishah wife of the Prophet (SA) said :‘Whenever the Prophet (SA) was free from his work, he used to sew his clothes, repair his shoes and used to work at home like other men’ (Bukhari 7: 64 # 276)



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 Hwaa Irfan
Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.