My child's father rejected Christianity at a young age and became an atheist. Our marriage was not a good one. My self-esteem was very low.
It was some time afterward we divorced. I met a good Muslim man who wanted to marry me and wanted to help give my daughter and I a good life.
He introduced me to Islam which I accepted later, al hamdu Lillah, after some research on my own.
We want to raise my daughter Islamically, but she is influenced by her [biological] father half the time since we share custody.
How can my new husband and I be a good influence on her?
In this counseling answer:
•Work on cultivating a relationship with your daughter that is based on love, respect, clear expectations, and fu.
•Help her to understand through yours and your husband’s actions
•Children intuitively need and want those guidelines and clear boundaries even when they rebel against them.
•Explain to her that it is only when someone loves them that they will correct them, and try to help them be better.
•Spend time playing with her and enjoy the time you have together.
• Learn through her eyes and imagination in the same way that she will learn from your loving guidance.
My dear sister…
May Allah bless and reward you for wanting to be a good parent. In fact it is one of the most important roles in society, and as it comes with great challenges, so too, it comes with great rewards.
Allah (SWT) guided you out of a relationship that was difficult, and one which did not allow your soul to thrive, in a way you could not see your true worth and potential; and has guided you to something better by His Divine Mercy.
I think the most important thing is for you and your husband to work on cultivating a relationship with your daughter that is based on love, respect, clear expectations, and fun.
All of this should be woven around your love for Allah (SWT).
Help her to understand through yours and your husband’s actions that Allah (SWT) is the most important centre for us in our lives.
He gave us life and that we will return to Him eventually.
However, HOW you do it, is just as important, if not more. What you want to avoid is preaching and lecturing.
This will make it become easy for her to want to “escape” to the easier option of not having any guidelines with her biological father.
What you want to do is to make things become a natural part of your daily life. So you wake up in the morning, say the du’aa (supplications) for waking up together.
Go and have breakfast, make it fun to see who will remind the others to say their du’aas. Include her in helping to tidy up.
By simply adding the du’aa to the day to day activities, you will help her understand the relationship she needs to have with Allah.
Spend time playing with her and enjoy the time you have together. Learn through her eyes and imagination in the same way that she will learn from your loving guidance.
However, when it is time to pray, stop and pray, “because we always have to put Allah first”.
If at first, she does not want to, then let her sit and watch with you, and slowly encourage her to join.
Make dhikr (remembrance of Allah), and let her count on your hands or use your tasbi’h (dhikr beads) to help count. Make du’aa together for the things you want.
In so doing, you continue to cultivate a loving relationship with her but one centered on Allah.
All of these activities will help to centre her and her identity. As she sees your interactions with people older than you, she will learn that elders are treasures, and we treat them with respect even if we don’t always agree with what they say or do.
Make some of the stories you read to her be about Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him and his Companions).
Even if they are not geared to children, you can read and change the language as you read to help her understand and learn.
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There will be many natural conversations that will occur and will help her to see and understand what you want her to do insha-Allah.
Monitor what she watches, and the games and toys she plays with. Many parents simply allow their children to watch what is marketed as “kid shows”.
Even some programs on channels such as Disney run counter to the belief systems that we have- their portrayal of women, men’s attitudes to women, what a child/teenager should or should not be doing etc.
Hopefully you do not have a TV in her room, and so if she watches TV it’s in your living room, and you will know the content.
Media plays a significant role in fostering attitudes in our children. At the same time, if you do have it don’t take away everything, find some things that are OK, and watch them with her.
In that way, when you can’t be there with her, she will know which shows/Internet sites she can or cannot go to.
With regards to her biological father’s relationship with her, it is important that as she begins to ask you questions about why he does things a certain way, that you help her to learn that through his experiences in life he lost his connection to God and that maybe one day he will find it again.
However, always remind her that she has to respect him and treat him with love, even if she begins to disagree with some of the things he says and does.
Help her to find her voice, and teach her some of the ways that she can respectfully question and find her own voice as this will empower her in conversations with her father.
If it is that he allows for total freedom, and no guidelines which are counter to what she may have at home, do not feel like you are a hostage to that.
Continue having clear guidelines and expectations, actions have consequences, always putting Allah first but balancing it with fun, and lots and lots of love.
Children intuitively need and want those guidelines and clear boundaries even when they rebel against them.
Explain to her that it is only when someone loves them that they will correct them, and try to help them be better because you will not always be around and sometimes she will need to make choices.
You want her to make the best choices she can so she can be successful before people and Allah.
Insha-Allah these are some key ideas that you can use, however, I suspect that you are already walking on this path.
I pray that Allah (SWT) continues to bless you and guide you, your husband and daughter and grant you the best of the dunya and the highest of the Akhira.
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