19 June, 2022
As-salamu `alaykum, My husband is Arab and I am British and our son is 7 years old. Ma sha' Allah he is a very intelligent child, but also quite demanding and this is my worry. You see, when he was younger I was able to meet his enormous demands to learn/play/do creative things, etc. But as the years have gone by, (not only did we move from England to my husband's country where the only way for a woman to really get about is by car; most accommodation is in flats with no access to a garden; extremely hot daytime weather etc.), I have had pregnancy after pregnancy; and so my time is also divided among his three younger sisters (and my own needs to rest as I am pregnant again!). So I have noticed that he has become less enquiring, less demanding and generally less "radiant." I've asked my husband to spend time with him, but culturally I feel that he sees child-rearing as women's work. Many of my friends (Westerners married to Arabs) have also expressed their concerns about their sons. I think the general belief here is that so long as the man is providing financially he's doing his job as far as his kids go. So I try to take all of my children to the park once a week so that they can at least play with other children like themselves (mixed race — cultural awareness here is very much ingrained at school), but I feel it is not enough. I sit with the women and the kids play, and ma sha' Allah they are good kids but, I still feel that there is a lack of supervision or "direction" and that what they really need is a male role model figure to direct their play, speak to them about their concerns, etc. but there JUST ISN'T ANY!! During the day, my time is divided between doing the cleaning/cooking/ school run (which takes approx 2.5 hours as my kids are all at different schools)/shopping, etc. that I don't have time to spend "quality time" with my children. My husband comes home from work around 3 and usually sleeps till Maghrib, after which we have dinner and my kids go off to bed directly. They REALLY don't spend much time with my husband at all during the week, and on the weekend, like I said, I take them out one day, and the next is spent usually with my husband's family (where the women and kids go one way and the men another!!!). Basically, I feel like I'm losing my son and he's only 7! Also, I am quite a strict person as I feel that it is my duty to teach my kids self-reliance and independence, so I make sure that they clean their room and make their beds, etc., including my son. I also have to chase them up about their prayers and I feel that this strictness is also a barrier in helping my son to grow — yet I know that it is essential if I'm easy-going nothing gets done! Somehow, my girls seem to be doing better than my son, i.e., they seem more well-rounded, more affectionate, not frustrated, not highly strung and I wonder "where am I going wrong?" Please, can you shed some light on raising boys and in specific the ideal mother-son relationship/approach to discipline/rearing. Thanks very much and I'm sorry that this is long.
You sum it up nicely when you say, “I think the general belief here is that so long as the man is providing financially he’s doing his job as far as his kids go.” It’s unfortunate, but your son is reflecting his father’s apathy and absence of true passion in and for life.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said that children are the secrets of their parents. Men in the modern world of Islam are so divorced from their own true spirits that they focus solely on the outward and cannot find or live by their own real truth. Such is the depth of the hopelessness they feel and the distance they feel from the fire of their true love of God.
But there is hope. Often a word to the wise is sufficient. Again, the absence of the teachings of the inner life is so dominant, I mean they have been so eradicated, that they are hard to find anywhere. Will the real men of Allah please stand up and become the inspirations they’re meant to be, at least for their own children’s sakes? You are the mother and let him be the father.
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