Finally, I discovered that my older son is smoking cigarettes in school and outside with non-Muslim friends. When I faced him, he told me “I know smoking is bad for me but I don’t want to be stranger, I want to be like the other boys.”
I’m confused and scared. I’m afraid of losing my son one day in this non-Muslim world.
In this counseling answer:
We suggest that you sit down and talk to your son about how unique and special he is. Let him know that you love him and that Allah loves him.
Remind your son that he does not have to smoke to fit in with this group of friends and you will help him find other young people, perhaps through the masjid community.
The bottom line is that you are becoming more involved in your son’s life and helping him to deal with this challenge of his circle of friends.
As-salamu `alaykum Sister,
Thank you for writing to us. As a mother of six, you are to be commended for the personal attention you are giving to the son who is smoking cigarettes. Here are some thoughts for your consideration.
First, Allah Most High has granted mutual rights and responsibilities to parents and children. You as the parent have the responsibility, for example, to socialize your children to live their lives according to the Islamic tradition.
Your son, for example, has the responsibility to treat you with respect in all circumstances and to obey you as long as obedience to you does not entail disobedience to Allah Most High. Once the child reaches the age of puberty, or once the child is mukallaf (accountable), the responsibility of personal conduct rests solely with that child.
The parents do not bear the burden of the children’s conduct after the children are mature. Even though we are addressing you in this response, we urge you to involve your husband in resolving this matter.
Second, in the case of your son smoking cigarettes, you should be relieved and concerned. You should be relieved that your son talks to you about his feelings and you should be relieved that he is not telling you that he actually likes smoking.
He only tells you that he smokes to fit in, to be accepted, to not feel like he is a stranger.
All of this should be a relief to you because parents are often challenged by the fact that their children do not speak to them openly, and in many cases, the children hide their behavior or deny it outright.
You should be concerned, however, about your son’s friends. What alternatives can you provide him so that he does not spend time with such friends? Whom else can he befriend if he cannot spend time with these friends who smoke?
Third, we suggest that you sit down and talk to your son about how unique and special he is. Let him know that you love him and that Allah loves him.
Remind your son that he does not have to smoke to fit in with this group of friends and that he can for sure leave this group of friends and that you will help him find other young people, perhaps through the masjid community, with whom he can spend time.
Remember that having Muslim friends is no guarantee that they will not smoke or engage in other negative behaviors. However, the bottom line is that you are becoming more involved in your son’s life and helping him to deal with this challenge of his circle of friends.
Check out this counseling video:
Finally, make du`aa’ to Allah to guide your son and to assist you in helping your son to overcome this habit. In sha’ Allah, with enough effort, you can find a Muslim youth group, or you can form a group if none exists.
Your son needs to know that you care, that you want to be involved in his life, and that in the end, he will be responsible for his actions. Befriend your son and, in sha’ Allah, help him through these difficult years.
And Allah knows best.
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