In this counseling answer:
•Take her out for lunch or a tea somewhere quiet.
•Tell her that you would like to spend some quality time with her.
•Help your daughter remove these communication blocks so that she opens up and talks to you about the issues she is most concerned about.
•Listening to her perspective and reducing the authority in speech and action is now required in order to build loving bridges during this turmoilous time of teenage years.
As-Salamu ’Alaykum sister,
Thank you for writing to us with your most important concern. I am sorry you had to find out about your daughter’s “boyfriend” through her phone pictures, rather than her telling you. I am sure it was a shock to you to see her with a boy.
I am sure you raised her in an Islamic home, sister, and I am sure you taught her good behaviors and morals. However, as you know, 16 is a very difficult time in regards to managing emotions and reactions. It is also a time wherein sexual urges are high, the desire to be “liked” by the opposite sex is appealing, as well as trying to fit in “with the crowd” is tempting.
Sister, as you taught her good morals, did you also teach her how to avoid falling into haram acts? Did you provide coping skills, practical tips, and open door policy so she could talk to you about anything? I am not asking these questions in an accusatory way sister, but am asking because as parents we often teach our children right from wrong but we often fail to teach them coping skills to deal with temptations.
Sometimes in trying to keep our children on the right path we often build walls (don’t do this or else…) instead of bridges (If you ever feel like you want to talk, I am here for you….). I think most parents have done this at one time or another as we often forget that open, safe and loving communication with our teen kids will go farther than a set of do’s and don’ts.
I would kindly suggest sister that first of all you don’t assume. The picture could be totally innocent beside the beer and the fact she was with a male). It could be that he is not her boyfriend, but just a boy at school whom she knows. He could be Muslim, Muslim kids do fall short!).In not assuming, you are giving her the benefit of the doubt when you do talk to her and by not assuming the worst, you are insha’Allah opening up the lines of communication wherein if you accuse her, it could shut them down.
I would kindly suggest sister that you take her out for lunch or a tea somewhere quiet. Tell her that you would like to spend some quality time with her and see where she would like to go for lunch/tea. I usually suggest a tea/lunch-dinner date as it is more conducive to having a conversation, there are little interruptions and people usually sit face to face.
With that said, I would begin the conversation with how proud you are of her and how you are proud of the fine young lady she is growing up to be. While this may be hard as emotions are running high as you just saw the picture, the idea is to get her to trust you, to open up to you and view you as not only her mother-but as her best friend.
At 16, you have already raised her and your relationship should be on a different level by now. I would suggest following up by telling her of time (or two) when you were her age and experienced success or failure. I would encourage you to talk to her about how you felt when you first started liking boys and what it felt like, and how you coped with temptations. Talk about your relationship with your mom when you were her age and what you wished she did differently (if anything) or share how your mom was supportive. While talking with her about your experiences as a teenager, ask her for her feedback.
You can ask her “well what would you have done” or “have you ever felt like this?” The goal of all this sister is trust: to share yourself with your daughter, so she will begin to open up and share with you. At this point, you can only guide your daughter if she feels safe to talk to you and trust you with her secrets”; with her fears, her mistakes as well as successes.
While I do not know what kind of relationship the two of you have now, or had in the past, it is a good time to try to restructure the relationship creating one in which she not only respects you as her mother but trusts you as a friend whom she can come to no matter what she does or does not do. While you may have a good relationship, often times as you know from being a teen, there are certain things as teens we did not tell our parents for fear of letting them down, fear of punishment, or because we simply felt they would not understand.
The practical way of helping your daughter now is to remove these communication blocks. When we seek repentance from Allah, it is because we fear Him (respect), we are sad to disappoint him (love) and we seek His forgiveness and guidance in the future. As Allah loves to forgive, so we too as parents should love to forgive our children and offer guidance.
According to Islam, by the time your child is around 14, your role in your daughter’s life is still that of a mentor, educator and now a friend. Listening to her perspective and reducing the authority in speech and action is now required in order to build loving bridges during this turmoilous time of teenage years. I know it is a difficult thing to do because we want the best for our children and it devastates us when we see them doing things that could or do harm them, however, if we hope to be viewed as one who is a trusted friend as well as a parent, we must let go of outgrown ways. Allah knows best.
Getting back to the picture, sister. My heart goes out to you. As a parent, I know the hurt – my first reaction when hearing my daughter might be dating was not good and it did not go well. I learned my approach was not the best, I changed and then my daughter changed. She did not change overnight; it took time, but it was so worth it. Now she comes to me with everything, and she is a wonderfully moral, beautiful young lady.
I am confident you raised an intelligent, moral young lady who likes every other teen-and human being-falls sometimes. I would kindly suggest that you do not bring up the picture per say as this may break any growing sense of trust and bonding that is occurring during your time together for lunch. Do, however, inquire during your conversation if there is anyone she is interested in for marriage. If the conversation has been going well, this should prompt a reply in regards to the picture. If not, insha’Allah continue to build communication and trust with her from here on out. Insha’Allah she will eventually respond to your efforts by confiding in you with her concerns and needs as well as seek out your advice.
I would also kindly suggest that you remind her that you love her and trust that she will make good decisions and assure her that you are there for her to talk to about anything and that you value her as your daughter and as a young woman. This may be even a harder test than finding the picture as it requires you to let go a little, to trust fully in Allah’s mercy as well as restructure your role in your daughter’s life. Make du’aa’ for your daughter, and trust in Allah.
We wish you both the best.
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