Youth often believe that parents just don’t understand them. Muslim youth must cultivate their Muslim identities while doing the busy work growing into young adults. To them, their world is a unique place that only others their age understand. Parents are on the outside looking in, only knowing what they’re told and what they see.
From tirelessly managing school work to successfully navigating social spaces, youth learn to be adaptable in order to thrive. But the same adaptability that can lead to youths’ success can also lead to the demise of one of their most important relationships—their relationship with their parents.
As a result, many Muslim youth tend to live double lives in order to avoid clashing with their parents. Here’s what parents can do in order to address this problem:
Youth who are being raised in countries whose Muslim population is not the majority will face special challenges. They may try to preserve their Muslim identities within cultures with secular values or conflicting with Islamic principles.
It’s important to help youth from an early age to know that they don’t have to accept the cultural norms that they live among—especially if they are unislamic. Stress that they are a part of the environment but don’t have to take part in it. This may decrease their feeling torn between two worlds. They don’t need to present themselves one way in the Muslim community and another way out in the world.
Many young Muslims are inspired by what’s trendy and popular, in mainstream and Muslim niches. These trends may be considered Muslim chic, but older generation Muslims may find the youths’ actions and clothing immodest.
Instead of being quick to forbid, consider a compromise. First, listen to what they want to accomplish. Then, find a solution that both of you agree on. This will reduce the chance of the youth sneaking around to do certain things or wear certain clothes.
There are so many social media apps available that parents must make the effort to at least familiarize themselves with the ones that their children use the most. It’s easy for youth to develop online personas that project the perfect image of themselves that they want others to believe.
To help our youth avoid living double lives, take a genuine interest in the things they have to say and the things they do. Show that you’re a superior listener to anyone they’d find on social media. Earn their trust so that they feel comfortable being themselves around you.
As parents, how well we communicate with our children can be the difference between them living a double life and them being comfortable being their true authentic selves. Each new day that Allah (swt) allows us to see is a new chance to listen to our children without judgement and talk to them from a place of love.
First published: November 2019