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When Parenting Turns Toxic

This Style of Parenting May Push Your Children Far from Islam

Raising children in today’s world can be difficult.

Whether you live in the West or in a Muslim majority country, challenges arise.

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Children seem to grow up faster. They know a lot more than we did at their age, as they are exposed to a lot more than we ever were with the growing world of social media.

The task of instilling religion into our children is a difficult and delicate one. We can’t protect them from everything that is out there, and it is not good to wrap them in cotton wool.

This Style of Parenting May Push Your Children Far from Islam - About Islam

As parents, we have to guide them, we have to lead by example, and we have to give Islamic guidelines to abide by.

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We have a choice as to how we raise our children. If we are too liberal with them, they will grow up without Islamic principles and life lessons.

They will grow up entitled and believe that they can do anything they like without consequence. They will have no idea about Islam and its values whatsoever.

On the other hand, if we are oppressive towards them and enforce religion on them without any explanation or guidelines, then we run the risk of them hating the religion and, later on in life, rejecting it entirely.

Don’t get me wrong, we have to teach our children Islamic values and we have to make sure they understand and follow them.

We have to be strict about that, otherwise our children will grow up without those values, and that is when we will face issues in our Muslim society.

However, there is a difference between being strict with what we teach our children and forcing religion on them.

Let’s take the hijab, for example. Allah enjoins women to cover in the Quran; 

“And enjoin believing women to cast down their looks and guard their private parts and not reveal their adornment except that which is revealed of itself, and to draw their veils over their bosoms,” (Quran 24:31). 

However, if we force that onto our daughters, without proper understanding, what do you think will happen?

Some parents use emotional blackmail to get their daughters to wear hijab.

They tell them, for example, if they don’t wear it, the parents will go to Hell. However, using this method may make our daughters react negatively towards hijab. They may grow up hating it, seeing it as oppressive.

And for the lack of proper understanding, the risk here is that they will eventually remove it.

We, as parents, must look into ourselves and re-educate ourselves on how we talk to our children about our religious obligations.

We have to reflect on how we were brought up, take the good and leave the bad.

It is possible to educate our children without backlash and oppression, but we have to find those methods and make use of them.

So how can we tackle this without pushing our children away?

How can we make them carry out their obligations in Islam without our children hating them and later on rejecting them?

It is a fine balance and it is a heavy responsibility, but it is something we have to manage as parents.

Lead by Example

We need to lead by example. If we are expecting our children to pray, then we have to pray.

They need to see us praying, but not only that, they should see us prioritize the prayer. There is no point in lecturing our children if they see that we are not taking it seriously.

Here’s what I did when I found my daughter reluctant to pray, giving us a heavy sigh every time we asked her:

I decided to have a chat with her.

Instead of chastising, I reassured her that she was not in trouble before asking why she didn’t like to pray. She responded that she was trying to relax and play games, without interruption.

I then told her that many people feel that way from time-to-time.

We are busy. We don’t want to be interrupted, but we have to remember that this prayer is for Allah.

This Style of Parenting May Push Your Children Far from Islam - About Islam

Allah sees who loves Him the most when we pray.

He wants to see that we are serious about worshiping Him so we should try our best to pray on time.

I realize this will take time for her to understand, but talking to her properly, rather than shouting and corecing, will help her understand and love the prayer.

Encouragement Instead of Chastisement

“O Aisha, Allah is gentle and He loves gentleness. He rewards for gentleness what is not granted for harshness and He does not reward anything else like it.” Sahih Muslim 2593.

When we encourage our children to pray, fast, and wear hijab, rather than put immense pressure on them to do it, it will be received far better.

It might take days, months, or years before our children are convinced of certain things.

This Style of Parenting May Push Your Children Far from Islam - About Islam

However, the key is to gently encourage them and gently guide them.

Let’s be patient and make dua to Allah that our children will be guided in the right way.

If we are harsh or if we punish them, we are not going to make our children love Allah or Islam. On the contrary, they will fear Allah in the wrong way and hate Islam.

Educate, Educate, Educate

Education is key and it comes from us, their parents.

You cannot expect the imams in the mosque to do it all. You can not expect your Sunday school Islamic teacher to do it either.

Education starts at home.

When my daughter asks me questions about our religious obligations, I explain to her as much as possible, and if I don’t know the answers to these questions, I find out.

If I am not sure or need advice, I will go to someone I know who has been successful with this. There is nothing wrong with reaching out for advice when needed.

If we raise our children to be too liberal, then we leave Islam out of the equation.

On the other hand, if we raise our children in an oppressive way, practicing Islam will feel like a punishment to them.

When we are oppressive, we will give our children the wrong impression of Islam, and that is an injustice on our part.

We need to instil Islamic values into our children and make sure they carry them out by taking the middle way.

Being too forceful or too lenient is not the way.

We need to follow the middle path. That way, we will raise good, balanced children who understand their religion properly.