Ask about Parenting (Counseling Session)

Salaam `Alaikum dears brothers and sisters,

We would like to thank you for joining us in this Counseling Session.

We would like also to thank our counselor, sister Hannah for answering the questions.

Feel free to send your questions to [email protected]

Monday, Nov. 25, 2019 | 10:00 - 00:00 Makkah | 07:00 - 21:00 GMT

Session is over.

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Question 1 - About Islam

Q: 

As-Salamu Alaykum. Both my daughter and I were raised in the West. I went to elementary school to university in the West and my daughter was born here. She is 7 years old. Therefore, our issue is not a cultural problem as we are both from the same culture. It is more a personality clash problem. I am an introvert and she is an extreme extrovert.

I like to relax and think after work and she wants a ton of people around. I try to balance her needs by taking her places but it is never enough. She wants constant company, laughter, talking and people to entertain. I get drained after 1 hour and really exhausted after 2 hours. My concern in our travel is how to deal with this issue as I feel worried she may keep demanding round the clock and socializing while I want to rest and relax over a cup of tea.

A:

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

Regardless of whether you are mother and daughter, friends, or even acquaintances mixing with others who have a different personality to us can be incredibly challenging, especially when they are polar opposites such as being an introvert and an extrovert.

The introvert may be overwhelmed with the demands of the extrovert and the extrovert may be underwhelmed by the lack of interaction with the introvert. What makes things especially difficult in your situation is that the clash is between yourself and your daughter.

Your daughter depends on you so it is not something you can avoid in the way you could with a friend or acquaintance. Additionally, she is young and like most children of her age is in need of constant stimulation to avoid feeling bored and potentially causing trouble due to feeling they have nothing to do to keep themselves busy so naturally they turn to the parent or caregiver to have their needs met.

You do all you can to entertain her but run out of steam before her and take her to places as much as possible but it is still not enough for her. However, there are some alternative approaches you could take to try and meet both of your needs.

Definitely continue to give her some time as you have done already to maintain the bond between you, but find a way beyond that to still meet her needs whilst you quietly withdraw. Find something that you can do together that requires your input to start with to get her going and help her to get started on the task and have you to hand if she gets stuck and then encourage her to continue by herself as you take a step back but which letting her know if she gets stuck she can still call on you.

To encourage her more in enjoying completing these tasks independently give her lots of encouragement. Verbally reward when she has completed something by herself and this will encourage her to continue to find ways to manage her own high need to keep busy.

You could also encourage her to engage in outside sports and social clubs of interest that don’t require you to even be present. Support her by taking her and even watching her take part if possible, but then enjoy not having to take part whilst she has the opportunity to interact with others and keep busy with things that are of interest to her. If she makes some good friends then allow her to invite them over to your house every now and again Again, this gives her the opportunity to have her needs met whilst you also have the chance to have yours met too.

There may be times when you have to compromise and be more engaged when perhaps you don’t want to, but she is also young and it is not unusual for children of her age to be like this. She may lose this personality trait as she grows older. It may just be a product of her age as it is. Likewise, she also needs to learn to compromise at times too and this will be a good, valuable life skill that she needs to learn.

Perhaps you could even sit down together and write a schedule where you take it in turns to decide what you will do on each day. This way she is empowered to make some choices and have her high demand socialization met, but you will equally get the chance to suggest quieter and less demanding activities too.

This way you will both have to compromise on certain days and on others will have your needs met. It will also give her a chance to try out quieter activities that she may even come to enjoy and even if she doesn’t at first, she knows that it is her choice of activity next. This will teach her the skills to compromise and cooperate with others – a skill that children don’t always naturally have, but yet it is an important skill to learn to succeed in life.

May Allah make things easier for you moving forward and bring peace and happiness in the lives of you and your daughter in both this life and the next.


Q:

I am a revert to Islam and will be getting married next month to a Muslim man from the Middle East. We were discussing how to raise our future children, insha’Allah, as Muslims in North America?

A:

As-salamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

Alhamdulilah that Allah has guided you to Islam. May it continue to be a source of guidance and contentment in your life. Masha Allah and congratulations on your marriage. This is great news. Since you are both Muslim raising children together should not come as too much of a challenge as Islam is a way of life and how to raise children Islamically is clearly outlined in the Qur’an and Sunnah. However, as someone who is new to Islam and has been raised in a different type of environment, it may all be quite diffident to what you know and we’re raised with. There may be some elements of this that are very compatible with Islam and then others that may be completely contrary.

If they are things that you are happy to leave behind, then alhamdulilah these parts will be easy and since your children would not have been exposed to the same it would not be a challenge for them as they don’t know any different. However, you may also find that there are some aspects of your life before coming to a Muslim that has been more difficult to separate yourself from.

You should seek scholarly advice on the matters that you are unsure if they are compatible with Islam at first too. It is often thought that reverts must abandon every aspect of their pre-Muslim life, but this is not so. Sometimes new Muslims put themselves under unnecessary pressure to distance themselves from things that they need not. So, please do take advice from someone of knowledge on those which you are uncertain of.

Either way, regardless of which things are compatible with Islam and not, you were raised in a different culture to your husband to be so it is important to anticipate any differences you may have. Since you do not have any children yet this is the perfect time to be discussing these things with your husband once you are married. Let him know which things are important to you in raising children and likewise, give him the chance to say what is important to him too.

In sha Allah, there will be no problems and you can integrate both of your preferences, or at least find a suitable middle-ground compromise. When it comes to matters that you are both firms in yet have differing opinions you can talk about why you both want it this way and if necessary even bring a mutual third party in who would be able to help guide you both to come up with a suitable compromise on the matter.

In your current situation not having children yet gives you the chance to iron these matters out now rather than it becoming an issue once the children are born. If such differences were to arise after their arrival it would be more difficult to make compromises without affecting the children.

The other issue is raising your children in a non-Muslim country. Again, discussing potential difficulties you may face ahead of time with your future spouse will allow you both to be prepared for challenges you might anticipate. This is where you, in particular, will perhaps need to be most sensitive to him as it will be quite a culture shock for him moving from the Middle East to the West so he might not yet be aware of the challenges he may face.

It may also be difficult for him to understand the challenge that you may have faced in adjusting to a new lifestyle in a country that doesn’t practice Islam. This is where it might be good for you both ahead of time to establish yourself in the local Muslim community. This will make it easier for you to adjust as well as for him to have brothers to turn to should he need support. Having established yourselves into the community you will also then be well placed for when you have children. You will be aware of any local Islamic schools if they exist, or if not if there is a local madrassa that the children could attend in the evenings or weekends.

May Allah make this transition to a new stage in your life an easy one. May He make you and your husband be the coolness of your eyes in this life and the next and may He grant you pious children the will grow up to be pillars of the community.


Q:

I am a mother who fears for her child’s upbringing in a western county in addition to the fact that his father does not pray and drinks alcohol, although otherwise, he is a good husband and father. (I knew about these prior to marriage, but my family pressured me to get married because I was over 35.

I knew I will regret it, but I have now accepted my fate and continue praying for my husband to return to the right path of Islam. ) The Islamic community is very small here, therefore I wish to return back to our home country, but my husband refuses to move back. I’m worried that I would be committing a sin if my husband continues to refuse it. My son hardly speaks Arabic, and my husband doesn’t see it a priority to teach him Quran, how to pray, etc. I’m not sure if I can do everything on my own.

A:

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

Raising a child comes with many challenges. Raising a Muslim child in the West comes with many additional challenges on top of the normal parenting issues. On top of this, you have a husband that doesn’t seem to be so well invested in raising his child at the moment.

May Allah guide him away from alcohol and back on to the path of Islam, for his own sake and his children. In sha Allah your prayers will be heard and he will ever sort himself out and be a support to you in raising your child together, but for now, it seems you are very much quite alone in the matter. However, as daunting as that may feel there are many ways in which you can be successful in raising your son to be a righteous young Allah fearing man.

Of course it would be ideal if your husband would support you in your desire to return to your home country to where you could raise your child Islamically with more ease, but for now there are ways you can do your best to make it work where you are now whilst you perhaps continue to keep trying to encourage him in the direction of moving back, or at least to a Muslim country.

The Islamic community locally is small, but you should still do all you can to be a part of that and integrate with them. Take your son along too so that he can also make friends with the local Muslim children too. You could even speak with members of the community about setting up a weekend madrassa if there isn’t one already. Utilize your skills together. If there is someone who is skilled in teaching Arabic then they may offer Arabic classes to the children, or if there is someone skilled in the Qur’an recitation then they may do the same.

Take advantage of the skills between you for the sake of providing some kind of Islamic education to the local Muslim children as well as providing them with the opportunity to make friends with other Muslims in a place where it is otherwise quite difficult to fit in.

You might also link in with other Islamic societies in other towns or cities close by and plan to go there every now and again. It will give you and your son the chance to interact with other Muslims more widely and even get ideas of how to introduce some kind of Islam education system that is being successfully elsewhere.

Additionally, or if the above is not an option then you can look to online classes. There are many online schools now available that teach Arabic, Qur’an and even Islamic studies. The teachers are based around the world. You may find someone locally in the country where you live, or even back home if you prefer your son to be taught by someone in your homeland. Either way, the options are vast. This will take the pressure off your shoulders as you can be comfortable that at least your son can learn everything that you want him to learn even if the option to move back home isn’t available right now.

To support him further, as well as online classes, and local classes of they become available, there are also numerous age-appropriate textbooks that you could order online and work with your son in completing. Perhaps this, in particular, might be something that encourages your husband back on the correct path as he sees you teaching Islam to his child. Likewise, when you go to the local masjid encourage your husband to come with you. This will place him in the company of other brothers who could be a positive influence on him, especially if he comes to befriend them well and spend more time with them as they encourage him to join them in prayer.

May Allah guide your husband on the straight path. May He reward your efforts to raise your son the best you can given the circumstances and may He nurture your son to be an upstanding pillar of the community worthy of the best in this life and the next.


Q:

Please I need your help, how to deal with my 8-year-old daughter who is very highly sensitive because dealing with her becomes very stressful for me. Thank you

A:

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

Having a sensitive child can be a challenge due to the added attention that they require to manage their sensitivity.

Firstly, try and find the positives in the situation. She may be sensitive which can be demanding for you, but people who are sensitive also usually have a very soft and caring nature. Use this to both hers and your advantage by honing in on these qualities in particular. These will be qualities that will serve her well as she gets older too. Qualities that will make it easier for her to show compassion to others and treat them well.

Next, try to identify if there is anything in particular that triggers her moments of sensitivity. Does it happen more frequently when she’s in a certain place? After she’s been involved in a certain activity? Been with a particular person? If it is quite unclear you might keep a journal of her moods over the space of a week and then see if you can identify from this what her possible triggers might be. Once you know what they are you will be able to delay with her sensitive moments more effectively.

For example, if it seems to occur after interactions with a certain person try and uncover why that person makes her feel more sensitive, or if it stems from a certain environment, such as school, try to understand what it is about that environment that is causing sensitivity.

Perhaps she has had a bad experience with that particular person or in that particular place. You may be aware of the background behind it, or you may not. If not, then give her some time to discuss it together.

Let her know that you notice that her behavior changes when she is with such and such a person
or such and such a place and give her an open and comfortable opportunity to open up.

This will also give her the space to express her emotions. Something that she might otherwise be uncomfortable to do. This is a great way to help her develop social and emotional skills in a safe environment with you, the person she feels most safe with.

Perhaps she hasn’t even noticed herself and it is an underlying issue. In which case you could just talk about that place or person freely and see what comes out. This will help you to understand more about what the issue actually is and work with her to find the skills to manage the scenarios that are making her feel so sensitive. For example, if it is a certain place that is causing the sensitivity, then try to work with her to find ways to better manage her emotions when she is in that place. For example, if it is at school, then you might encourage her to talk to her teacher if she is feeling sensitive about a certain matter. This essentially teaches her problem-solving skills that she can begin to initiate herself and build confidence in doing so by herself.

Also, extreme sensitivity can come from overstimulation and being overwhelmed by surroundings. Whilst you can’t be certain at this point if this is the case for your daughter you may come to realize this when you spend time monitoring her moods and when her sensitivity is at its peak. it would be a good idea for you both to have peaceful downtime together. Do something together that is not over stimulating, or mentally challenging. Turn all noise off in the background and do a quiet activity together. Or, if you have somewhere suitable go on a nice quiet walk together away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

In general, as well you must try and keep a strict balance. As a sensitive child, you need to be careful with her emotions and praise her when she does well at something to protect her sensitive nature but, at the same time, it is important to maintain boundaries still. You should be careful not to let things slip and let her get away with things that she otherwise wouldn’t for fear of hurting her feelings. Whilst she is sensitive and this is ok, she also needs to know that there are boundaries that she needs to stick to too.

May Allah guide you and make things easier for you and your daughter. May He make her the coolness of your eyes in this life and the next.


Q:

I’m the mother of a 6-year-old child. My husband refuses to have other children because it is “too stressful” and insists on wearing protection during our intimate relationship. Does he have the right to refuse to have more children? He refuses to speak to a counselor or imam, and refuses to admit that we have a problem in the first place. Thank you for your advice.

A:

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

This is a situation that can bring much stress, whether it is the wife that doesn’t want more children and the husband does, or like in your case, where the wife wants more children but the husband does not. It can place great strain on the marriage. You should consult a scholar regarding if he has the right to refuse to have more children as I cannot advise on this.

Whether he has the right to or not, it is quite apparent that your relationship does have a deeper problem and it would be advised that you do seek counseling for this. However, it would seem that your husband is refusing this which only makes the matter more difficult for you. If you could attend counseling you would be better able to get to the root of the problem so it is very unfortunate that he is refusing to do such. It is also unfortunate that without some kind of intervention your relationship will continue to struggle.

As an alternative might he be willing to talk with another mutual friend or family member? Perhaps the reason he doesn’t want to attend counseling because of the stigma attached to it so to have a friend or family member intervene instead as more of an informal approach he might be more willing. Also, as someone, he knows perhaps he would be more comfortable to open up, especially if it is someone that he is particularly receptive to. Maybe once he starts opening up to talk to someone he might be more open to the idea of going to counseling.

If this is not something you feel he would still not be open to, then you might consider asking someone that you know he will listen to. Maybe this person will be able to find out what his problem is with him.

Regardless of whether he is willing to talk to anyone you should also continue to try and talk to him yourself about this issue. Whilst things are not in a good place it is important to be careful about how you approach it. You might be feeling frustrated and resentful towards him because he is denying you children but you must try and approach him in a way that doesn’t reflect this otherwise you will have a hard time talking to him calmly about it and he will not likely respond to you kindly either.

Approach him at a time when things are calm and he is in a good mood and even makes the mood a positive one by doing something nice together and therefore setting an ideal environment for a deep and meaningful conversation.

Use this time to discuss with him what it is that he would find stressful about having another child. If you can find out what it is then you could address the issue together and find ways to overcome the cause of stress for him.

It may be that his reasoning is the financial implications for him and as a man he feels responsible for you and any children you have and the thought of not being able to provide sufficiently for you all bring him stress. If this is the case then maybe this is why he is unwilling to talk to a counselor or imam about it as perhaps he feels a sense of shame that he couldn’t provide as he would like to and therefore can’t give you what you want.

This may not be what is going through his mind, maybe there is another plausible explanation for his reasoning, but if you can find out from him, or even contemplate some sensible reasoning as to why he might be responding in this way then you might be better able to approach him in looking for solutions that you could work towards together to satisfy both your needs and improve your relationship. For example, if it turns out to be a financial issue then you could discuss budgeting together to make sure that having another child would not be the financial burden that he might be anticipating.

If he is completely closed to talking to anyone else about it and even yourself even when things are pleasant between you then you can try fixing relations between you generally without talking about the issue of having more children yet until he has reached a place where you can address it with him. Rewind mentally to a time when things were good between you and try to recreate that same space again.

If you have a friend or family member who could take care of your child for an evening so you 2 can enjoy doing something together as a couple. What things did you use to do together before? Do the same together again and reignite the spark that is missing now and build things up again from here. Try and make this a regular thing. Something to look forward to. Dress up nice and complement each other, talk about old times and fun times you’ve had together and create new and fresh memories together.

If you feel comfortable at any point to talk to him about the present issue if he has still not changed his stance on the matter then you can be open with him about how much it is hurting you, that naturally as a woman you desire to have more children and it is very painful for you to be denied this right. Perhaps he is not aware of just how much it is affecting you.

May Allah grant you ease during this trial and may He guide your husband to be more cooperative with you on the matter. May He place love and contentment between your hearts that allows you to work through this difficulty successfully.