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.

The answer will be online very soon

Feel free to send your questions to [email protected]

Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020 | 12:00 - 13:00 Makkah | 09:00 - 10:00 GMT

Session is over.

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Question - About Islam

Q:

How can I raise my son in an Islamic way given that his father (my husband) is not a practicing Muslim? (He drinks alcohol and doesn’t pray.) Islamic teaching to our son doesn’t seem to be a priority to him.

We both work and I’m financially independent. My son spends most of his days in a non-Muslim nursery. I know my son is still young (2 years old), but I don’t want to leave this issue until it all becomes too late. Your help is much appreciated.

A:

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

Masha Allah, 2 may seem young, but it is definitely the best time to get started and you are right to tackle the issue before it gets too late. Small children are very receptive to the world around them and 2 years old is a great time to start the process of Islamic education. There a few things you can do at this stage to start Islamic education with him.

It is unfortunate that your husband is not being a good role model to him, especially as your son will be more likely to emulate his own behavior as a fellow male. However, this does not stop you from instilling Islamic knowledge in him at this stage.

Obviously, at this age, there is little that you can teach him, but the little you can teach him will provide the foundations for his future learning. Make sure to practice Islam openly around the home, praying, reading Qur’an, making du’a. Etc..

Let him see and hear you doing these things. You don’t even necessarily have to be directly teaching him anything as you will be surprised at just how much he is picking up and before you know you will find him repeating short duas or ayats along with you or while he plays. You will likely even find he will stand beside you and follow the movements of prayer too.

Additionally, if you get time to go to the masjid anytime take your son with you. Let him play with other Muslim children. This will be especially beneficial to him since he spends most of his time with non-Muslims in his nursery.

Sometimes as children grow up in such environments it can feel quite unusual to be different to others and cause some kind of inner conflict, so to have Muslim friends too will help strike a balance and bring him that comfort. If you meet other mum’s with toddlers of similar age you could arrange regular get-togethers too.

Now, whilst it’s all very well saying that you can be teaching you son these things, it is also incredibly important for so many reasons that your husband also changes his ways, for the sake of his son, for the sake of his marriage and for the sake of his own Deen too.

It’s a shame that he doesn’t see Islamic teaching as a priority to him, but perhaps you could put it to him in this way – if he doesn’t feel its necessary to teach his child, you could challenge him directly on his own attitude to Islam separate to the issue of educating your son.

Let him know your concerns. Drinking alcohol is Haram and he will be asked about his prayer and the day of judgment. That alone should be of grave concern to him.

If you do not feel he will be receptive to this warning directly from you, or you feel it may cause difficulties in your marriage then you can go about it more indirectly. If there is anyone close to him that you know he may respond to better such as a friend or family member then you might approach them in the correct way, via their spouse or something if necessary, and ask them to talk to him about the issue directly instead.

If this might even be a bit too direct and you feel he wouldn’t even respond to this then you could try a much less direct approach. If there are any sisters in your local community who you know have good practicing husbands you might consider inviting them over for dinner some time.

This will give your husband the chance to interact with practicing Muslims who will encourage him on the Deen and steer him away from drinking alcohol. This is a more natural way to encourage him back onto the straight path by bringing it directly to him yourself or via someone else.

Of course, on top of this do continue to make du’a for him and practice openly in front of him. Perhaps his heart will soften and he will naturally feel inclined to join you sometime.

May Allah reward your struggle to raise your son on the straight path. May Allah make him a child who will grow to be the coolness of your eyes in this life and the next.


Q:

As salamu `alaykum, I am a married woman and a mother of 3 wonderful kids. When I was in my early 20s, I got married to someone my parents chose for me, who used to beat me every day. When I was pregnant, I went to my parent’s house, as my husband said that this child was not his.

During my entire pregnancy, he never came to see me. Once the child was born, he came to see him and said that he didn’t want to do anything with him. When my son was 7 months old he divorced me. I got married again two years later to my current husband, who is a wonderful man. He is divorced too, and has a son from his previous marriage.

At the time of our marriage to each other, his son was 3 1/2 and my son was 2 years old. My husband is a great guy. He treats my son like his own (my son doesn’t know who his real father is and the same goes for his son who doesn’t remember his real mother, and he calls me mother).

Everything is great masha Allah in my life. My stepson has ADHD (Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder) I have to be very patient with him. My real question is what are rights as a stepmother? I mean I don’t know how to behave with him.

Allah will punish me if, I hit him because he is not my real son. I’m very confused as to what my behavior should be. My mother told me not to say anything to him as he is not my real son. I should control myself even if he behaves badly. I want to discipline all my kids, but I don’t know how to do it with him as he is not my real son. I can’t punish him because I’m scared that Allah will punish me. help me please as I’m very disturbed. My stepson is now almost 7.

A:

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

Masha Allah, this is wonderful to hear that you have found happiness in your marriage and despite both having children from you previous marriages you have both been able to take on each other’s children and raise them as your own.

The difficulty you are facing is how to manage the behavior of your stepson and are not sure where to draw the line in terms of disciplining him.

The first thing I would suggest is to get some scholarly advice regarding both yours and his rights in this situation. This might not lead to any conclusions regarding how you should treat him or manage his behavior, but it is useful to know anyway.

Regarding how to behave with your stepson your mother was right to advise you not to hit him, not because he is not your own biological child, but simply because you shouldn’t hit him anyway, just as you should not hit any other child, including your own biological child.

The only instance where gentle physical admonishment is allowed in Islam is when a child aged 10 and older does not pray and if in your stepson’s case he may be exempt from this due to his condition (but again, this is something you should check with someone of knowledge).

There are many other ways to discipline a child that do not require hitting or any physical contact even. This is good for you because it means you do not necessarily need to treat your children any differently regardless of whether they are your biological child or not. It is also useful because what will effectively discipline one child will not necessarily work with another.

This way you can tailor the method of discipline you use to match the child that needs discipline. For example, a commonly cited technique is to withdraw items that the child likes to play with for a set amount of time until they correct their behavior. This will obviously differ from child to child depending on their preferences and therefore can would be different for each child.

On the other hand, a great way to deter bad behavior is to ignore bad behavior and not give it any attention (as much as is possible) and instead place much emphasis on their positive behaviors. This works particularly well in the case where a child is acting out for no reason but to get the attention of those around them.

In this case, instead of reprimanding bad behavior, it is not giving them any attention for it and therefore they are not receiving any type of ‘reward’ for their bad behavior.

By acknowledging bad behavior in the form of giving attention and even punishment you can in actual fact but just reinforcing that behavior even more as you are giving them time and attention for the wrong reasons.

By only acknowledging and rewarding good behavior you do the opposite by encouraging them to repeat good behavior and abandon behavior that doesn’t get them any attention or ‘reward’.

This technique may not always work and sometimes discipline in the form of removing luxuries is necessary, but you may find it a technique that is particularly useful for your stepson with ADHD, but with a bit of trial and error, you will come to see which techniques are most effective for him, and indeed your own biological son.

Either way, regardless of the fact that one is your biological son and the other is not, it is important that you are fair and just between them. If you are not and show obvious favoritism towards one over the other this could lead to animosity between the 2 of them and could cause even more problem behavior due to the rivalry between them and their quest to get your attention in the wrong way.

Another thing to take into account is that your stepsons ADHD brings in additional needs that need managing in different ways to a child without ADHD.

 

Often seeming misbehavior from a child with ADHD is simply a result of their condition rather than genuinely misbehaving for reasons that other children might.

You might look into support groups for parents with children of ADHD to get further tips on how to manage his behavior based on the experiences of other parents of children with the condition.

May Allah reward your efforts to raise a good family. May He guide you on your path with them and guide them to what is good. May He bring happiness and success to your family in this life and the next.


Q:

As-salamu `alaykum.

 What’s your advice to parents with teenagers who self-injure themselves? I am a parent with no financial resources available for counseling, but I want to help my teenager with all this deep anger, depression, and pain?

A:

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

Raising teens comes with many challenges as much as any other time in a child’s life growing up. During the teen years, self-harm is a problem that can be quite common and also very distressing to the parents. It would be ideal in such cases to support your teen in seeking counseling so they can receive professional support for their situation, but in your case, this comes with the extra challenge of financial constraints.

All is not lost here however as there may be options for free, or reduced-cost services than may be useful to you, otherwise you can also provide this additional support yourself under the right guidance.

Depending on your location on the globe you may find that there are such services available for free via you local health and/or social services in the country in which you reside. Do make sure to look into this as a first option by asking at your local medical practice who should be able to advise you of the same, or at least where to turn to.

If nothing like this is available then there are also voluntary services available in many countries also. Perhaps your local medical practice could advise you of the same, or otherwise a search online may reveal such.

Depending on how tight your financial resources are you may find some affordable services online, some may be offered for free, others for a small charge and others that may assess your financial situation to determine an affordable rate depending on your circumstances. There are quite a few sources available like this online that can offer a service in line with Islamic values and can offer via email, or voice/video call.

Another resource to look into is your local masjid. Perhaps your local imam would be able to offer such support or at least be able to direct you to a useful source or even fund counseling itself. Also, perhaps you have family members who your teen has a good relationship with who they may be more willing and comfortable to open up to that you could approach with them, even if to have an informal chat and show their support and a listening ear.

In addition to this, or otherwise if you cannot find any way to get support for your teen then there are steps you can take to support them too.

When trying to help someone through times of distress it is always helpful to understand the cause of their distress. This will help you to help them more effectively as you can support them specifically with the cause of their problems.

If you know the cause of your teens distress then you might start here with them. Give them the space to open up about what happened without feeling like you might get angry with them, or judge them or give them unwanted advice. If you are unaware of the cause, then think about what it could be by identifying when their behavior started.

What happened at this time in their life? What change? This might help to identify the cause. Or, if you feel comfortable to ask, then this is a direct way to uncover the cause.

You might begin first by developing a trusting relationship with your teen that they feel comfortable to open up to you. This may take a little time, but if you continue to be open to them to then when they feel comfortable to they will turn to you. Perhaps at the most unexpected of times. Sometimes just to know that they have a supportive ear who is ready to hear their problems is enough to relieve the distress, even if just a little.

Once you have reached the point where you have been able to talk openly about the matter you can help your teen to find alternative ways to manage their distress that doesn’t involve harming themselves.

If your teen is talking to you openly at this point this is something that you can talk openly about. Alternatively, if they are still not opening up to you by this point and/or you not found alternative sources of support you can also intervene less directly.

Self-harm is often turned to as a means to take control of pain when they otherwise feel they have no other means. That is, they have no control over the situation that did or is causing them pain. To overcome this you encourage them to do other more useful things that keep them busy, but also in control of their lives.

Does your teen have a hobby? Or something they always wanted to do? If so, support them in doing this, or starting something new and encourage them to do the same. It will also provide opportunities to link in with other people and develop friendships that can provide social support that can buffer against mental health problems.

Once they get a bit of control back in their life they can begin to apply this to control their emotions and responses to their emotions and explore alternative and more effective ways to manage these like they have been doing in the other activities in their life.

May Allah reward your struggles to support your teen and may He continue to give you the strength to do so. May he bring your teen ease and support out of the dark place that they are currently in.


Q

My mom is divorced from my father. I was sad at first when he moved out, but now I feel my life would be miserable if they stay together. For some kids, it is really hard on them. It was hard on me as well, but when I look back on how my life would be now if they wouldn’t have divorced…I don’t like it.

The older the kids, the harder it is on them. But we have to think also about whether the parents are happy. We should consider their feelings, too. Am I right?!

A:

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

When parents get divorced it is hard on the children whatever age they are, however, the challenges presented are quite different for younger and older children. Also, younger and older children will use different methods to manage the distress they face as a result of the divorce.

On top of this, these circumstances surrounding the divorce and the amount of support provided by the extended family will have an impact on how well the children manage regardless of their age. For older children, they have more of an understanding of what divorce is so maybe effected more psychologically and may have more of a role to play in supporting younger siblings through difficulties.

However, at older age children have better emotion regulation skills to be able to manage their feelings and behaviors more appropriately and effectively.

Young children may be less effected in that they don’t understand what is going on as such, which is likely a good thing as they may not have yet developed the skills to manage their emotions as a result. However, it may be that this lack of ability will manifest later in life in other ways such as difficulties in maintaining healthy relationships with others.

As for the parents, sometimes marriages just don’t work out and divorce is the only solution. Some couples choose to stay together for the sake of their children but don’t realize that it is having the opposite effect on them.

Instead, it reinforces to the children that an unhappy marriage is how a marriage is supposed to be which only leads the children to then go on and endure unhappy marriages also.

On the other, some times it can work out and may even what forces them back together again as they overcome what was actually just a difficult phase in the marriage and staying together for the sake of the children actually served to heal their marriage.

This is not always the case, but shows how different circumstances and different choices in the marriage can have different effects on both the parents themselves and the children.

Ultimately, when parents consider a divorce they must consider realistically what is the best option to take and should do all they can do fix their marriage before pursuing divorce (except in the case where either has the genuine case to seek divorce without taking this route such as cases of domestic abuse.)

Part of this consideration has to be what is best for the children and they must understand that staying together for the sake of the children is not always helpful for them, or the children.

As you have witnessed for yourself, you feel that if your parents had stayed together, you feel it would have lead to your own unhappiness so it would seem that their own choice to divorce was good for you as children as well as for them.

The thought of how it might affect your children was probably very hard on them, perhaps they even delayed their divorce to try and make things work out for the sake of making things easier for your children.

So, as you can see, yes, you should certainly care about the feelings of your parents, but they also need to care about your own as their children too.

When it comes to marriage and divorce it is necessary to consider the feelings of all affected but ultimately the couple themselves should be the ones to make the decision without the interference of anyone else and their decision should be supported.

May Allah bring happiness and contentment to your family regardless of your circumstances and may you find comfort in His remembrance.


Q:

Assalamu Alaikkum. I have a daughter who is twenty. Recently she met a Muslim man, but of a different nationality, who is a little older than her father.

She has known him for about six months now and plans to marry him, much to my disappointment. My husband and I have tried our best to dissuade her from carrying out her pledge to be committed to that man.

However, she finds him to be a very caring, humble and kind person with such good qualities in his character that she feels younger men would never possess. I have tried explaining to her that such a wide age gap between the two of them could lead to marital problems later on in life, but she is still stubborn in wanting to marry that man.

Her mind is made up with regards to her choice of a life partner, despite his much older age.I am truly saddened she insists on marrying him and this matter has caused conflict in my family.

Please advise me on how to make my daughter understand this is not a wise decision for her.

A:

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,

As her parents naturally you only want what is best for your daughter. In the case of marriage, you want to know that she is leaving the family home to marry someone who will take care of her well in your absence. The thought of her marrying a much older man is concerning to you and you have tried to advise her against it, to no avail as yet.

In approaching her about this you should do so cautiously as the way you talk to her about it may push her towards it more and away from listening to and respecting your opinion. As it stands, she is not being responsive to your explanations as to why you are trying to deter her from this marriage so you might try approaching the situation in a different manner.

Firstly, it is always useful to try and see things from her perspective to begin with. Understand that as they say, ‘age is nothing but a number’.

Islamically, the age of a potential suitor is not the most important thing. Of the man in question is a good, pious, practicing man who is as caring as she says he is then regardless of his age you can be comfortable that she is going to a good home where she will be looked after well. Perhaps a younger man her own age may not be able to give her this as she has suggested and perhaps this may be true.

Perhaps you might consider meeting this man yourselves and get to know him to know yourselves whether he really is a man of good character. You may find that he is a very likable man of good character and piety that actually you could be comfortable allowing your daughter to marry.

Even if you eventually still disagree at least you are showing your daughter the support she needs by at least giving her and him and chance. This way, even if you still disagree with the marriage you are in a stronger position to object as you have met the man and gotten to know him as well as supporting her with her own choice of spouse.

You will also be in a better place to offer her reasons for why you don’t think he is the best choice because you will have gotten to know him.

If it is that the man is actually a decent man and you come to agree to her marriage then you should be prepared to support her against any extended family members who may still give her a hard time. Also, keep in mind how their opinions may be influencing your own.

Going to meet him yourself will allow you to leave these judgments aside and form your own based on his own actual character than the simple statistic of his age.

Keep in mind that at the age of 20 it is only natural that she should want to get married and if you are objecting to her choice and are still objectionable to it then you should be prepared to help and support her in finding an alternative match.

Again, this is something you must do with the utmost sensitivity. Be clear about what it is about the man she wishes to marry that you feel will not be good for her, that you are only concerned that she marry someone who will take good care of her.

You are not objecting just to go against her wishes, but there are genuine reasons you have against the marriage that you are objecting and it is only because you love her and want what is best for her.

You should also make istikhara on this very important matter once you all make a decision in moving forward. Encourage her to do the same too and be content with whatever the outcome is.

May Allah guide her to what will be best for her and grant her a spouse that will be the coolness of hers, as well as your eyes in this life and the next.