Parenting Difficulties in Ramadan – Live Session

Dear Brother/Sisters,

Salam Alaikum. I cannot convince my teenage child to do anything. She is on her phone the whole day, she ignores us, and now that it is Ramadan and she fasts – or at least that is what we believe, I am not sure what she does in her room the whole day- she has been so grumpy. Do you have any tips?

Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

Unfortunately, this is quite a common problem with teens these days! Unfortunately, many parents are also fine to just let their children continue to behave like this too. Alhamdulilah that

The first thing I would suggest is approaching her in a gentle manner about it. It may feel tempting to come across more directly about it, asking what she’s doing in her phone, or telling her to come out of her room. However, if there is no interesting alternative for her then she may not be happy to do so, or it may even encourage her to retreat back to her room again. Instead, encourage her out of her room less directly by encouraging her to something that will appeal to her.

You might do this by inviting her to, for example, join you to prepare iftar,something that will also be useful to her growing up and will engage her with you together on a task towards the same goal. It’s also a task that might encourage conversation too which can be helpful in taking her away from her phone.

You might ask her earlier in the afternoon even what she would like to eat in the evening and both of you go shopping together or even give the responsibility to her to show your trust for her and give her the chance to develop these important skills. This type of approach will encourage her away from a life locked up in her room on her phone by giving the other opportunities that might be of interest to her.

What you might also do, just to be sure of her mental state is just check in on how she’s doing generally. Sometimes this type of behaviour might indicate that she is going through some difficulties. This may not be the case as it seems to be quite normal behaviour for teens these days, but in occasions it can be an indication that something is up. You know your child to know if it’s something that you would be able to directly address her about, otherwise, engaging with her in activities such as the above will place her in a safe space to open up if you should casually enquire, or otherwise just get a general sense of how she is feeling. In sha Allah, there is no problem and she is just engaging in what has become quite a norm amoungst this age group.

As you eventually encourage her out of her room for a bit each day this may then be the opportunity to set some boundaries together as a team. When comfortable you could let her know that you’re not comfortable with her staying her room on her phone all day and that you are concerned for her wellbeing and would like to spend more time with her.

You could come up with some agreement regarding when you have time together as a family and how many hours are acceptable for her to spend on her phone each day. It could even be done in a graded manner whereby she might take the first step by staying in family areas on her phone for a while before then reducing her time bit by bit too.

This is something you can come to an agreement about together so that she is a part of the process and making decisions responsibly. This way she is more likely to stick to the changes and benefit from them.

May Allah make it easy for you both and strengthen your ties as a family.

Salam,

******

In our country, the government just re-opened the schools, but my daughter who is 10 years old does not want to go. She is afraid, and any time I try telling her she needs to go, it is OK, she freaks out. Pandemic panic, what can I do with her? We are also concerned but what to do when the government has opened everything? I do not want her to miss out a lot, she has been quite depressed at home alone lately. 

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

The impact of Covid on the mental health has been incredible, especially amongst the youth. As a result, your daughters response is really quite rational. For so long we have been forced to stay at home and socially isolate and get used to a life with little social contact.

This can make it very difficult to integrate back into society. This is made especially difficult when we see all the scary stories in the news of illness and death as a result of Covid. Therefore her response is quite proportionate to the situation. On top of that, as a child, she doesn’t yet have the skills to deal with moments like this. Due to this, she, like many other youngsters, will require alot of support as things get back to as normal as possible at this time.

Fortunately, due to the situation and the known impact on mental health for children many measures have been made to provide this needed support. You might reach out to the school and ask if they have a school psychologisy who is working with them to support the children at this time. They almost certainly should have one, or at least know where to direct you. The psychologist will be specially trained in dealing with situations exactly like your daughters and will be able to support you both moving forward along with the school.

Additionally, you can reach out to the school to let them know the situation too. They will already be accustomed to this kind of scenario and possibly have measures in place to support those who are struggling most at this time. It might feel like a scary thing to do, but the teachers are well aware of the impact that has been had on young children and will be able to work with you to make things easier for your daughter.

It may be that her introduction back to school is more gradual and that they are able to send her work home so that she doesn’t fall behind her peers. This will give her the chance to gradually get used to being back in school again and realise that it is not so scary after all as she gets used to slightly new routines regarding hygiene and social distancing.

Another way you can support her at home is to educate her on the situation and why things are a little different right now and that is why you have to do things differently for now and that’s it’s not a bad thing, but it is to keep you all safe and in sha Allah it will soon pass.

May Allah make it easy for you both and ease her worries. May He make her integration back into school a success and reward your efforts to support her in doing so.

Since my children are at home, the relationship between them has worsened. They are two boys, one is 18, the other one is 15. They always fight or just ignore each other. Can you advise?

***

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

The covid situation has been responsible for many additional difficulties faced by families. One of these difficulties regards Strains on relationships as people are forced to spend more time with one another due to lockdown restrictions.

As a result, whilst this may have resulted in some benefits of being able to spend more time together, the lack of space and freedom has also caused less favourable outcomes. What your children are going through is a common response to the situation that in sha Allah with a little gentle intervention can be eased as to not cause lasting damage in the relationship between them.

There are 2 approaches that you can use simultaneously that involve quite opposite approaches.

First of all, people need their space. Covid has made this more tricky, but it is still possible to facilitate this within the home. Do allow them to have their own space within the home and disconnect from things for a short time to give them that space.

Allow them the chance to do things separately that they enjoy doing alone to focus on themselves. It may be doing things that you wouldn’t usually support and may involve them being onlone or playing games more than you’d like, but given the situation, this may be their only way to get that sence of freedom and distance from the restrictions of Covid.

Of course, this is something that needs to be done within boundaries so that they don’t get too used to this kind of lifestyle so do set mutually agreeable time limits and so on. As restrictions are eased, encourage them to get back out a bit within the limits of the restrictions, even if it is just to go for a walk.

On the other, you may also encourage them to engage in mutual tasks together to encourage a healthy bond between them. Perhaps set a task that they can work on together toward the same goal. This way, they have to work together to get the task done more effectively. It’ll give them a healthy space to bond and interact with a specific purpose and therefore leaves little room for potential dispute.

Although, you may wish to be close by in case some direction is needed in the case things don’t go to plan. This sort of task may in the form of some kind of practical work in the house that they may enjoy, or otherwise some kind of hobby that they either do together, or that you do as a family.

In sha Allah as restrictions are eased and they are able to get back to the things they used to do the pressure will be eased and their relationship will be restored. However, do also realise that it wouldn’t be too uncommon for siblings to have these types of disputes on a normal day even without the covid situation. As a parent you can just keep an eye on the situation to make sure it doesn’t go outside of these normal boundaries and continue to support them in nurturing their relationship.

May Allah reward your concern for your children and bring peace between them. May He strengthen the bonds between them and between you all and make each other the coolness of each others eyes in this life and the next.

***

I wish to teach my children, one boy and one girl, how to cook and clean the house. Especially in Ramadan, doing everything alone is tiring. However, thay are so not motivated. I told them it is not about motivation: these are things they will need to do alone once they grow up, plus they would help me a lot. They stil do not care. Any advice? They are 11 and 13 years old. Thank you. 

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

Masha Allah, this is very important and you are right to start encouraging this helping behaviour and this age. Sometimes it can be a struggle at the start as you are facing, but in sha Allah, in time they will get used to it and come to see it as a necessity and perhaps even come to enjoy it somewhat too.

There are a number of ways to approach this to support you in get their involvement.

Firstly, as you mention, it’s hard work for you and you are tired. Let them know this. As your children, they love you and wouldn’t like to see you suffering and this might help to encourage them a bit solely for the sake of helping you even if they are not keen on actually doing any work.

Another thing to do is to involve them in planning. Sit down together as a family and write down all the tasks that need doing each day and allow them to pick which ones they would prefer to do. Switch things up each day so everyone gets a chance to do some thing different. By involving them in the process from the start and giving them an element of control, they are more likely to engage without fuss.

You might even encourage them to draw up a chart themselves and put it somewhere that they can all see and tick of each task as it gets done each day so that they can see their achievements. Perhaps within the week you might give them each a day off. Allow them to pick which day they want, again as a means to give them that sense of control and responsibility. You might also consider allow them to assign what time of day they prefer to to the tasks too.

You can begin by ensuring that the available tasks are smaller to begin with to get them used to helping out before gradually moving on to the more heavy chores as they get older. This way they will not feel so burdened as the tasks set are managable.

When they do help out and especially when they do a good job, give them some praise so that they feel appreciated and good for what they are doing. This will encourage they to continue helping out. However, do be cautious not to be over praising or rewarding as they may come to always expect a reward and see the housework as something only contingent in reward and they may then stop helping out if they stop getting praise.

As you say, they do need to see this as a part of life and something that needs to be done which naturally as they grow up they would not receive rewards for doing these tasks as they are a necessity but a bit of verbal praise here and there in the early days will help to keep them motivated.

With regards to cooking, this can be a little different. Cleaning can be quite a chore and is difficult to make fun, but with cooking the task can be made more enjoyable. This is something that you can all do together and they can help with picking the food that will be prepared and enjoy the fruit of their labour by eating the tasty food that they prepare.

You might give them a meal each week that they pick each based on what they like and this way they have an interest from the start and something to prepare for a loon forward to each week. Let them write down the recipe and take charge of directing everyone when preparing that particular meal.

May Allah reward your efforts to raise good, dutiful children. May He make the task an easy one for you.

Monday, Apr. 26, 2021 | 09:30 - 10:30 GMT

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