15 Seasoned Parents Offer Advice on Keeping Our Children on the Deen | SoundVision.com

15 Seasoned Parents Offer Advice on Keeping Our Children on the Deen

"How can I keep my kids on the Straight Path?" This question weighs heavily on the minds of American Muslim parents. In a world filled with challenges, from the pressures to be popular and wealthy to the increasing shift away from religion in the West, parents are understandably concerned about preserving their children’s religious identity. Despite these challenges, we are not alone in our worries. Many parents face the same concerns; even the prophets and pious individuals before us experienced similar anxieties. 

The Quran and Sunnah provide us with timeless guidance as we navigate the pleasures and perils of parenting. Additionally, the wisdom of seasoned parents who have successfully raised children in adherence to the Deen can be invaluable. I contacted Muslim parents of adult children from across the country to gather their insights. Here are fifteen pieces of advice they shared on how to help children stay committed to their faith:

1. Build a relationship with your children so they trust and value your advice. 

Spend time with them and explore their interests. Model what is important for you, expose them to people and situations that are in line with Islamic principles and encourage their friendships with others who are on the Deen. Ideally, having an older sibling or mentor is also really valuable though not always possible. You, as the parent, will have to adjust as they get older and need devices for schoolwork but eliminate/reduce/manage screen time when they are young. Also, know what is out there. Stay up-to-date with social media, pop culture (to some extent) so you know what things are when/if your kids mention them and so you can steer them away as needed. Social media and internet safety are necessary for parents and kids. Social media has been particularly damaging to kids these days and we need to know how to use it wisely. (Zuhaira Razzack, Houston, TX)

2. Rethink giving your children smartphones. 

If they need to use a device with a screen, they should use it in a public part of the house, meaning no devices in bedrooms or any secluded areas. It may sound extreme, but I am telling you, these things are raising children these days – there is no other way to slice it. All of this can be done lovingly and in a way that the kids appreciate and not hate you for it. Keep them busy in a productive way and they will not even think they are missing out on anything. I am speaking from experience, and Allah knows best. I would add praying for their guidance in tahajjud [night prayers] (along with action). I have heard so many successful parents cite that practice and attribute their children’s piety to it, mashaAllah. May Allah grant us all that level of piety. Ameen. (Ustadh  Adrian Ashir Kirk, Memphis, TN)

3. Talk to them, spend time with them, pray with them, get to know their friends (very, very important) and their parents, and interact/engage with them. 

Know who their friends are! (Chaplain Reche (Tariq) Abdul-Haqq, Duluth, GA)

4. Parents must help their children build a relationship with the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, his Seerah, hardships, sacrifices, etc

Once they admire and love him for themselves, it really keeps them strong in their faith. You should also help them navigate mistakes and failures. Teach them how to ask God for forgiveness, how to feel His mercy, and know there is always a chance to turn to Him. Parents can model this as well and that is a huge factor in them embodying this. Also, I feel like showing them your reliance on God, your own tawakkul [trust in Allah], your own struggle and how you use your faith to get through can have a profound impact. (Sadia Jalali, Houston, TX)

5. From my experience in the community and as a parent, one important lesson when it comes to children is not to talk “at them.” 

By the time children become teens they want to be leaders. Empower them in their Deen; if they have questions, let them ask – and then either find the answer together or encourage them to seek the answer for themselves and let them teach you what they found. Empower them to be the “leading Muslim in their own lives” because no one else can make them do it; it is their responsibility. And of course, parents must lead by example. We all make mistakes, but the important thing is how we navigate, overcome and work through those mistakes. I think placing pressure on children to reach an unrealistic perfection is not only unhealthy, but traumatizing. Parents make mistakes, too, and I think acknowledging that with our children is equally important. (Heather Elsayed, Houston, TX)

6. My advice would be to keep the lines of communication open. 

Ask questions – even the hard questions. Remind your children why we are here. Show them examples in your life and theirs, how Allah is All-Knowing, All-Seeing. Give them halal alternatives to the haram. Let them choose the lesser evil. Have them choose good friends, not those who force them to do things they don't want to, not those who have conditions for their friendship unless it is to better you. Remind them Allah is All-Forgiving, but we have to ask for forgiveness. Do good, be truthful. If you do not like something about yourself or others, then ask Allah to change it for the better. Always apologize to one another about what happened (during a disagreement) and why – how could we have handled to situation better. Say Astaghfirallah [Allah forgive me] often. Ask Allah for guidance and to stay on the Straight Path. Spend time with them. If you cannot chaperone them, have a trusted adult do so. The teenage years are when we should be around them more, not let them go unattended. That is the best advice I can give at this point in time. Anything good I said is from Allah. Anything bad I said is from myself or Shaytaan. (Umm Hady, Paterson, NJ)

7. One thing I feel has kept all five (3 boys, 2 girls), ages ranging from 19-40 years old, in the Deen is consistency from the parents. 

They must see the parents practice what they preach outside the home, at the masjid, and most importantly in the home. They watch us and learn from us. Are we implementing what Allah and His messenger say when problems arise? Also, I believe when your children act and do things that are not in line with your household rules and values, there must be consequences. Parents must talk to them and teach them the consequences of their actions. More importantly, support your children in the Deen and in their goals in life. If they do not have goals, guide them toward goals that you think will be good for them. Everything cannot be a NO or “That’s haram!” Give them options on their choices and encourage them. We kept all five of our children close to home for college. We know what goes on at these campuses, so we let them choose schools close to home for their protection of the Deen. They could always come home to pray; there was no excuse that there was no place. We asked daily, have you prayed? This was throughout their schooling years. We have a musalla [separate prayer space] in the house and we call everyone together to pray except for the prayers when the menfolk would go to the masjid. When the children were young, we all ate dinner together. Not so much now that everyone is older and on different schedules. We provided them with everything we felt they needed to be successful in this life and the next, morally, spiritually and financially. Alhamdulilah, four out of five have bachelor’s degrees, one has a graduate degree, and the last is now a sophomore in college. I pray Allah continues to bless my children, my grandchildren, and all the generations of my children, to be Muslim and to die in the state of Islam as Muslims. Ameen. (Lisa Foster Cason, Baltimore, MD)

8. Do your best and keep your kids in your daily prayers. 

Understand your kids will make mistakes, they are human, and they may not be at your level of understanding of Islam. They have to make mistakes to learn important lessons. Your main job is not to criticize everything they do but to make sure they know that when they make a mistake, they can come to you for advice, and you will not lose it. (Ustadha Amina Rodriguez, Atlanta, GA)

9. It honestly starts before they are teens. Always pray together as a family and eat together as a family. (Jose Acevedo, Chicago, IL)

10. I helped raise my much younger brother. My approach had two main pillars: (1) Sharing and modeling the inspirational nature of Islam, and (2) Creating a space in our daily conversations for questions about any and everything in the universe. 

The 2nd one would actually be the “first” thing, because that is what allowed my brother to really ‘take’ to me as an older figure of guidance (in lieu of my parents). Our conversations were WILD. One time he sat down next to me as I was biting into a croissant and asked me “What is time?” It was not about having all the answers, it was about wondering together and taking those trips of the mind together. Even growing together albeit in different ways. Parents now often say they make themselves available to their kids as nonjudgmental confidantes, but how do they walk this talk? For me, it was by showing my brother the limits of my understanding just as much as the broadness of my understanding about this life. It is an indirect thing with respect to keeping a child on the Deen, but this was the foundation for everything else, and that naturally opened up space for me to model and share the inspirational nature of Islam. My brother saw how Islam still guided me even when I felt in the dark about the nature of a situation or why something was happening. He saw how my faith transcends the things that my human mind thinks it knows— how my faith wasn’t contingent upon that, and how, in fact, Islam not only kept me afloat but propelled me no matter what. So, when he would run into issues in his own life, he accepted the inevitability of them, and he never let them define his relationship with Allah. (Sherry Ahmed, Charlotte, NC)

11. I have two adult children and they follow the Deen. Some tips that worked for us were that every success in life they got, we referred it to Allah from childhood. 

For example, if they got an A grade, we would say “Allah made it possible,” all thanks are to Allah. After meals, we would remind them to say “Alhamdulillah.” We, as parents, tried to sit with them and listen to American Muslim preachers, like Yousef Estes, Nouman Ali Khan, Baba Ali, and Malcom X. We introduced them to and taught them to love American Muslim role models like Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Ibtihaj Mohammed, etc. (Rosi Nad, West Springfield, VA)

12. Alhamdulilah, I have three grown kids that I can be proud of. My advice is to:

  • Sit down with yourself and decide what is your goal with your children, as this is going to affect all your decisions as time progresses.
  • Be honest with yourself and ask yourself if your goal is the Dunya or Akhira.
  • Read through the Quran with meaning and see how Allah defines success.
  • Once you are clear and sure then you are ready to devise the plan to bring up your children.

According to the Sunnah, we need to focus on the following:

  • Developing a bond and loving relationship with our children. That means giving them time.
  • Be careful about their role models, friends, and the environment we keep them in.
  • Make sure they stay attached to the Quran and know our real role model, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. 

For the latter, find them loving Quran teachers and bring the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, into your lives. Let him just be a part of your lives and use his examples to make your decisions. There will be many times that you will have to make decisions that will make you feel that your children will be left behind in worldly matters. It is then we need to have tawakkul and remember who the real owner of the world is. InshaAllah [God willing] you will have strong, successful children. (Sanober Yacoob, Sterling, VA)

13. When my sons were babies, I used to read all the surahs to them while feeding them, and when they went to bed. 

I put Islamic lectures on while they were kids, and could hardly understand anything, but just so they could get used to listening to them. I would supplicate for them during prayers and otherwise. I kept the atmosphere of the house totally religious and Islamic (no music, wearing hijab myself, praying in front of them, taking them to the masjid, fasting regularly during Ramadan, and other holy days during the year, doing tasbeeh and dhikr most of the time, etc.). We have to lead by example because children follow in their parents' footsteps. Alhamdulillah, All praise and thanks are for Allah] my kids turned out to be good, practicing Muslims, MashaAllah. May they always remain on the righteous path. Ameen. (Madeeha Vohra, Washington DC)

14. Take your children to the mosque daily for at least one prayer out of five.

(Uzma Anjum, South Riding, VA)

15. When you have smaller children, you have it easy! Enjoy them. As far as advice for the older children, I would say learn to listen. 

Communication is key, and that has been what has helped me make that connection with my son. Have an open-door policy with your child. Whenever we get into arguments, we make sure to talk it out. Sometimes when they are lashing out, it is because they need your attention. As the parent, be ok with apologizing. Just because you are the parent does not mean you have it all figured out. I tell my son that he was not born with a manual; I am learning to be the best Muslim mom as I go. (Nahela Morales, Middlesex, NJ) 

Remember that each family's journey is unique, but the core principles of building strong relationships, fostering open communication, and leading by example remain universal. By following these pieces of advice, and keeping prayer at the top of your list, you can create a nurturing environment that strengthens your children's faith and helps them navigate the complexities of modern life with an Islamic perspective. As parents, your dedication to the Deen and your commitment to raising spiritually resilient children will not only benefit your own family but also contribute to a stronger, more connected Muslim community. May Allah guide and bless our efforts in raising the next generation of steadfast believers. Ameen.

Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator, and mother of six (ages ranging from infant to teen). She is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, a non-profit organization that produces educational resources about Islam in Spanish (hablamosislam.org). She has written, illustrated, and published over a dozen children’s books and currently lives with her family in Maryland. Follow Wendy Díaz on social media @authorwendydiaz and @hablamosislam.


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