22 tips for parents on keeping Muslim teens Muslim

What does it take for parents to get a teen to become a practicing Muslim?

Sound Vision has talked to parents, Imams, activists and Muslims who have grown up in the West to ask what are some practical things parents can do to help Muslim teens maintain their Deen. These are some of their suggestions:

Tip #1: Take parenting more seriously than you would a full-time job

This means both parents must understand their children are a trust from Allah, and He will ask how they were raised. If the children do not grow up practicing Islam because of their parents' negligence, it is not going to be pretty in this life or the next.

Tip #2: Reduce or change work hours and exchange them for time with the family

It is better to have one full-time job, fewer luxuries in the house (i.e. more cars, expensive clothes, a bigger, fancier home) and more time with the family, than many material things and absent parents. This goes for mothers AND fathers. Parents can't instill values in their children if they just aren't there, period. Quit that extra job on the weekends or in the evenings and instead drive the kids to the mosque for Halaqas and activities instead. Or consider switching shifts at work so that you're home when the kids are.

Tip #3: Read the Quran, understanding its meaning, for five minutes every day

Just five minutes. Whether it's in the car during a traffic jam, early morning after Fajr, or right before you go to bed, read the Quran with a translation and/or Tafseer. Then watch the snowball effect. You will, Insha Allah, reconnect with Allah, and in the long run, develop into a role model helping your whole family, not just your teen, reconnect with Him too.

Tip #4: Attend a weekly Halaqa

Trade playing cards or watching television on Sunday afternoons for a Halaqa. If you don't have something already in place during that time slot, help the Imam to set one up. Attend it vigilantly. The added bonus of this is that when children see their parents striving to learn about Islam, they will in many cases be encouraged to do the same.

Tip #5: Respect your teen

Respecting your teen means not treating them like inept babies, but like maturing adults, not talking down to them or humiliating and insulting them. It means involving them in useful activities around the home and seeking their opinions on matters of importance.

Tip #6: Take an interest in what they do

Does Noor play hockey in an all-girls' sports league? Attend Noor's games as regularly as possible. Does Ihsan collect stamps? See if you can find old letters from your parents in Malaysia or Lebanon and pass the stamps on them to her. Does Muhsin love building websites? Visit his site, post a congratulatory e-mail on the message board and offer some suggestions for the site. Give him a book on advanced web design as Eid gift.

Tip #7: Be aware of problems and address them straightforwardly

As you spend more time with your teen, you will be more able to sense if there is something bothering them. Don't brush this feeling under the carpet. Address it straight on. But don't do this in the family meeting or n in front of others. Do it during the next tip.

Tip #8: "Date" your teenager

While dating is commonly associated with boy-girl social meetings, the concept can be extended to any meeting between two people wanting to get to know each other better.

It's especially important to "date" your children on an individual level once they hit their teens because they are no longer just "one of the kids". They are young adults who need attention and guidance on an individual level. You can go out on a "date" when Sumayya graduates from high school (instead of going to the prom), when Ahmed gets his driver's license or if you feel there is something bothering them and you want to address them alone.

Tip #9: Don't just be your teen's parent, be his or her partner

Making them a partner means giving them responsibilities within the family. Get 16 year old Amir, who just got his driver's license, to help his mom with grocery shopping on Saturday's; get 15 year old Jasmine, who loves flowers, to be responsible for the garden and mowing the lawn. This way, teens will feel a part of the family, included and needed.

Tip #10: Build a Masjid in your home

Delegate a room, part of the basement or the living room as the home Masjid. You can do this for less than $25.

Make this Masjid entirely the responsibility of the kids. Get the eldest to be in charge and to delegate responsibilities for younger siblings. Responsibilities include keeping the Masjid clean, waking people up for Fajr, calling the Adhan, etc.

Tip #11: Don't practice "men's Islam"

That means don't exclude wives or daughters from prayers. When the men are praying in Jamaah, make sure the women are either behind them or also praying in congregation. Make sure the Imam recites the prayer loud enough for the women to hear if they are in another part of the house. Also, encourage women to pray in Jamaah if there are no men present.

Tip #12: Establish an Islamic library and choose a librarian

Equip your home with an Islamic library with books, video and audio cassettes about various aspects of Islam, catering to everyone's age and interests. If 13-year-old Bilal likes adventure novels, for example, make sure you have a couple of Islamic adventure books

Get one of your teens to be the librarian. S/he keeps materials organized and in good condition. Any requests for materials to be added to the collection have to go through him or her. Give this librarian a monthly budget for ordering new books, cassettes, etc.

Tip#13: Take them out.....to Islamic activities

Instead of a fancy dinner at a restaurant, save your money to take everyone out to the next Muslim community dinner or activity. Make a special effort to go to events where other Muslim teens will be present and the speaker caters his/her message to this crowd.

It's also important to regularly take Bilal and Humayra to Islamic camps and conferences where they will meet other Muslim kids their age on a larger scale.

Tip #14: Move to a racially and religiously mix neighborhood in your city

If your children can interact with Muslim as well as non-Muslim children on a daily basis, it is going to be healthier for their growth. May be a move closer to a masjid is going to help as well.

Tip #15 : Help teens start their own youth group

After living in a Muslim neighborhood and attending Islamic activities regularly, teens in many cases will develop a friendship with other Muslims their age. Don't let this end here.

Help them establish a youth group, not just to learn about Islam, but to go to the amusement park together, go swimming, etc. Have meetings at members' houses on a weekly or bimonthly basis. Get this group involved in useful work like cleaning up litter around the Masjid or visiting senior citizens' homes.This group must have parental supervision, although teens' decision-making powers should not be interfered with unless really necessary.

Tip #16: Establish a TV-free evening and monitor TV watching in general

Parents' biggest competitor for their children's attention is the T.V. Sound Vision's unTV guide. Monitoring what everyone watches simply means taking care to remind and help everyone avoid shows which depict sex, violence and encourage unIslamic activities. Put up a list of acceptable and unacceptable shows on the wall beside the T.V.

Establishing TV-free evenings means having one evening of the week when no one, adult, teen or child is allowed to watch television. Hopefully, this is a first step towards general TV reduction in the home. This is an ideal time to have the next tip.

Tip #17: Have weekly family meetings

The purpose: to find out what is going on in everyone's lives and to consult the family on important issues. Hanan started attending a Halaqa, Imran just returned from a Muslim youth camp, Bilal aced the last algebra test. The point is not to just give this news in point form. It's to elicit discussion and communication between everyone, and to keep up-to-date about what is going on in everyone's life, which gets harder when kids become teenagers.

This is also the place to consult the family and decide on major issues affecting everyone: a move to another city; a marriage of one of the family members; difficulties with a bully in school, etc.

Please note: Shura in the family does not mean a majority vote determines what to do about a situation. While the parents remain in charge, teens and younger children voice opinions and suggestions parents will consider in making a final decision about a matter.

Tip #18: Have "Halal Fun night" once a month

"Fun is Haram" is a joke sometimes heard amongst Muslim youth, mocking the attitude of some Muslims for whom virtually anything enjoyable is automatically labeled Haram (forbidden).

Islamic entertainment is a much neglected area of Muslim concern. Islamic songs, skits, etc. are a viable tool for the transmission of Islam. Maybe 16-year-old Jameel knows how to play the Duff, while his sister Amira, 14, can write and sing well. Let them present their own Islamic song to the whole family. Or have 12-year-old Ridwan recite some of his best poetry. Make one of the teens in charge of this event. Help them establish a criteria of acceptable and unacceptable Halal entertainment.

Tip #19: Provide the right role models-What would Abu Bakr have done?

Apart from being a role model yourself by trying to practice Islam, make sure you provide teens with reading material about the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions (Sahaba), both the men and the women. Otherwise, the characters on the programs your kids watch on television may become their "Sahabas".

Discuss what a Companion may have done in a situation relevant to teens' lives. What would Abu Bakr Siddiq do if he saw a someone selling answers to the grade 11 math final exam? What would Aisha have done is she was confronted with the opportunity to cheat her parents?

Tip #20: Read books on Positive Parenting

These can be books written by Muslims, but even books by non-Muslims can help. However, just be ready and make sure you are able to identify what is Islamically acceptable versus what is not.

Tip #21: Get them married early

The societies of the West are permeated by sex: on TV, billboards, on the streets, buses, in movies, etc. A Muslim teenager facing this is in a tough position: succumb to the temptations or try really, really hard not to. Getting them married early (check out some tips for parents) will ease the pressure, and they don't have to stop their studies to do this. Remember, as a parent you will also be partly responsible if your son or daughter wanted to marry, you stopped them and they ended up having sex outside of marriage. You should also remember when undertaking this step not to force your son or daughter to marry someone they do not like.

Tip #22: Last but not least-Make Dua

Make Dua. It is really Allah who guides and misguides, but if you've done your job as a parent, Insha Allah, keeping your teen a practicing Muslim will be easier to do than if you had neglected this duty. As well, make Dua for your teen in front of them. This reminds them how much you love them and your concern for them.

Comments

There is no freedom except what Allah permits. I would rather live my life accord to the command of Allah than following my own desires. Our nafs can take us down a dark path where the path of Allah is light and honour. This life is a choice for us all. To submit to the will of Allah or not. We want our children to be successful in this as well as the material things of this life. May Allah have mercy on us all.

Location

UK

i apologise for the long post ahead but im 19 and my dad is muslim, very strict in fact and i have struggled my whole life with trying to break away from his oppression, ofc it isn’t just because he’s ‘muslim’ there’s a lot of cultural aspects that affect the way he is aswell as just him being him. I consider myself an atheist, my mum is also athiest, my dad tried to push her to convert but she stood her ground, however i have been raised as a muslim which i think it’s fine if u give ur children a choice but he never gave me a choice and i have had to lie my whole life about my beliefs, and websites like these just do not help? ‘get them married early’ is that a joke or what? there’s so many other great things in life - travelling, education etc. what makes any parent think they have the right to chose how their child lives their life, they’re their own person, u do not own them...i just can’t believe that people want to force their children to do things they don’t want to do, if my child chose to be muslim i would totally respect that but if they chose to be athiest i respect that also, and i feel that a lot of muslim parents lack this idea that their children should have autonomy over their own lives! only now from standing my ground, after enduring physical and mental abuse have i managed to just about get to a position of being able to do what i want, wear what i want, eat what i want etc. but he still doesn’t know i have a boyfriend or that i drink, i mean i’m sure he knows deep down but i think if i told him or he saw me i would dread to think what would happen. i just hate seeing things like this because the people writing these posts clearly do not understand what it’s like for kids with muslim parents growing up in non-muslim countries or kids that just don’t believe in Islam.

Location

london

Dear Anon,
I have read your comment and I am deeply sorry that you did not have the choice of your own religion. Your dad certainly raised you the best he could.
God created us in his image: "Then He said: Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness" Genesis 1:26 and "God created man in His own image; in his likeness He created him; male and female He created them." Genesis 1:27
So God made us in His image, creatures able to think, plan an decide. God did not make us robots, he gave us free choice to chose Him or to reject Him.
He loves each one of us, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" John 3:16. The purpose of each one of us on this earth is that we would believe in the One He sent , his Son Jesus.

Because of our sin, we cannot enter heaven "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23
But Christ paid the penalty for our iniquities so that by believing in Him, we might be saved! "For God demonstrates his love in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" Romans 5:8

God wants all of us to trust in His Son Jesus because He only can give us life in abundance "I am the light of the world, he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." John 8:12
Jesus is our Saviour and He loves you Anon and all the people on the earth so he sacrificed his own life to give us hope of an eternal life. "while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" Titus 2:13
I pray the word of God will be the light unto your path and a lamp unto your feet.

Location

London

Hello I am a mother of 4 and only 2 of my kids have been raised Muslim and they are barely practicing . My son says he prays ( Fajr) only for now . I don’t think my daughter prays although she sees me getting up and praying on time . I remind them of their duty to Allah and that they need to pray and that it is an obligation. I am definitely not oppressive in the way I practice my religion . My daughter has grown up with modesty but still do a not wear hijab because I want her to choose when to wear it because at the end of the day it is between her and Allah not between me and her I tell my kids they have only to please Allah and if they feel I am nagging them too much at times about prayer , it’s out of love and the fear that I will be asked on the day of judgement about how I raised my kids . They were attending quaran class at the masjid but they both decided they did not want to go and I did not force them . My biggest fear is because we live in the USA if I try to force them , they will just rebel against Islam and leave the deen completely. So I make a lot of dua and ask Allah to guide them always and inshallah they will be on track one day . As far as marrying early that is a good idea but definitely cannot be forced and the fact that you have a boyfriend is a clear reason to be married early . At least that way you are living a pure life . I don’t believe in forcing a teen to pray because that is between them and Allah as well and they are old enough to understand why we pray . So I remind them and hope they will someday start praying agian

Location

NH

I am thinking almost the same thing right now.My parents are both muslims, they are surely not as oppressive as your father but I am afraid of telling them that I am having doubts about the religion.I do not know anymore, I am on the verge of becoming an atheist.
You are right when you said that this website does not help people that are atheist.
Since what we really need is somebody to explain to us why the religion is real and erase our doubts.What personally makes me doubt the religion is the fact that it feels like it's chaining me down.
There are several things that are good about it and what it says however, it feels oppressive.It's probably only the other muslim that makes it feels like that and not the religion itself,however this website also makes it feel oppressive.

However, i cannot ignore that there were some tips that were good ideas, apart from the marriage one, but it is not enough to convince me that the religion is real and not oppressive.

Like the basis of the religion is to believe wthout seeing, this is totally what makes atheists.What if there was something else hiding behind it?How can we be so sure about it?Only because of faith?That is where the problem is, atheist don't have that faith.What can you do to convice them to believe in this religion and it's ideas?

AOA. So I just carefully read your sort of rebuttal and complaint and you do make a point. Sad that you unfortunately had to go through this on life so early. Nobody's perfect and definitely parents too make mistakes. The very fact that you had taken out time to write a long post indicates your good intent to resolve or untangle these apparent contractions. I wish you the best in all your endeavours and hope that you very EARLY find the true essence of Islam and apply it to yourself, the rest will fall into place. Kind regards

Location

Pakistan

This article is all the more appropriate to you than anybody else!!

May be you thought your father forced your mother to be a muslim and that's the seed of hatred sown in you??

If you spend a little time on Hadith of Rasulallah (PBUH) you'll know that Islam is so pure and simple, it is all about our obligations towards one another, towards parents, relatives, neighbors, society, muslim brethren, non muslims,

As a teenager you wont have experience to make a decision and you believe you are being forced upon, try to educate yourself, meet the people who can be the right source of guidance and you'll realize what islam and deen is, in sha allah.

Location

India

As a muslim,nothing is forced upon us,we have the simplest belief,5 pillars of islam which is 5 daily prayers,the 1st kalimah which we recite to become a muslim ( I know that simple),going for hajj only if you can afford it ,fasting in.ramadaan except if you're deadly sick or old and sickly ,and giving charity even if it be a smile ...out of a day of 24 hours is it so difficult to abide by these?? Why do.people think of islam as such a difficult religion...yes of course there are other faraaidh which is hijaab dressing up modestly ,having sex after marriage , safeguarding our chastity , respecting parents and surely following the sunnah of our beloved prophet s.a.w but these are actually qualities that we should have as civil human beings anyway...therefore if you look.closely islam is not just any religion but its a way of.life...the quraan is meant for all.of.human kind to read not just a muslim and it clearly states what life is all.about so read the quraan and im not forcing you to follow.it just for some general extra knowledge and decide for yourself wether what people say about.islam is it the religion or the person implying it ? Instead of listening to what others have to say about this beautiful religion read the quraan which is the only book in the entire world that has stayed in its original form from the begginning of time until now and if you go to any place in the world and compare all.quraans you would find each one is same word to word because it is the word of god and no man would ever be able to destroy it or change it...so read the holy book and draw a conclusion yourself ...this is not just meant for you but an overall view for all that read this.

Location

london

I think its only about you. Lots of parents like this idea. There are so many diseases, Drugs and wrong relationship out there. nothing wrong to get advice to protect their children and to become good citizens. Cultural and religion are beautiful.

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