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

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

Jazakallah Khairan for this tips. It's very helpful for Muslim parents.

Location

Ghana

Well if this isnt brainwashing then i dont know what is. Your basically keeping your children from making their own decisions in life. Restict what they watch, thatll only make them more curious in that matter. Allowimg your child some freedom to decide things on their own wont hurt them. Allah forbid if they actually want to intergrate into the country they live in and live a little.

Location

toronto

I am not muslim but have many muslim friends, i resent that im being judged on my upbringing, it wasnt very good, i was in care. i was married and had a son now 19 at oxford university currently studying in china for a year, he is respectful and would never encourage someone to act against their self interests, but if he had a slip as kids do then its up to the others to say no and he would respect that decision, not to accept that or to force or coerce is oppressive behaviour and not something friends should be involved in, its also common among kids in the west and i dont find it acceptable to act like that , its bullying behaviour and every human feels the energy from the words and that it has negative tones, so unless your child is forced, allow them to mix with their peers, regardless of religion and trust you have taught your child how to thank someone for the offer but politely refuse and vice versa, if asked why then explain and a true friend will respect their wishes, young people today of all religions deserve more credit for being able to manage their social circles, unless there is a display of negative acts resulting from this, not being religious doesnt mean people dont know how to behave respectfully towards another, integration leads to sharing of knowledge and understanding and less ignorance means less bias and less acceptance of bias where its seen as unfair, oppressive behaviour is a human trait not cultural, it is imbalance of the mind caused the existance of the oppressed, there is no oppression without and oppressor and no oppressor without oppression, this means for balance to restore both sides must act, equality is the only way to remove imbalance, segregation will ensure imbalance as each side assumes oppession from the other, the real faith we all need to get back is in each other, we all know in a balanced state there is harmony and we all feel pain, guilt, remorse as a sign of imbalance and we know the only way to achieve balance is to remove the source of the imbalance which is and can only be fear, oppressive activity is an act which creates oppression and often the oppressed will fight so hard they become the oppressor thus merely shifting the balance, we must act as a whole to achieve balance and equality but we believe this requires a collective effort and burden when the truth is we each own our own imbalances, remorse is an act resulting from unintentional acts of oppression but refusal from the oppressed to look to achieve balance can lead to formation of guilt, guilt is a long term result of oppressive behaviour, if remorse is rejected it is due to an act off oppression by the initially oppressed, meaning one now has seek for find the reason the remorse was rejected and to use this as a guage for the level of repentance and forgiveness required overall to achieve balance, the goal is equality, each individual must act to restore themself to a balanced state dependant on their personal guilt or fear and if all are successful then equality will exist and we will all be living in harmony with each other. Now if apply guidelines that means that you may be taught what actions are responsible for feelings of guilt and that there is a third party with who you must appease to try and regain balance, and it is possible condition the belief you are forgiven but it can be as it requires the oppressed and oppresser to achieve it, and to apply collective sin and required remorse then that means success is measured against and external source and if believed to be achieved then there will never be true balanced restored between the oppressed and oppressor, either through not being remorseful enough and by implying you know how oppressed they felt and that act alone is oppressive, no matter how it plays out only equality can restore balance, if the oppressed no longer exists then it is personal guilt and regret that needs to be balanced and this means also retaining the stable state in the future but if the sources exists then it must by the laws of physics be unbalanced so equality requires both sides to reattain an equal balance and the desire to achieve this driven by guilt . There is currently a huge lack of remorse and forgiveness

Location

Glasgow

Salaam. My husband feels it is OK to leave my 14yr old stepdaughter at home at night alone. Situations have happened and I was unaware of this. Only once since we have been married and I was away. I was brought up in a religious Arab household where this is unacceptable for many reasons...one just for her security another obviously (b/c of this day and age) safe from boys (texting, calling, internet etc). Plz can anyone let me know ur thoughts on this? Jazak Allah Khair

Location

detroit

I'm in the same situation as you sister please help. My daughter is 15 I feel it is too me from r marriage

Location

Philly

Never leave your children home alone. Once or twice is okay but if it is habitual than it's a problem. Humans are made weak by nature. In this day and age in a society which is a very corrupt it is unacceptable to leave your child alone in any circumstance except emergency situations, I recommend a guardian like a family member or friend which keeps watch over her until your arrival.

thank you so match for so power full advice me allah bless you

Location

stanmore

My name is Umar Alli, I am 19yo from nigeria and my parents lack parenting skills..they take islam as a force thing and truth be told I am starting to get tired of being a muslim even their parenting sucks because they take islam as force..I have been with them for 19 years and I am sure they don't know anything about me, well they think they know a lot about me..and I believe part of parenting and islam is knowing what your child like and doesn't like and don't use what he doesn't like to play with him..my parent does that a lot and when I tell them I don't like it they say they are my parent and they can do anything they want to me and he keeps quoting the quran buh the truth is islam doesn't want us to inconvinient anybody even your enemy... Please I need somebody to talk to and gimme advice about it.. My whatsapp is +2348072867618.. My facebook is faruq alli balogun (gfx guy)

Location

nigeria

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