Teenage years

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Teenage Years: Most Difficult for the Parentssophie-sollmann-632775-unsplash

“I never asked to be born!”
“Stop trying to control my life!”

“I hate you!”
You thought you were over the hard part—changing diapers and being awakened throughout the night by your crying baby, dealing with an uncontrollable two-year old “monster,” and trying to handle a mischievous child, who was always getting into trouble at school. But now comes the really hard part—coping with a rebellious, often rude and obnoxious, teenager. 
Muslim Parents: Not Immune from Teenage Problems
The teenage years have historically been a difficult period for parents in America, with very few exceptions. Struggling to find their own place in the world, teenagers often rebel against the ways of their parents. They want to experiment to find out what is best for them. And, unfortunately, Muslim parents may also face many of the same problems with their teenagers that non-Muslim families face.


Muslim children can also be tempted to drink alcohol or take drugs, be physically attracted to someone of the opposite sex in their class, skip school, or get involved in the wrong crowd.


No doubt, it will be a traumatic experience for a Muslim family to find out that their son or daughter is taking drugs, secretly going out on dates with the opposite sex, or getting in trouble with the police, but it could happen. And what if they become addicts, contract AIDS by having unmarried sex, or become a mother or father before marriage. Our great dreams for our children could suddenly turn into nightmares. It has happened to other Muslim families.


This is, of course, a very frightening thought for most parents. Some will merely say that it won’t happen to their Muslim child. But others will take action and look for ways to prevent these problems or to better handle them if they arise. 


Although no two families have exactly the same situation, there are some general guidelines for dealing with Muslim teenagers that might be useful.


We should teach them from an early age about Allah Ta’aala , the Prophets AS, the Sahabah RA, and the great heroes of Islam.


If we develop in them a love for Islam and provide them with righteous examples for their heroes, they will be much less likely to go astray. A person wants to be like his heroes. If he admires Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, Abu Bakr Radhiyallahu Anhu, and AliRadhiyallahu Anhu, he will try to follow their example. If he admires a rock star or a gang leader, he will want to be like them. If we inspire our children with good examples, when they are tempted to do wrong, they will, InshaAllah, remember these examples and remain steadfast. 


Although I was raised as a Christian and didn’t embrace Islam until I was in my 20s, I was greatly influenced by the Biblical stories of Prophets like Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, and Isa (Peace be upon them all). Although the Biblical stories were not in their pure form, they still inculcated in me a love and respect for the way of the Prophets. Although I fell into many of the temptations of youth, Alhamdulillah, I always felt something within me holding me back from going too far. While many of my friends went headlong into a highly destructive way of life, I believe that my knowledge of, and affection for, the Prophets helped me to return to a better path.


We must be very careful about our children’s friends


During the teenage years, children often care more about what their friends say than what their parents or elders say. According to a hadith, “Man is upon the path of his intimate friend; so let each look to whom he takes as a friend.” If our children have good, sincere, and righteous friends, the chances are good that our children will be like them. If, on the other hand, our children hang around with children who take drugs and get into trouble, our children will likely take drugs and get into trouble. 


Therefore, it is essential from an early age that we try to get our children involved with good children. One way to encourage this is by regularly taking them to the mosque (be careful of not creating disturbance) or by sending them to an Islamic school where they will have the opportunity to meet and interact with Muslim children. We should be worried though if our children start hanging around with bad-mannered and disrespectful children.


We should encourage our children to participate in wholesome religious, social, and sports activities


Bored teenagers are more likely to look for fun and excitement in the wrong place. “Idle hands are the devil’s (shaytan’s) workshop,” someone once said. If teenagers’ lives are full of good and exciting things to do, they will not have the time or the desire to get involved in bad things. 


We should try to channel their teenage zeal into constructive avenues


Sometimes, teenagers begin to criticize the way of life of their parents and society, and parents are often angered by this. However, we must keep in mind that sometimes they may be right. Our lives and our society are not perfect, and teenagers may have fresh insight into how to improve them. In Living With Teenagers: A Guide for Muslim Parents, Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood writes:


“Teenagers are idealists—they want to change the world, and make it a better place. These are not bad ideals, and it is a great pity that adults have forgotten their own ideals in the rat-race of daily life. You, the parent, may have ended up as just a hard-working nonentity in some quiet niche in life; a teenager who is a real idealist may end up as a famous person, a reformer, a politician, an aid-worker—who knows. The future lies there before them.


It is therefore a foolish parent who tries to ridicule and trample on that young idealism. If it is consistent with Islam, it should be fervently encouraged, and not set at nought.”


If a teenager is idealistic and wants to improve the world, we should encourage him and help him. If he if full of zeal but lacks the proper direction, we should help him to use that zeal constructively. If we get teenagers involved in helping those in need and in working for important causes, their zeal could make a tremendous impact.


We should sometimes admit that we are wrong


Parents make mistakes. If we admit to our children that we are wrong at times, they will not always feel that they have to rebel against us and prove that we are wrong.


We should listen to our children


Sometimes, children act out in order to get our attention. If we give them our attention freely, they will not have to seek it in destructive ways. Also, by listening to our children, there is a greater chance that they will confide in us and ask us questions, rather than seeking answers from negative sources.


We should do what we say


Teenagers hate hypocrisy, and many of them seem to have a built-in radar for detecting it. If we want them to listen to us and take our advice, they must trust us. If we tell them not to drink, but drink ourselves, they will not respect us.
The teenage years are usually difficult, and parents need to prepare for them before they arrive. If parents have built a strong, trusting, and loving relationship with their children before the teenage years, their children will be less likely to go astray. It is very difficult to see one’s child going in the wrong direction and not know how to stop him from destroying himself. But if we work hard to instil in them the right values early and try to help them develop a wholesome lifestyle without being overbearing, perhaps we can prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring.

Secret Teacher: the working culture in teaching is impossible for mums

Courtesy of: http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2015/jul/25/secret-teacher-working-culture-teaching-impossible-for-mums?CMP=new_1194&CMP=

Imagine the scene. I’m racing down the motorway, pedal to the metal, desperately trying to get to my daughter’s school. I’m running half an hour late for one of the most important events in the school calendar: parents’ evening. When I finally arrive, I pat myself down to try and look presentable, before scrambling into a seat next to my husband. I mouth “sorry” as I join the meeting, which is already in full flow.

In recent months I have been absent from countless events – from my children’s football matches to their school plays. The reason is ironic: it’s because I am a teacher. I struggle to find time to spend with my family because of the 12-hour days I am expected to work. My students get every bit of me and I would never want to give any less – but it seems unfair that my own children have to suffer.

It’s all the usual things that are tying me down: data and tracking progress, endless marking, pressure to prepare for Ofsted and proving that my pupils are working at the right level. But it’s not just the workload that makes it impossible for me to be there for my children. My main gripe is that there’s no flexibility about when my work gets done. There is a culture of staying until all hours, which means I can’t pick my children up from school or make them dinner. I am happy to do the work, but it doesn’t seem like a massive ask to leave on time every now and then, and finish bits off at home.

When I do occasionally leave early, the judgmental eyes of the senior leadership team look down on me. I left at 5.30pm one day to pick up my son from school because my husband was away and my mum was poorly. I had already spent hours planning lessons that I knew were good, but the fact that I wasn’t floating around the corridors until midnight just wasn’t acceptable. Comments were made. “Oh, you’re leaving early,” one colleague said. In the staff meeting the next morning, praise was showered on those who had worked late the night before.

Then there are the events that teachers are expected to attend, which also rob me of valuable family time. I am forced to go to staff meetings and curriculum evenings even when they aren’t related to my subject; sometimes I feel like a showpiece, there to be displayed to parents regardless of whether I’m needed or not.

All this means I am forced to compromise on the time I spend with my children. They don’t complain any more when I miss their school events, they just get a disappointed look on their faces. I feel I am shortchanging them. I am tired of giving excuses and I’m sure they are tired of hearing them.

I believe it is possible to be a good teacher and a mother. All we need is the support of schools and managers, and for them to allow us the flexibility we need. It’s about how we are allowed to manage our work. There shouldn’t be this pressure to be tied to our desks; staying later doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re working any harder. Managers need to understand that parents have their own children to care for – so what if we don’t stay late? We can work at other times.

It’s because of this lack of support that I’ve had to make the tough decision to leave teaching this year. I have little choice but to go for the sake of my family. I don’t know what I am going to do next – I need to spend the summer thinking about how I can use my skills in a role that will be more flexible. It’s a big step and one that I hadn’t anticipated making, but it’s got to the point where something has to change. My children are nine and 12, and I want to capture these last moments of them growing up.

Every day is a balancing act for mums in any profession and I guess we’ve all got to get used to that. But I worry about the future of education – I fear that this ridiculous working culture is making teaching unworkable for mums.