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Islamic Upkeep of the Teenagers

By: Abdul Adheem al-Muhtadi al-Bahrani

What should I do if I have a teenager who neglects prayers and is not interested in hijab?
Question: My daughter is seventeen years old. She pays no attention to prayers. I hate forcing her to offer prayers against her will, but at the same time I cannot bear to have her give up prayers. Moreover, she does not care for her veil. With what would you advise me to make her abide by these religious obligations?
The answer: First, please, excuse me to say that you have come late!
Second, you should offer prayers in her presence without making her think that you do it intentionally, and after your prayers, supplicate to Allah for her. Mention her name and pray to Allah to make her successful in her life! This will gradually make her love prayers, and whenever she achieves success or gains some good, tell her that this is because of the blessing of supplication after prayers!
Third, you should buy her some Islamic books, especially those concerning the importance of prayers and veil and their meanings and constructive influences in life. Bring her audio and video cassettes and CDs to create a religious atmosphere in the house for her!
Fourth, ask her to remind you of the time of azan! By this you will make her, somehow, care for prayer and you will pave the way for her to accept this sacred obligation. On some occasions, you should mention to her the advantages of veiling and show her the opinions of the Qur'an and the Prophetic traditions about it.
Fifth, if she is not affected after practicing these steps for sometime, you should discuss with her why she does not offer prayers and why she does not care for her veil. Try to answer her questions quietly, logically, kindly, and attractively!
Sixth, when, someday, she does offer the prayer, thank her and encourage her! Tell her: dear daughter, I see a light on your face. This light will illuminate your way towards the perfect happiness if you keep up your prayers thoughtfully and longingly!
Finally, you should know that this role is not limited to you alone. You have to encourage your wife and other religious women in the family to participate in it. If it is possible, you can bind her to friendship with some religious girls.

How should I deal with my children being constantly quarrelsome with each other?
Question: I have three quarrelsome children. They quarrel at everything with each other and with other children too. I do not know how to deal with this problem, which is about to destroy my nerves!
The answer: The most important causes of such a case, as I think, are:
1. The participation of the children in the same things, such as the same toy, the same meal, and the same clothes; this causes competition and quarreling amongst them
2. Showing love to a certain child and depriving the other
3. The smallness of the house or the room of the children
4. When children watch quarrels, whether in the house, the street, the school, or in films.
Treating this problem requires dealing with the causes besides continually advising in a quiet and lenient manner. In addition, you may embrace the children in the same way and kiss them from time to time because this will plant sympathy inside them and make the solution of the problem easier and faster inshallah.
I suggest that, on some occasions, you buy a box of chocolates, for example, and give it to your children to distribute it among other children so that they may learn the spirit of gift-giving and altruism and thus the case of quarreling to seize others’ possessions will decrease or disappear.

What should we do to make a child give up playing with others’ things?
Question: What should we do to make a child give up playing with others’ things?
The answer: The following steps are sufficient for this aim:
1. Let others not play with his things.
2. You should teach him about the rights of others and how to regard their possessions through stories and instructions in accordance with the level of his understanding.
3. When your child takes others’ things, you should immediately return those things to their owners and make the child participate in it himself in order for him to keep in mind how to respect others’ possessions.
4. When the child gives up playing with others’ things, you should reward him and declare to him that the reward is for his amiable situation of not playing with others’ things.

My wife and I differ in ideas of child rearing and she acts contrary to my wishes in child rearing; what can I do?
Question: I suffer, in educating my children, from a problem that may destroy all my efforts. The problem is that my wife does not coordinate her efforts with me. For example, I ask my daughter not to buy toys for boys, but after a few days, I find my wife buying those toys for her. I encourage my older son to choose the profession of medicine, while my wife encourages him to choose engineering because her father is an engineer. Do these contradictions not corrupt the education of our children? Does it not create a duality that wastes our efforts and makes the children complain to their parents?Your Eminence, would you please guide me how I can get rid of this suffering by giving a suitable solution to this problem?
The answer: A concordant family is the family whose members manage their affairs together with good faith, mutual trust, and hopefulness. The children of such a family will graduate with good mentality, high self-confidence, and hopefulness in life. They will have enough motives of progress to help them pass any difficulties in their ways.
Dear brother, if you ponder on this fact and sit with your wife to discuss all its dimensions, you will agree on coordination, cooperation, and interchanging opinions regarding the educational and future affairs of your children.
If you want your suffering to not cause you problems one after another, you should hasten to cure it. Your wife is the closest one to you and she has the right to participate with you in educating your children, for children are not the possessions of just one of the parents. It would be better for you both to sit together and agree on the same strategic aims in educating your children and then you can agree on suitable manners to carry out those aims. When there is any disagreement between you and your partner in life, you must avoid despotism and quarreling in the presence of the children. You can discuss your different affairs in a closed room and away from the children, even when you discuss nice matters quietly!
You should keep in mind that your children have the right to give their opinions on the matters that concern them, especially those concerning their future, when they are fit to choose. Their opinions and legal wishes must be requested so that they feel the freedom of choosing and discussing in a sphere of consultation full of love and sincerity. This is one of the necessities of good education, which has unfortunately disappeared from the conducts of most people.

I feel I treat my children unequally and love some more than others: What is the solution to this problem?
Question: My children are not the same in most of their qualities, and this makes me and those who are in contact with them love some of them more than the others. Sometimes, I feel remorse; what is the guilt of this child who receives less love and sympathy than the others just because of the difference in beauty and sweet-tonguedness? Would you please guide me to the right, because, as you know, this is a problem of many people?
The answer: There is no doubt that each child has a special position inside his parents’ hearts and also in the house, school, and society. It is because of the qualities each child has and his/her educational manners that parents and others differentiate. An only child has a different position from one who has siblings. Likewise does the only male child among some sisters. A clever child is often preferred to a dull one. But, when admiring a certain child, one should be fair in dealing with all. He should show love and kindness to all of his children equally; otherwise, unfairness causes envy of the pampered child. Hence, parents should be careful in dealing with their children to get balanced relations among all. And, in order to not wrong the clever child when he and the dull one are treated equally, you should make the dull one understand that your greater care for the clever one is just because of his qualifications and efforts and make him understand that when he himself makes an effort to improve himself, he will deserve more care too. The matter will be different if the difference between the children is natural. For example, if one of the children is handicapped from birth. In this case, the handicapped one should be treated with more care than the others due to the mercy that Islam has made incumbent upon us and in order to avoid the psychological effects that may affect the children.
Here, I must mention two necessities: First, we must think of the punishment in the afterlife if we harm a child or deprive him of his rights that are obligatory on parents or those who are responsible for him to fulfill.
Second, we must think humanely towards a deprived child.
I hope that in the future we can learn how to keep ourselves safe from the remorse that stems from the bad education of our children and its negative effects.

How can I make my child more serious in his study?
Question: How can I make my child more serious in his study? Do you have any way with which I can help him out of his laziness in learning? I hope that you will guide me in this matter that decides the future of my only child.
The answer: There are two factors stimulating one towards what is required and taking laziness and languor away from him. The first one is the internal motive and the second is the external goal.
A motive is the mental and intellectual state from which one receives nourishment. A goal is the external attractiveness of the aim in one’s eye and mind.
In order to be successful in leading your son towards a good future that pleases Allah and that is respected among people, you should create for him a motive and assign to him an important goal. This requires concentrating on the following points:
1. You should take out of his mind the example he follows in his laziness and unwillingness to study, and explain to him the harms of imitating an ignorant example. At the same time, you should mention to him a good example and explain to him the advantages of following it.
2. Whenever he changes his conduct and tries to turn towards a good example, you should reward him and repeatedly encourage him. Some experts of modern education advise of limited and reasonable punishments if a child continues imitating an ignorant example. Islam also advises of this matter according to the requirements of the situation and the decision of a wise educational leader.
3. You should educate your son with any means he likes. For example, if he likes watching films, you can bring him good cultural films, and if he likes games, you can bring him mental games.
In general, you should create cultural spheres in your house by, for example, bringing books and attractive meaningful magazines, inviting scholars and learned people to your house to discuss cultural and intellectual questions, and talking about different educational issues.

Why do my children not respect me?
Question: My elder son does not respect me, and the younger one has begun imitating him in that for some time now, though I think that I have not failed in satisfying any of their rights. What do you think the reason is?
The answer: Whenever the father shows his love to his children in different ways and on different occasions, they respect and regard him more, except if there are special defects in the children’s mentalities the blame of which does not lie with the father.
The father is the first factor in forming the type of relationship between him and his children. The father who does not allow his son to talk freely and declare what is in his mind should not expect his son to respect him from the moment he begins opening his eyes to life.
The father who treats his child coercively, shouts at him, insults him, or maybe even slaps him if he is a little late in carrying out his orders will destroy every excuse for making his child respect him.
The father who treats his children unequally and does not show them the same love and respect should accept the fact that they will not respect him because he himself has not respected them.
The father who allows his children to revel in every bad culture and suspicious friendships and is indifferent to any bad habit they adopt will not find in them what will please him.
Dear brother, as long as you have not neglected your children’s rights, perhaps there are other reasons behind their not respecting you. From among these reasons is that your children may be teenagers. This is a temporary state that often disappears between the age of twenty-five and thirty. If your child is older than this age, his conduct towards you may be because he has thoughts opposite to yours.
Anyhow, I would advise every father to not make himself as a military officer, his house as a military barrack, and his children as his soldiers! Fathers should, from the very beginning, plant love into their children’s hearts and educate them in a way that makes them feel they have independent personalities in the house and in life.
The moral teachings and values Islam has issued are sufficient to make man perfect, but it is the duty of fathers, mothers, and children to adhere to these teachings in order to protect themselves from any educational disease that may trouble their family life. Surely, prevention is better than cure but most people are indifferent.

How can I make my son leave bad friends?
Question: My son has bad friends. Would you please guide me with how I can make him leave them? Should I do that with violence or is there another way?
The answer: You can offer him alternatives by acquainting him with good friends from among your friends’ sons. You may do that by suggesting and agreeing with those fathers on a group trip to a summer camp, for example, or a travel to the holy shrines or something like that to allow him to make friends with these good kids. It is better that you not tell him about the purpose of this step. Besides, you yourself should make him your friend. The transcendence we find in most fathers before their children is not acceptable. The father can be the best friend of his son. He can teach him his experiences, talk with him about his past, and direct him towards the future tactfully, kindly, and wisely.
It is necessary for the father who is concerned for his son’s future to appreciate his son, praise him, respect him, encourage him to always strengthen his self-confidence, and enable him to deal with those around him in an acceptable social manner.

How do I teach my child to keep in order his toys and stuff?
Question: How do we deal with the child who does not collect his toys and return them to their proper places after he is done playing with them? This tires me out in addition to my work in serving food, washing clothes, and sweeping the house.
The answer: You can follow these suggestions or some of them according to your need: First, before your child begins playing, you should remind him that one of the conditions for his playing is that he has to collect the toys after he has finished playing with them.
Second, if he does not abide by this condition and leaves his toys scattered everywhere, you can prevent him from something he likes as a kind of punishment until he carries out that condition. If he returns to his bad habit, you can return to punishment, and so on until he starts to follow what is required from him.
Third, in times other than his playtime, you can tell him some tales having concepts of discipline and orderliness. You can tell him that a lovely child and a successful man are the ones who undertake their responsibilities, care for their things, protect them, and put everything in its place.
Fourth, at the end of his playing, you may help him a little and then begin a competition with him of who can collect the most toys.
Fifth, you can assign to him an independent room where if he does not collect his toys there, it will not matter. However, from time to time, you should arrange his room so that he does not grow accustomed to disorderliness.

When my son became a teenager, he became disrespectful; why has this happened?
Question: My son is fifteen years old. Now, he is different from how he was before. He used to be quiet and well mannered, but now he is very mutinous. He refuses to be advised and turns his back on me whenever I ask him for something. I do not know why he has suddenly become like this.
The answer: Your son is now passing through the stage of moving from childhood to youth. Physically and mentally, he is undergoing changes of cells and reactions of hormones. He is at the threshold of a new stage, where he will like to know about what he has not known before. Things around him are new for him. He does not like to deal with them as before when he was a child. Now, he considers himself an adult. Socially, people, friends, the media, and all that he sees in the street affect him. Intellectually, he looks for the proofs of everything that has been said before about beliefs and ideas. Questioning in this transitional stage is natural for him. If parents scold or shout at him in their manners of guiding, he will slip into deviation and then into the major deviation, especially if he falls into the traps of bad friends.
It is necessary for parents to be accurate and careful in dealing with children in this new state, regardless of whether they are boys or girls. It is a temporary state that just needs wisdom and great care, and then both, you and your children, will be comfortable.

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