Saturday, November 14, 2009

Parenting as a Muslim

My Nora is only a toddler, so Islam has not had that much influence on the way I parent. I have always been an attachment parenting type of parent, and I continue that now. She's too young to have issues need to be dealt with in an Islamic way like boys, starting to pray, wearing hijab, thinking about partying and alcohol, all those things. But I start to realize how quickly these things are coming!

It started with my co-worker's niece who started school in September (kindergarten, I think). My co-worker told us about how the little girl got home sometime near the end of the first week in school and declared that she had "un amoureux" (means a lover in French)! A few days later, more development to the story... there's an other little girl who is "into" this boy and the other little girl is dissing the competition (co-worker's niece). Like... what the heck, they are 5!!

Kids so totally don't need this type of drama in their life when for them, what would be natural would just to play together and have easy-to-solve fights. How ew that they have learned somehow to put themselves in adult roles (boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, etc.). I am starting to think more about what Nora watches lately because of how early things can start to have an influence. I'm happy not to have cable or satellite right now. We only download what we want to watch. But not everything me and Ahmed might watch is really suitable for Nora and she is often there with us or at least in the room when we watch TV.

The show that is bugging me most right now is the Simpsons because of how much she likes it, but how adult a show it really is... Looks like a kid show but it is not suitable for kids. She's as interested in it as her toddler baby shows but it contains adult themes and violent content (stranglings and the Itchy and Scratchy show they watch). I don't download actual kids shows much, and I'm actually scared of the new shows that have come out. One of them that plays on kids channels here is Samantha et Chantal and it's two dudes dressed as girls! I don't know anything more about the show, but it's so confusing gender roles and just plain homo looking! Here is a link to the image search results on Google. And I saw some ads for other shows with lots of gross vomiting stuff....

Then there's these stupid Brat dolls. I think they have a show too... They just disgust me. Why should being a brat be a good thing, first of all? And then there's their look. Tiny with huge heads and lots of make-up. They also have new troll dolls out that have the big colourful hair in the air, but they are skinny. UKH.

I'm scaring myself writing this post. I don't want to shelter Nora from everything that is out there because that will not help. So that means she will have to confront the things that are out there, but I need to make sure she knows what is what... There are so many little things that could happen. I won't be with her all the time... She will be with friends and they will talk about things. Communication will be SO SO SO SO SO IMPORTANT to make sure I can make her know the right thing the day she hears something that might be off. What about the very subtle things like getting a negative body image, etc? Being happy with my body and keeping her away from images that often cause a person not to be unhappy with her's is a very good beginning and major part of my plan, but she could get influenced into disliking her body from other places... Just a few images and a few people around her like friends who dislike their body. A comment from a peer. Anything...!

I'm scared!

Note: Yeah, this had nothing to do with Islamic parenting after all... I just scared myself writing this and thinking of all the things that could happen. And that I would have tried to avoid for her were I Muslim or not.

9 Comentários:

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Some of those dolls and cartoon characters creep me out! There are a lot of reasons we don't even have a TV. We are definitely not afraid of technology, but I don't want the media dictating what's appropriate for my daughter to watch. Its good that you're thinking about this stuff before Nora gets much older.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I know, it's pretty scary!

We don't have cable tv either. Partly because of that, and because of the cost - it's not necessary for us. They like the PBS cartoons and I rent DVDs from the library - they like Dora, Diego, and Thomas DVDs the best. They had a Barney phase too but lucky for me they're not too into him any more (kind of annoying music).

Fortunately it seems that they could care less about those Bratz dolls as well as Barbies.
We're also homeschooling at this point- my oldest isn't in preschool and we're planning on doing it through Kindergarten at least.

I've heard moms say that such-and-such a kid was their son's/daughter's "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" or that they were getting married ... it's just really weird.

I think we as moms can be good examples as far as our own body image goes ... and being good people, etc ... at this point in my daughter's life I can control who they spend time with. Try to push them toward spending time with little girls that seem nice as opposed to rude/mean.

muslim convert / revert said...

I know exactly how you feel,
my little one is 2 1/2 years old masha Allah,
and starts nursery school soon.ek!

Those brats dolls freak me outbig time,
and why would people want there kids playing with brats there name says it all,
there big heads :-S
(like whatO_o? ar they supposed to be super arrogant! or something!)
then theres there clothing or lack of it!

Yes im often shocked that boyfriends and girlfriends ar often encouraged by nursery staff,school teachers and parents.
Children should be let be,
innocent and just play without having to be gender aware and the drama of boyfriends and girlfriends.

Alhumdilah ive found many films and cartoons that ar islamic based eductaional yet interesting on the internet such as zaky for madinah which she loves.

I worry to,
that once she is older
more and more things will be confusing and conflicting for her I hope insha Allah i will be the best role model I can be for her and bring a positive and understanding approach to our lives.

Im glad now that shes young that I can teach and have her in a enviroment which I feel best for her,
as they say what a young child learns and picks up is like carving in stone.

Insha Allah our kids ar blessed devoted muslims that Allah keeps them safe and they beneifit from there upbringings and knowlegde we share with them. Ameen

caraboska said...

Oh, it has plenty to do with an Islamic upbringing. And if the teachers are encouraging boyfriend/girlfriend relationships already in nursery school, then I think probably you cannot send them to a public nursery school. You would have to teach the child to observe full hijab while there - at the age of three! - and make sure the teachers know they cannot expect your child to compromise. No being alone with MOSs. No touching MOSs. No eye contact. No unnecessary conversation. Etc. But this sounds all but impossible to do in a public setting... Although then again, I think it is better to teach kids to observe modesty - and if you believe zero mixing is the standard, then zero mixing - from infancy. Because otherwise, let's say your little girl is eight years old, she has a little boy from the neighborhood that she plays with, but then it comes time for her to put on hijab, and what? She suddenly can't play with or talk to her friend anymore? Or maybe you have them get married (at age 10?) if that's a problem? Hmm...

LK said...

There are a lot of cute kid shows on DVD. Ni Hao Kai Lan is adorable. And yes, those Brat dolls terrify me. I have no idea who thought those were a good idea. They look like they are dressed to go clubbing and they are for 6 year olds!

I miss the kids shows we had when I was little. Care Bears, My Little Pony, Super Mario Super Show. They were nice and uncomplicated.

Candice said...

Stacy, it's nice to hear that there are a bunch of others on here without TV. No need to be brainwashed by that crap. Best to just select what we want to watch. :)

Aynur, I'm glad they're not interested in the Bratz dolls yet. My niece is 7 and she liked them a lot last year... Hopefully your kids will stay uninterested. Oftentimes, it's what's cool at school that will end up interesting them so that's what is scary. I know I wouldn't have a problem if she was homeschooled.

Muslim convert/revert, you are so right, they should just play at this age and not be aware of gender so much. Yes, at 5 they are learning that there are differences, but it should stay innocent for a few more years at least!

But really, I think they are still really innocent, these kids playing boyfriend-girlfriend. They don't really understand what it is, but they try. And of course if you start trying to understand at 5 instead of 10, you are bound to think you're ready for adult things like sex earlier (like at 13 instead of 18!).

LK. true there are some cute shows! Nora watches pretty good shows normally. It's when my husband needs to watch the Simpsons while she's there or something... it bugs me.

Amber said...

Ugh. While I don't have kids yet, I've already decided that I'm going to have to keep them locked in the house. And no internet or tv access.

I teach a group of kids at church, six, seven years old. The girls are always talking about their 'boyfriends'. Why do they have boyfriends at that age? They shouldn't. Absolutely not.

And the clothing...*shudder* Not on my school kids, thankfully, but in the malls and public school. Nope. Not happening.

I mentioned that my kids wouldn't ever dress like some kid I saw, and my friend told me that my kid would wear what they wanted. To which I replied, 'not when they're living in my house they won't.' The kid is not in charge. The parent is. And if you raise them right, not just, you know, laying down the rules, but teaching them *why*, then when they grow up, hopefully, they will continue to dress and act appropriately.

Yeah, I'm aware I'm going to be that crazy mom who's really strict, but, uh, I remember what *I* got up to without my parents noticing.

Candice said...

Locked up in the house, I like that! :p

I also find crazy the way some kids dress! I like Nora to wear long dress-type tops with pants or a flowy cute skirt with a regular shirt. Of course at her age I don't mind her being in a bathing suit or wearing a tank top or shorts but it's not really part of her regular wardrobe. Might as well make normal for her something that is not too drastically different from what I will want her to be wearing later on. For her, skirts are something she feels free to play in. She can roll around in the grass, throw herself in a pile of mud, whatever. It's not fancy wear for her, it's regular wear.

And you're so right, it's about teaching them why they need to be a certain way. If they understand that, then they respect the rule and don't just feel like they are being told what to do. I want to have communication fully open with Nora, even if it's about her starting to think about boys, all that stuff. It's normal for that to happen at a certain age and I want her to figure these things out talking to me, not her friends.

Anonymous said...


Because of these "oh, how cute, this 4-year-old has a boyfriend" & "Barbie/Bratz is essential for any girl" & "you can't stop your children dressing like fashionable adults (= half-naked)" - comments and other similar ones I think that it would be better to keep the children at home as long as possible. But it is not financially possible for everyone (even with willingness to make sacrifices from one's standard of living), especially in countries where the state does not give financial support for such families. Then one just should try to have/find nice family friends with similar values and have the children play together or take part to the possible children's events happening in the mosque/Islamic cultural centre etc. It's much more complicated to supervise the friends they make when they start school, though that time too it would be could to meet the children's friends' parents.

I feel that if the children get used to a certain value system, or a value athmosphere might be a better word, when they are young (when they still think that the parents' way of doing things is the only normal way), it sticks to them and even when they get older and start to think for themselves, they easily return to the way of the childhood as it has stick to their consciousness. That's why I think the longer you can keep your children away of too much exposure to the "big bad world" the better. (Teenagers are a different case - when children learn to think for themselves (the brains have developed far enough) it might be risky to try to shelter them too much, because it might just entice them to try all the forbidden things; at that point I think it's more important to encourage an open, honest communication and be forgiving for possible mistakes done by the youngsters).

And what comes to the Islamic parenting of toddlers: it's never too early to start to let them listen to the Quran (from computer for example (neither me nor my husband are native Arabic speakers so at least the children are learning the right pronunciation from the beginning))! At least my 3-year-old has liked it a lot already for a long time (even before she knew how to talk she could come and say "missaali" (bismillaahi) if she wanted to listen to Quran on the computer! Another thing is getting them used to saying bismillaahi when starting a meal and alhamdulillaahi when finishing meal (or the same in one's own language) - even small children pick these very quickly. And also praying they start to copy at a very early age. This can give the parents also motivation to try to keep themselves steadfast in regular prayer.
And as mentioned before, being a good example / role model for the children. Not just being friendly and kind and polite but also noticing one's own attitudes (I'm trying to work on being more accepting to God's will, meaning not getting so frustrated when things don't go as planned (really difficult for me...) and being grateful for what I have got (health, enough food, roof over my head, no war in my homecountry etc.)) - the children pick these kinds of things too without even noticing it and they might not have as hard time remembering them when they are adults.

(And thanks, Candice, for the idea to use the term "the traditional view of Islam", it does sound better!)


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