Muslim parents to raise kids in America has its own challenges that can only be realized once their kids attain a certain age. While the kids are young it may be a fairly straight forward affair as kids are typically under the influence of their parents. However, as they grow up and reach a certain age they start challenging their decisions. There are certain things that are not acceptable to a Muslim Parent for their kids and those are the things that they are most worried about as their kids grow up into young adults. Here we will discuss those challenges as below
Sexual relationships among teenage American kids is a normal affair as they go past 18 years of age. As per Wikipedia, starting in the 1920s, particularly after World War II, premarital sex became more common.
It is estimated, that today 75 to 80 percent of Americans youth experience vaginal intercourse before the age of 19. “Premarital sex has become a normal affair for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades”, says researcher Lawrence Finer, director of domestic research at the Guttmacher Institute.
This behavior although may be acceptable in American society however it is forbidden in all biblical religions including Islam. In Christianity, there are 9 verses that teach that sex before marriage is sin and the same is true for Islam as Quran forbids Muslims from adultery and out of wedlock sexual relationships.
In modern day America, 70% of Church-going Catholics do not believe the Bible or Christian teaching on sexuality however for an American Muslim this is not the case. Not every American Muslim may be a regular performer of 5 times daily prayers or practicer of Ramadan fasting however an overwhelming majority would not approve for premarital sex for themselves or their children.
Most Muslim parents worry that as their teenage kids grow up they may be vulnerable to their sexual desires while they see it as a common practice among their peers at schools and colleges. This is a big challenge for American Muslim parents to effectively impart the teachings of Islam to their kids so as to protect them from an act that they believe is a sin as per their faith and cultural values.
Indulgence in Alcohol
Consumption of Alcohol is forbidden in Islam and is considered a sin as it can make a person lose self-control if consumed in excess. There are laws that forbid a person from driving a car when under the influence of alcohol as they become a potential threat to themselves and those with whom they share the roads and highways. There are other health issues that can also arise due to the consumption of alcohol.
Muslim parents do not want their kids to get into this habit as they grow up for the known problems as discussed above and because it is a sin as per their religion. As Muslim youths grow up in the communities that are surrounded by families from other backgrounds who do not consider the alcohol consumption as a problem, it creates a potential parenting challenge as their kids may find themselves different from other friends and neighbors and may develop revolting behavior to challenge their parents.
Parents are always fearful and unsure as to how restraint their kids would be when they hang out with their other friends in their homes and outside as its easy to get succumbed to the peer pressure and get involved in activities that are forbidden as per the teachings imparted by the parents.
Getting involved in Drugs
Drugs are one of the most major problems that are being faced by American families and parents of kids who are in high school and colleges. This is not just a Muslim problem however for Muslim parents this is absolutely not acceptable not just because of religious reasons but also from culture and health perspective.
School districts in America have been working hard in educating kids and parents on the dangers of drug addiction and the problems that it may bring to health and kids career however it still remains one of the worst epidemics that is hurting the American society.
For Muslim parents as well it’s important to have proper communication with their kids on this topic and always keep an eye on any abnormal behavior. While kids may demand privacy on their belongings it may be okay to do random raids while they are away to look for any red flags. Ethical issues with intrusion into your kid’s privacy and belonging are far less than the dangers of them getting exposed to drug addiction.
Guns and Violence
Gun violence has increased over the past decade or so and this is not just a Muslim problem. Incidents of the mass shooting in schools, colleges, and public places have increased and most of these violent activities have been performed by young high school kids between the age of 16 and 19.
The rise of violent video games has also been a contributing factor along with soft gun regulations. Easy availability of automatic rifles with minimal background checks has been a topic for media, politicians, and lawmakers.
This problem also impacts the Muslim parents of high school going young kids who may be vulnerable to getting involved in these unlawful activities. While from a statistical perspective not many Muslim families own gun however they are still surrounded by homes in the neighborhood that may have guns at home for self-protection and for cultural reasons.
When Muslim kids go to visit their friends in the neighborhood or from school, parents do not know which of those families own guns and they are always worried and paranoid about their kids becoming a victim of gun violence in homes having guns. Although there isn’t much, Muslim parents can do about it other than be well informed about where their kids go and who they meet.
Abstain from Pork and Non-Halal Food
Abstaining from Pork has been instructed in the Quran and it is one of the important Islamic law that Muslims in America and around the world follow. Without getting into the essence and wisdom of why it is prohibited in Islam, for Muslims its an important code of instruction that they follow whether living in the US or any other predominantly Non-Muslim country in the world.
When Muslim teenage kids visit their Non-Muslim friends home or hang out with them outside they need to be guided in advance to be able to have the self-restraint to watch for food items that are made of Pork or Non-Halal ingredients. Proper teaching and communication at home would benefit when kids mingle with their Non-Muslim friends who may not have similar dietary restrictions.
There are many Hindu, vegan or Jewish families who have their own guidelines on food that they can consume and hence there is much more acceptability in the American society around the dietary restrictions that people may follow due to their religious and cultural beliefs.
- Establish Islamic practices at home by performing the preaching through actions. Do not expect your kids to pray, fast or follow Islamic teachings if the parents do not do the same.
- Put them in the Sunday or full-time Islamic School so that they can learn about their religious teachings and values.
- Continuously communicate with them while they are growing up and keep an eye on where they go and what they do.
- Take them to the mosque to pray and listen to the lectures from renowned scholars in the community.
- Establish their relationship with the extended family like grandparents, uncles, and aunts. If the extended family is not in America then establish family relationships with other Muslim friends having kids of the same age as yours.
- Encourage them to join Young Muslim youth organizations that could provide an alternative to youth entertainment and activities over the weekend.
- Last but not least pray for their future to be good human beings, Muslims and positive ambassador of their faith and culture in this country.
While some suggestions we have made could become an effective tool, this is not an exhaustive list. At the end of the day, parents need to do their best to protect their children from losing their faith and culture and to protect them from the evils of society.
I have known Muslims who have been raised and educated in a Muslim country, have eventually gone astray from their religion and identity after spending the majority of their youth living in a Muslim dominant country. Point is that in an environment that is contrary to your values and faith, it is very challenging to preserve the identity and while parents should do their best, sometimes things are destined to be and you cannot control the destiny if kids, as they grow up into adults, take decisions and follow lifestyle that may violate the values and education that you imparted. Do the best you can and pray for the best but don’t blame yourself if things don’t turn out as expected.