Being a parent of a teenager isn’t an easy task. It often comes with a lot of challenges. Dealing with hormones, attitudes, and their fight for autonomy is a common experience across many households. Allaah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful says, “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say, ‘we believe,’ and will not be tested?” (29: 2)
This ayah reminds us as parents why it is imperative to ask Allaah (azza wa jal) to protect our children from harm, kufr, and an inclination towards jahil actions. We must also keep in mind that the behaviors we see from our children is a manifestation of what was already written by Allaah. Therefore, although we plan, Allaah is the best of planners.
In Surah Al-Anfal, Allaah, the Exalted says, “And know that your children are but a trial and that surely with Allaah is a mighty reward.” (8: 28)
As parents, we do the best we can in order to circumvent the trials that we seek protection from. However, the best measure that we can take in addition to making duaa for our children on a consistent basis, is providing Tarbiyyah in our homes.
Every Ramadhaan we are provided with a great opportunity to focus on the marvels of our Creator, we increase in ibaadah, and we seek Allaah’s forgiveness. We are reminded about why we were created, and how the Qur’aan was revealed to mankind.
When children are young, they observe the rituals of Ramadhaan - the meals for iftar, masajid full of Muslims, families coming together for celebration, and Eid. Some younger children like to participate in fasting like they see their older siblings and parents do. Providing incentives, and positive words for younger children who attempt to fast, even if for part of the day, is a great way to encourage children to develop this habit so that it becomes easier when they reach adolescence.
There is a greater chance of positive outcomes when we cultivate our children when they are young. For example, parents who cultivate the habit of fasting when their children are young, lay a foundation to be followed when their children reach adolescence. Conversely, homes where there is a lack of education and action related to the rituals of Ramadhaan, foster disconnections in ibaadah for children who later develop into teens.
It is important as parents to help our children understand Ramadhaan when they are small. It is equally important to avoid making Ramadhaan difficult for them when they reach adolescence. We must keep in mind that we cannot expect for children to suddenly pray, fast, and stay away from things that are not beneficial when they were not trained since childhood with these habits.
This does not mean that all hope is lost. If these habits were not encouraged in childhood, they can be discussed with our children even in adolescence. The reminder benefits even the adult. In the months leading up to Ramadhaan, like the month of Shaban, we can use this time to sit with our teenagers to teach them the importance of Ramadhan and the rituals needed to get closer to Allah.
It is so important to set boundaries with our teenagers. We must monitor what they do on a regular basis so that things don’t become harder for them later on. Helping our teenagers make good choices and maintain balance is key. If you allow children to watch whatever they want on TV, listen to music, and play inappropriate video games on a 24-hour basis, how can you expect for them to cut these behaviors during Ramadhaan? This sets them up for failure. Teenagers can go through withdrawal symptoms just as any adult who engages in similar behaviors. These addictive habits are hard to break and can lead to discord in our homes. Therefore, it is incumbent upon parents to facilitate the month with ease and not make things difficult.
Setting goals with our teenagers at the start of Ramadhaan is a great way to foster autonomy. We can guide them to identify goals that they would like to carry out during the month. One great way of doing so is creating mini-challenges which can serve to motivate them throughout the month. Also, having discussions about the importance of Ramadhaan and why it is essential to our purpose as believers is another great way to educate our teenagers.
Create fun activities that connects to the interest of your teen. Involve them in the initial planning and prepping of Ramadhaan and continue throughout the month. Have them help make the month meaningful and relevant in your household by planning activities that keeps them engaged. Spending quality time with your teenager is essential. If they do not seem like they want to be bothered, be patient, yet consistent.
In addition, try to select regular times during the day or evening to read Qur’aan together. Have a game night, ask them to help prepare a meal for Suhoor or Iftar, and/or ask them to assist in planning Eid al-fitr festivities. You could also involve them in helping to disseminate Zakat al-fitr, and ask their opinion about other ways to give sadaqah.
It’s important to engage our teenagers with beneficial things, so that they do not become distracted by things that bring no benefit which is a plot of Shaytaan. This is why it is important to help them truly grasp the importance of Ramadhan which can aid in purifying their actions.
If they don’t understand these central concepts, then it becomes harder for them to fast. Nonetheless, be patient and remind them to stay on top of their prayers, participate in tawareeah, and read Qur’aan regularly.
One thing that we must remember as believers, and specifically as parents, is that Jannah is surrounded by difficulties, whereas the hellfire is surrounded by things that may seem appealing to teens. We raise our children to be aware about what is haraam, but we forget to emphasize what is halal. As a result, our teenagers often focus on what they are deprived of, instead of seeing the beauty and benefit in the things that are permissible to them. We must constantly remind them of opportunities that come from halal actions that Allaah, in His infinite wisdom, has made easy for us.
From the Editors:
If you would like to hear more words of benefit from Mustafa George about how to make Ramadhaan a benefit for teenagers, listen to an excerpt of his lecture, “Don’t Make Ramadhaan Difficult for Your Children” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRWAbP0e6xw.