Communication with Teen, Tips
If We Want To Talk The Talk, We Must Walk The Walk
Alhamdulilah for the blessings of parenthood. With that blessing comes a lot of responsibility on our part to raise our children to be good Muslims. This starts by communicating our values from the time our children are babies until they become teens. Many parents realize children need to have limits as soon as they are able to communicate their needs. Parents establish bedtimes, household rules and procedures. We also establish, whether we realize it or not, the way we communicate with our children. In some households, we give decrees that must be followed. As our kids become teens, it is hard for us to relinquish our control over them and to begin to treat them like young adults. Some of us forget how to communicate effectively and we must foster an atmosphere of love and mutual respect. We forget that our children have feelings just like we do and we need to empower them, not demoralize them. When parents communicate they must do so through example. Hence the expression, if you want to talk the talk, you must walk the walk. Remember, it is not what we say, it is what we do, that our teens are watching. Unless we establish this form of positive communication, our teens will not listen to anything we say.
Give Good Advice based on the Quran and Sunnah
Teens need to be raised seeing the deen in action so they don’t lose faith in Allah’s vast mercy. If parents practice what they preach, teens will listen. With that said we need to remind ourselves and our teens to stay steadfast and to strive to be good people. The best advice for teens as well as adults lies in the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, Peace be Upon Him.
Teens are dealing with a lot of struggles in their daily lives. They are exposed to many values that go against the teachings of Islam. Our teens are the odd people within their peer groups because they are not dating, drinking, using drugs, etc. With that said, how many of our teens have been influenced by peer pressure and have engaged in these acts? Having lived in the US since I was six years old, I can speak from experience on how hard it is to grow up in the midst of a society that is sending messages that are conflicting to our religious values. It is hard when a teen hears that dating is haram and everyone around him/ her is doing just that. It is becoming commonplace that of our teens lead dual lives, acting one way within the context of the family and the Muslim community and behaving in a completely different way within the context of the non-Islamic community. As parents, we must help our teens develop a positive mindset and we must open the lines of communication not just when they are having problems but also to communicate everything they encounter on a daily basis. We need to be honest when speaking to our teens. No one was perfect as a teenager, we ourselves are not perfect, and have all made many mistakes as teenagers and continue to do so as adults. How can we scold our teens for mistakes we made ourselves when we were their age?
Actively listen and don’t judge your teen.
Be patient and kind to your teen. Also, be clear, consistent, and reasonable in your expectations of him/her. We don’t need to be rigid in the way we deal with our teens. Situations we encounter in life require us to think outside of the box to resolve them and answers are not always black and white. We should never forget that our teens are human and will make mistakes. They need us to listen without judgement and to offer good advice. They don’t need to be demoralized or scolded for the same mistakes we all made when growing up. When our teens see that we love them unconditionally and are here for them, they will open up to us and discuss whatever is on their minds. If our teens do not feel comfortable communicating their feelings without fear of judgement, they simply will not communicate with us. From personal experience, I know it takes a lot of practice to not pass judgement and say hurtful things to our teens, As parents we need not be emotional in order be listen objectively and communicate with our teens. Of course this is easier said than done. We are so worried about our teens and afraid of them making mistakes that we sometimes get very emotional and wind up saying things we later regret. We have to remember to be calm, non-judgmental, and positive at all times. Also, we need to empower our teens to make good decisions based upon the Quran and the Sunnah, The Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him, about tawwakul is an excellent example. He (SAW) said what is translated as we must put our faith in Allah but still tie our camel. This means we must make good decisions and put our faith in our Creator to guide us and to help us. Never forget our responsibility to teach our teens to make good decisions while at the same time, leaving all matters to Allah (SWT).
The Importance of having strong role models.
How many parents were lucky enough to have grown up in the midst of a strong extended family full of excellent role models? If so, think about how this has molded you as a teen. Extended family members as well as respected friends and community members are an excellent resource for helping parents communicate with teens. These role models are excellent resources when communication between parents and teens is not at its best. Strong role models can act as counselors to help both parents and teens have open dialogue. They can also listen to teens and offer good advice when teens can’t discuss sensitive issues with their parents. We as parents need to have a network to help one another.
Finally, within our Islamic communities, we need to call upon our professionals to teach us to be more effective communicators. We have many licensed counselors, child psychologists, educators, social workers, and therapists in our communities. We need to call upon them to help us learn more effective ways to communicate with our teens. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child.
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