Dealing With A Difficult Teen
I was researching online one day, when I came across some answers to a problem I was facing as a parent - namely that my teen wasn't listening to me. One forum I visited, had some great advice from various anonymous moms and I felt that their wisdom was too good not to share with others.
On the forum, a mother was pleading for advice in dealing with her disobedient teenage daughter and asked:
"Assalam u alaikum brothers and sisters, my daughter has reached the age of 14 and is very disobedient. She swears at me and does not listen to me. She also talks to boys at school and on the phone. This is greatly distressing me and causing me to become ill. Please is there anything I can do or read, such as duas or supplication? I hope Allah SWT gives everyone a long life ameen."
Parent one answered...
Dear Sister, I too have a 14-year-old daughter. It can be confusing knowing how to continue to raise someone who is almost an adult, but Allah SWT is Most Merciful. Alhamdulillah, my daughter has not gone down the road of becoming disrespectful or interacting with boys. However, I did begin to see a problem with her attitude and her grades when she first started high school this year. All Praise is due to Allah SWT as all is now improved after some changes I have made with her. I am going to share them with you and hope they help you and your daughter as well InshaAllah.
1. Change yourself before you expect change in your child
Be the woman you want your daughter to be. Make sure you make your salaah, read Quran, and fast. If you want your daughter to be respectful, make sure you show her how respectful you are towards your own mother and others. Include your daughter in your Ibadah. Pray with her. Read with her. Explain things to her. Share with her your love of Islam and hopefully inshallah, she’ll grow to enjoy this about you and the time you spend with her. Make sure you don’t interact with men in a way you don’t want your daughter to. Show her that it’s superior to do things in an Islamic way than how she sees things in school, movies, and on TV. Which leads to #2.
2. Avoid or limit and monitor TV
I don’t allow my daughter to just go watch TV anymore. She never watches it during the school week, as I found that she rushed through her work to get time to watch something. Without that distraction, she takes her time to do her work as she has nothing else to do. Also, I sit with her and only allow her to watch certain programs – mostly education documentaries and historical movies based on fact. I always interject an Islamic perspective into whatever is going on and explain how Allah SWT has power over all things.
3. Remove radio/CDs/MP3/iPod etc.
I found that my daughter had a radio in her room, and had radio access on her cell phone. I took the radio away, and I take the cell phone from her when she gets home from school. Music mostly talks disrespectfully about women, sex, or fairy tale romantic relationships. Girls and boys can get caught up in fantasizing about these things from music, and forget the reality – that these ways are haram, and marriage that Allah SWT has ordained for us as a lawful relationship, is better than what is being sung about.
4. Remove cell phone except for contact with the parents while on the way to and from school
My daughter made new friends and was calling them. Alhamdulillah, they were girls, but I still wasn’t okay with her talking with them when she needed to be doing homework, and I didn’t know their characters. I give her the cellphone when she leaves for school, I take it when she gets home, and check it every day. I haven’t really had to check it lately, and sometimes I let her keep it, just to see what she does. Then I check it later, along with the phone bill, and alhamdulillah, she’s not going against my rules – she’s only using it to call me to tell me she made it to school okay, and after school to let me know she’s on her way home.
If your daughter won’t comply, you could disconnect her cell phone and get her a “firefly” phone. They’re phones for children that only have 4 numbers stored that they can call, and they’re pre-paid, so children can only call say, their mom, dad, etc. and no one else. I also don’t think they can receive calls from anyone other than those people. That was going to be my choice if my daughter didn’t comply with the cell phone use restrictions.
5. Talk with your daughter about marriage
Yes, I know she’s 14 and not ready for marriage. My own daughter can only make scrambled eggs and doesn’t even know how to do her own hair, lol. However, those “little crushes” eventually grow up into “big crushes” and a need for a relationship. I explained to my daughter that these feelings are normal, but there is a reason for them – for us to marry and have a family inshallah. I told her that she is not going to date, but if she begins to feel that she would like to start thinking about possibly finding a groom, I would do what I could to help her inshallah.
I also asked her that the stronger she feels for someone, doesn’t she eventually think about marriage? She said, “yes.” As most girls hope for the person they like to want to marry them. I told her that if she fosters crushes, they will just lead to heartbreak, because, they will probably just use her for sex, and even if they wanted to marry her, she can’t marry them as her marriage won’t be valid unless he is Muslim. She understands this and I feel that she is even more comfortable with the idea of marriage than she was before.That is all that I have for now. I hope and pray that Allah SWT will help and guide you and your daughter through this difficult time. Ameen. P.S. Out of all I wrote, I find #1 to be most important.”
Parent two answered...
“JazakAllah for the awesome advice sister, I would also recommend that you send your daughter to learn an alima course. I attended a wedding once, of a female graduate of the alima course and her aunt was telling my mom how this girl is so thankful to her parents for sending her there when they did. She was 14 at the time and out of control, disobedient, mingling with boys etc. etc. so her parents sent her to learn Islam. She stayed in the company of pious people, was influenced by the good company she had in the other female students, and changed herself as she learned the alim course. Now, masha’Allah she is a totally different person, mother of 2 and a teacher of Islam herself.”
Parent three answered...
“MashaAllah great advice sister, we’re living in a world where we are exposed to all types of fitnah, and teenagers are more prone to these temptations and peer pressure. It’s the duty of all parents to teach tarbiyyah to their kids and to think up ways to create an Islamic alternative for their kids. If you restrict them from things they see their friends doing without explaining to them what is halal and what is not, they will rebel and be disobedient. Mothers should value the time they have with their daughters, be a close companion to them, keep in tune with what’s going on in the environment their kids are exposed to and keep an Islamic environment in the home.
If you can, become your daughter’s confidant and get involved in activities that she likes and which do not breach the Deen. Allow her to keep good friendships and befriend the parents of those friends, take her out with her friends, allow her to have halal fun. Just be a “cool mum” with Deen as a priority. I’m sure that when she has a problem and needs advice, inshallah she will come to you first, and she will think twice before breaking your trust. May Allah SWT make it easy for all of us and help all Muslim parents to do the correct tarbiyah of their kids and resolve all issues they may be facing, ameen.”
Parent four answered...
“I am sorry to hear about your situation. You have received some good advice. May Allah guide your family and us all inshallah. You thought you were over the hard part: Changing nappies and being kept awake throughout the night by your crying baby, dealing with an uncontrollable two-year old ‘monster’. But now comes the really hard part: coping with a rebellious, often rude and obnoxious, teenager. Teach them from an early age about Allah, the Prophets, the Sahaba, and the great heroes of Islam. If we develop in them a love for Islam and provide them with pious examples for their heroes, they will be much less likely to go astray. A person wants to be like his heroes. Be very careful about your child’s friends. During the teenage years, children often care more about what their friends say than what their parents or elders say. According to a Hadith,
“Man is upon the path of his intimate friend; so let each look to whom he takes as a friend.”
It’s essential from an early age that we try to get our children involved with good kids. Encourage children to participate in wholesome religious, social, and sports activities. Bored teenagers are more likely to look for excitement in the wrong place. If teenagers’ lives are full of good and exciting things to do, they will not have the time or the desire to get involved in bad things. If we haven’t done so already, now’s a good time to let kids become part of the family decision-making process. If teenagers feel they have the right to make some decisions and even to help make the family’s decisions, they will not feel that they have to rebel against an oppressive family that is always telling them what to do.”
Parent five answered...
“Asalaam wr wb sister, I am very saddened to hear your story, and it pains me very much. Unfortunately, this is very apparent in our societies today. Perhaps your story will serve as wake-up call for those Muslim parents who still have time to make a commitment to devote every effort and spare no expense to give their children a rigorous Islamic education and upbringing, as is the duty of every Muslim parent. I heard somewhere that some parents begin saving for their children’s college expenses while they are infants. Why don’t we start planning for something more important for them at this age – our child’s afterlife. Every mother and father should make a realistic assessment of their environment, and make efforts to bolster their children’s Islamic future by ensuring:
The children receive appropriate Islamic Tarbiyyah in the home, including learning the basics of belief, Aqeedah, Oneness of Allah, Stories of the Sahabah and Prophets. The parents and children should have daily ta’leem together. Parents should settle in communities that have strong Islamic education, Islamic schools, and religious youth programs. Parents should not be harsh to children. Harshness is not the Prophetic Sunnah, and it will lead to the children associating Islam with harshness. Kids need to be educated with kindness, not forced to follow traditions. Knowledge is the key to ignorance. Try to win your daughter’s heart by teaching her what you know about the Oneness of Allah, the afterlife, the realization that we are created to worship Allah, and that death will overtake us sooner than we expect. Try to slip her some books about righteous women in Islam.
Never give up on your daughter as this may be a trial for you from Allah so that he may test you. Allah mentions in the Qur’an about not letting your children put you off from worshiping Him. If they do not listen then it will be their loss and do not give up. And whatever you do, practice patience and do things with wisdom and not anger, because you may risk your daughter rebelling further! Make dua in the last portion of the night which is the third part of the night (Tahajjud), begging Allah to guide your daughter and to make her obedient to you and Allah. Remind her that Allah is Merciful and tell her about the Greatness of Allah and the beauty of Islam, and that Allah will be so happy if she’s obedient to him and her parents, more than the happiness of a destitute traveler who lost his mount and provisions in a vast desert when suddenly his mount returns to him. We ask Allah to set our affairs straight and make our last words when we leave this world laa Illaha Illa Allah and save us from the fitnah and trials. Ameen.”
Alhumdulillah I was inspired by these moms and realized that I had forgotten many of the lessons in my despair. It is always wonderful to hear the wisdom and experience from others. May Allah reward them for their invaluable advice which will benefit many inshAllah. Sometimes we get so caught-up in wanting to be our teenager's friend, that we forget to be their parent. Setting boundaries with your teen is not being cruel, it's being caring. Remember that our children are an amanah (trust) from Allah SWT and they belong to Him, so our duty as parents is to help them for a time to stay on the straight path.
Parents who indulge their kids and feel that their teens need to "experience real life" are not doing their children any favors. Children first need to be taught the Quran and Sunnah before being sent off into the world - at least then they are equipped to grab the good and discard the bad. Also, most teens are not mentally mature to make wise choices and need their parents help keep them grounded.
I've mentioned to my teens that it does not perturb me if they grumble and groan about not getting to do whatever they want, because I know one day inshallah they will realize what they were saved from and that our intentions where pure. As parents, it's not about how well we feed, clothe, or buy our kids the latest gadgets, rather it's about keeping our kids on the siratul mustaqueem (the straight path), to live a life that's pleasing to Allah, and reside together in an eternal Jannah inshallah. May Allah SWT grant us righteous children who will be the coolness of our eyes, ameen.