Interview with Dr. Irfan Hyder – Dean CBM & CES, IoBM Institute of Business Management, and Director of L2L Academy and Ahsan Memorial
Let’s say the parents did not focus on establishing a relationship of trust and respect with their children early on. What can they do about it now if they’ve only just realized their mistake?
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Well begun is half done. However, realization, whenever it comes, is a big step. The next step is to take some action. Read some books, such as Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey or How to talk to teens so they listen and how to listen so they talk by Mazlish and Faber, and especially become an embodiment of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (also by Stephen Covey).
In case the teen falls into unacceptable behaviour or pursues impermissible activities such as drinking, abusive language, love affairs, and so on, how should the parents handle this? Should they be firm and disallow it, or should they be soft and counsel him/her?
Go for counselling. Each case is different with different dynamics. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. There are experienced counsellors who can help you. The first thing to change is your own behaviour. I would suggest for parents to first become living examples of the seven habits given by Covey. This will give them the skills to help others. Without these habits in place, a parent may actually do more harm than good. Remember that their behaviour is a reflection of our behaviour. We have to modify our behaviour before we can make any impact on them.
Is there hope for parent-child relationships in such situations at all? What can parents hope to achieve in most cases?
“Mayoosi haram hay.” There is always hope. “Wasta’eeno Bis-Sabri Was-Salah” (seek help in Sabr and Salah). Also remember “wa ma alayna illal bilagh” (our responsibility ends when we have given the message the best way we can). However, even the best of parents will need many conversations. The communication will have to be subtle, and behavioural changes will need to be implemented; it is a long-term intervention. Parents will have to work on themselves too before they get absolved of responsibility in this case, especially when they have realized where they have gone wrong.
Parenting is not just about giving birth to kids. It is also about parents’ growth. The challenges of infants are different from those of toddlers, which are different from those of children, which are different from those of teens, which are different from those of adolescents, which are different from those of adults. As each of these transition stages approach, parents must make an effort to improve themselves and their parenting by reading specific books and undergoing transformational trainings which would enable them to understand and cope with the challenges of the new stage. These books and trainings need to be refreshed every time any of our children enter new stages. We often forget and lose track of what is required at each stage. Stop worrying and start acting.
Interview with Omer Mateen Allahwala – Managing Director, Precision Components; Board Member & C.O.O – Orange Tree Foundation; Youth Guidance Counsellor; Member M3 (Youth Program); V-Team Member, Indus Children Cancer Hospital
What are the top three concerns of youth today?
Having worked closely with the youth, I feel that the following are their main concerns:
- Lack of communication, trust, and understanding with parents
These are the core issues of youth as well as basic ingredients of good parenting. If these core values are lacking in parent-child relationships, the youth will seek other people’s help, which is unfortunate for both the child and the parents. There is no greater comfort for the youth than to have an understanding parent(s), whom he/she can easily communicate with, without any fear of being judged. Every child needs a door to knock on when in trouble. Parents close these doors of communication and then regret it later on when their child gets negative advice from elsewhere with deep and negative repercussions.
Youth will approach their parents with all sorts of issues they are facing but wise parents realize that these situations need careful handling. It is sometimes important for a parent to be firm but it is sometimes more important to work on establishing a foundation of understanding and trust first. The youth may stop coming to their parents, if they realize that no matter what they say or do, they will not be trusted. Children are smart these days; they often know their faults, but they want their parents to trust them regardless. They need to be told every time that if they fail they can get up again, Insha’Allah.
- Negative competition and pressure
The youth face pressure and competition from all sides. Whether it is a race for grades in academics or an actual race on the field, the pressure on the youth is insane. At times, parents focus more on grades and less on their children’s character-building. The youth feel they are being compared with others all the time. Each young person is a different individual who has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. He or she needs constant encouragement and guidance to overcome the flaws.
- Journey towards ambitions
The youth today are extremely ambitious from a very early age. They need their parents to guide them and take them close to their goals. Parents have to act as their children’s academic and guidance counsellors as they understand them better than anyone else.
How do you advise the youth to deal with these concerns?
The youth need to be expressive to their parents. They need to sit down with them and learn to discuss issues in a polite manner. I have seen many discussions ending with ugly arguments because of the harsh tone and words used by the youth. Parents need love and respect. Most of the youth’s problems will be solved if they are respectful, polite, loving, and patient with their parents.
Which three qualities of today’s youth should we nurture in order to see improvement in our Ummah?
The three qualities are:
Youth are pure. If they are properly guided, they can do wonders. For example, if a Masjid is developed and equipped with a library, sports facility (basketball court, etc.), lecture hall, and a scholarly Imam, who can really motivate the youth, it will not only attract the youth of that area but will also put them on the right track, Insha’Allah. We need to chalk out ways to occupy them with constructive things. Youth is sincere and hardworking and usually give their one hundred percent when motivated. They just need good mentors and role models around them.
- Powerhouse of energy
The energy of youth is amazing. If directed towards positive and constructive things, this energy can change the whole society. It is like electricity which can either be used wisely or can just go to waste. This energy can be used in community/ philanthropy work, education, Islamic projects, and recreational activities.
- Abundance of love and emotions
The youth are highly emotional beings. Love and emotions can get attracted towards both evil and good. They need to be understood and dealt with a lot of patience and wisdom. We see the youth performing deeds they are fond of with enthusiasm. Their elders just need to attach them to good things. They can be motivated to go to the Masjid and help the less privileged.
Interview with Salman Asif Siddiqui – Director, ERDC
Suppose parents have missed the train, and the early years were not formed on trust and respect between them and their teenaged kids. What is the first thing that these parents must do upon realization?
Firstly, parents must have the courage to admit their failure or past mistakes. They must admit that they could not understand their child. They will also need to adjust their own temperament.
These parents must do a self-analysis by listing down what went wrong. Unless they bring the log of ‘what went wrong’ on the table, there is no way forward.
There is a simple metaphor for this. Two business partners entered into a business approximately ten years ago. Initially, the trust was intact and their relationship was thriving; however, over a period of time, the trust declined. They both have stakes due to which they cannot part ways. Hence, they are stuck together. Both cannot stand each other. Their trust is faring at zero level. If they part, it will be harmful for both of them.
After ten years or so, one of the senior partners realizes that he needs to take the initiative to fix this relationship. Now, he will have to list the actions that caused the mistrust to begin with. The senior partner will have a one-on-one conversation with his partner (in this case, his child). He will have to explain how his earlier perceptions were different. When the difference in perceptions will be expressed, the severity of reactions will eventually reduce.
He will also have to list down the child’s perceptions and discuss them. These kids are no longer children – they have grown up and become adults who cannot be controlled. They are answerable and accountable for their own actions. Allah (swt) will hold them responsible.
Unless the previous accounts of this business are reconciled and the back log is cleared away, trust will neither be renewed nor re-developed. This talk at the table will have to happen and cannot be avoided.
If they decide to forget the matter and not talk it out, the grudges will not go away. They will keep haunting from the past by hurting the present and the future. These are some generic principles in the science of human relationships. This also applies to relationships between spouses.
Interview with Ustadh Kashif Naseem Dilkusha – Founding member, lead instructor, and the Project Head of Azãn. He also heads Mushkeeza, an NGO.
Which aspects of Islam attract the youth of today?
- The hope Islam gives.
- The fact that Islam is a permissive faith. It allows us to have fun within some parameters.
- The fact that that there is no hierarchy. The care and concern for and the promotion of human rights, the importance of delivering justice to all, and the upholding of the rights of the oppressed.
- This point is especially for the young Muslimahs of today. Women in Islam have a very special place, status, and dignity that was unknown to humanity before the advent of Islam.
What advice would you give to the young and spirited?
Always be in the company of pious people who remind you of Allah (swt) and the Day of Judgement. If you have good company, you will be prosperous in your life. I believe that companionship is the most important thing after Iman. If you have good companionship, all the other good things will automatically be a part of your personality.
Youngsters nowadays have all the fundamental elements of success and excellence. Schools, colleges, universities, and cultural and scientific centres strive to offer the best education. They have the potential to play an important role in the advancement of Islam. The period of adolescence is a very important period in a Muslim’s life. If spent the right way, a person’s youth will not only benefit him but others as well. They must realize their value and importance for the fate of the Ummah lies in their hands.
May Allah (swt) guide and protect us all on the Day of Judgment. Ameen.