What does it take for parents to get a teen to become a practicing Muslim?
After talking to parents, Scholars, activists and Muslims who have grown up in the West to ask what are some practical things parents can do to help Muslim teens maintain their Deen. These are some of their suggestions:
Tip 1: Take parenting more seriously than you would a full-time job
This means both parents must understand their children are a trust from Allah, and He will ask how they were raised. If the children do not grow up practicing Islam because of their parents’ negligence, it is not going to be pretty in this life or the next.
Tip 2: Reduce or change work hours and exchange them for time with the family
It is better to have one full-time job, fewer luxuries in the house (i.e. more cars, expensive clothes, a bigger, fancier home) and more time with the family, than many material things and absent parents. This goes for mothers and fathers. Parents can’t instill values in their children if they just aren’t there. Quit that extra job on the weekends or in the evenings and instead drive the kids to the mosque for Majalis and activities instead. Or consider switching shifts at work so that you’re home when the kids are.
Tip 3: Read the Quran, understanding its meaning, for five minutes every day
Just five minutes. Whether it’s in the car during a traffic jam, early morning after Fajr, or right before you go to bed, read the Quran with a translation and/or Tafseer. Then watch the snowball effect. You will, Insha Allah(God willing), reconnect with Allah, and in the long run, develop into a role model helping your whole family, not just your teen, reconnect with Him too.
Tip 4: Respect your teen
Respecting your teen means not treating them like inept babies, but like maturing adults, not talking down to them or humiliating and insulting them. It means involving them in useful activities around the home and seeking their opinions on matters of importance.
Tip 5: Take an interest in what they do Does Ihsan collect stamps? See if you can find old letters from your parents and pass the stamps on them to her. Does Muhsin love building websites? Visit his site, post a congratulatory e-mail on the message board and offer some suggestions for the site. Give him a book on advanced web design as Eid(holy-day) gift.
Tip 6: Be aware of problems and address them straightforwardly
Tip 7: "Date" your teenager
While dating is commonly associated with boy-girl social(legal) meetings, the concept can be extended to any meeting between two people wanting to get to know each other better.
It’s especially important to "date" your children on an individual level once they hit their teens because they are no longer just "one of the kids". They are young adults who need attention and guidance on an individual level. You can go out on a "date" when Sumayya graduates from high school (instead of going to the prom), when Ahmed gets his driver’s license or if you feel there is something bothering them and you want to address them alone.
Tip 8: Don’t just be your teen’s parent, be his or her partner
Making them a partner means giving them responsibilities within the family. Get 16 year old Ali, who just got his driver’s license, to help his mom with grocery shopping on Saturday’s; get 15 year old Jasmine, who loves flowers, to be responsible for the garden and mowing the lawn. This way, teens will feel a part of the family, included and needed.
Tip 9: Build a Masjid(or Hussaynieh) in your home
Delegate a room, part of the basement or the living room as the home Masjid.
Make this Masjid entirely the responsibility of the kids. Get the eldest to be in charge and to delegate responsibilities for younger siblings, Responsibilities include keeping the Masjid clean, waking people up for Fajr, calling the Adhan, etc.
Tip 9: Don’t practice "men’s Islam"
That means don’t exclude wives or daughters from prayers. When the men are praying in Jamaah, make sure the women are either behind them or also praying in congregation. Make sure the Imam recites the prayer loud enough for the women to hear if they are in another part of the house. Also, encourage women to pray in Jamaah if there are no men present.
Tip 10: Establish an Islamic library and choose a librarian
Equip your home with an Islamic library with books, video and audio cassettes about various aspects of Islam, catering to everyone’s age and interests. If your 13-year-old son likes adventure novels, for example, make sure you have a couple of Islamic adventure books.
Gather the books about Holy Quran, and the Holy prophet and Ahlul Bayt's seerah and biographies, as much as you can.
Get one of your teens to be the librarian. S/he keeps materials organized and in good condition. Any requests for materials to be added to the collection have to go through him or her. Give this librarian a monthly budget for ordering new books, cassettes, etc.