We often live our dreams through our kids because we want what’s best for them in life. We want them to accomplish what we didn’t as kids. They need to be the star athlete in a sport we love, or be the Honor Roll student or be an Alim when it comes to understanding and practicing faith.
The challenge is we as parents often confuse discipline and setting expectations with parental bullying. Yes, you are reading this correctly. Parental Bullying.
As parents we set guard rails for our kids and set expectations to ensure they become successful in life. The challenge is when setting up those expectations cross over into bullying a child into following an edict. Parental Bullying is when parents aggressively impose expectations on a child in a way that makes the child feels less of themselves. Where their self esteem takes a hit because of the way the expectation is being imposed.
Example, there is a difference in the way to tell a child to pray. One way is to show the child how to pray and teach them how to connect with Allah(swt) with prayer. The Parental Bullying approach would be to talk down to the child and make them feel less as a person for not praying.
There are many reasons why a parent may bully their child to follow an expectation but often times there is a sense of guilt by the parent(s). A guilt for not being able to achieve an expectation that was imposed on them and to free oneself of this guilt, the parent(s) impose those goals onto their kids.
What issue does this cause?
In our current environment, we have kids that are dealing with Islamophobia at school and now when the kids come home, they face another issue where parents are imposing religious expectations (by bullying) on them not realizing what is being faced at school.
So outside of school kids are being picked on for being Muslim and in the home kids are being pushed on not being Muslim enough. Hence the identity crises in many cases for our kids.
The result, the child starts to isolate himself/herself and is then susceptible to outside influences that often times do not align with your values as a parent. Kids don’t open up to parents on the issues they are facing outside the home because they are dealing with issues on why they aren’t living up to their parents expectations.
As time goes on this distance starts to grow more and more and when the child gets older leads to complete rebellion against his/her parents.
Now, the point of this article isn’t saying to ease up on the Islamic teachings. Rather the point is to remind us that kids are in a challenging environment as they are being bombarded with many different issues. Unfortunately, Islamaphobia has increased in schools and kids are getting confused on how to handle this issue. As parents, it is important to review expectations and ensure kids understand why these expectations are in place. Teach faith in a way where their hearts are connected to Allah(swt). Once the hearts are connected the rest comes naturally. Also, before we teach our kids to connect with Allah(swt), we need to make sure that as parents we connected as well.
Don’t live a dream of what you want to be, rather live the example of what you should be; from there the rest becomes easier inshaAllah.