As Muslim parents, you know that one of the hardest parts of parenting is when mom and dad have different parenting styles, approaches, and ideas. Staying together and unified can feel like reinventing the wheel every time.
This can be even more true in the Muslim community. Spouses may come from different cultures, levels of religious knowledge, practice, and experiences.
Either way, remaining united in the parenting journey is crucial. It’s a huge part of how our Muslim kids learn how to interact cooperatively with each other. Noor Kids’ research has found that parents are a children’s first and most important models.
Below are four strategies to help Muslim parents stay unified. Each actionable tip emphasizes what your Muslim child learns when mom and dad choose the unity strategy.
1 - Master Your “Poker Face”
Ever counted to 10 silently inside your own head when what you really wanted to do was let out a big bad scream at a child or spouse? That’s a good deed worth rewarding. You’re mastering your “poker face” parenting superpower. It allows you to stay calm and collected even if your lower self (nafs) is tempting you to act otherwise!
Allah’s Messenger said,
“Allah says, ‘If My slave intends to do a bad deed then (O Angels) do not write it unless he does it; if he does it, then write it as it is, but if he refrains from doing it for My Sake, then write it as a good deed (in his account)….” (Sahih al-Bukhari).
The Prophet was a mercy to all mankind…even those of us who are tempted to be less than perfect parents, spouses, or leaders.
As Muslim parents, we can remember to be merciful to ourselves and others by calling to mind that the Prophet Muhammad was also a spouse, a parent, and a leader.
Despite the stress and responsibilities of these roles, the Prophet showed forgiveness and mercy toward those he lived with in his own home. The mercy he also showed to enemies in the community (like those who killed his uncle), was constant. Through his mercy, all his relationships stayed unified.
All his relationships were touched – and unified – by his characteristic of forgiveness.
When we assume this quality and spread it across our own familial relationships, they too will be unified by this sublime quality.
Shaytan is our open enemy. A strong family is not good in his eyes and he would do anything to weaken it.
2 - Schedule Time to Chat About Differences
One of the reasons we get stuck as Muslim parents is because we’re too busy to get on the same page. But as Muslims, praying some of our five daily salah prayers together as a family helps carve out time to be together.
The Prophet tells us,
“The five daily Salat (prayers) are like a great river running by your door in which you take a bath five times a day” (Sahih Muslim).
Just think, if we take a few minutes to chat or have a simple family meeting after Maghrib salah each evening, our families will be chatting with hearts that were just washed and cleaned.
Scheduling other mom-and-dad only chat times is also critical. It’s a time to calibrate our parenting approaches. It’s also crucial to have regular one-on-one parent-child chats just like Prophet Ya’qub has with his son Yusuf in the Quran (Surah Yusuf, 12:4-5).
3 - Muslim Parents Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Okay, so you’re always the one who re-washes the load of laundry left in the washer. But your spouse might always be the one who remembers to take the car for an oil change, read the bedtime story, or defrost meat for dinner.
It’s true that doing little things over and over again can feel super annoying if you’re not recognized for it. In fact, that’s the reason why research shows that organizations that give regular thanks to their employees outperform those that don’t.
But Allah is All-Knowing and All-Wise. These lofty names are as exalted as they are personal. He is All-Knowing of even the small stuff like the bed you always have to make or the toilet paper roll that your spouse always seems to replace.
He made life full of small stuff, and gave us a solution for it. The Prophet said in an authentic hadith,
“Take on only as much as you can do of good deeds, for the best of deeds is that which is done consistently, even if it is little.”
Release the need to sweat the small stuff; it counts as big stuff for you with God.
4 - Sacrifice for the Whole
So, it’s no secret that raising kids requires a lot of sacrifices that aren’t always fair.
Sometimes moms have breastfeeding issues that dads don’t. But dads might have to trek to work in the early hours despite the broken sleep caused by a crying newborn.
Each one is rewarded greatly by Allah.
Are these “unequal” roles worth holding grudges over? Getting grumpy over sacrifices is tempting (especially when you lack sleep), but it breaks our unity. It’s like winning the battle and losing the war.
Want more ideas about navigating relationships for your kids? Take a peek at How to Help Muslim Kids Navigate Friendships (and Fights).
Perhaps we can look at sacrifices in a new light. Isn’t sacrificing what keeps us unified? Isn’t unity and teamwork all about giving up something for the whole?
God knew that Muslim parents would each give up something for the sake of the whole family unit, however unique that family unit might look.
Interested in exploring the concept of unity with your Muslim child in more detail? Check out Noor Kids’ newest children’s book Getting Along for Good!
A Final Note about Muslim Parents who are Parenting Apart
If you are a divorced or separated co-parent, you know that being a co-parent or single parent has its own unique parenting challenges.
Divorce is on the rise worldwide, and the Muslim community has also seen an increase in divorce rates in recent years (especially in the West). (Note: divorced parents can still be great co-parents!)
Yet no matter what your family structure looks like, the spirit of the strategies in this article as well as other mindful approaches to parenting conflict) can still be considered and applied.
Actions are based on intentions. What counts most when it comes to parenting is doing your personal best for the sake of Allah Most High.
Shaytan does not want families to stay unified in any sense of the word. Simply knowing this can empower us to strive to be more unified as parents, children, and families as we encounter daily temptations to lose our cool.
What creative ways does your family foster unity in order to stay together and strong? Let us know in the comments below!
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