Why Are Teenagers Hard To Deal With - And What Can You Do?

First part, which is general advice on raising teenagers, one of the things you begin to notice about your child is when they go from being a child to becoming a teenager, they start being a little or, not a little, but a lot more aloof from their parents. So your son was a chatterbox, was always talking fast and you had to keep stopping him. You find now he's quiet and everything you ask him his answer is a single word. Just yes, no, no yes. And he's always sullen. Right? And your daughter was always wanting to do things with you. Now she doesn't want to go shopping with you anymore. Right? She wants to stay at home. They want to stay in their own room. They want to keep their door closed.

Some of us, as parents, become alarmed by this. What's happening to my child? Right? And we want them somehow not to become like that and to still remain the way they were. But actually, it's very natural and it's in fact, very important for kids to break away from their parents at this age. And this emotional separation actually helps them to adjust into becoming adults later on. It may be very hard for us to accept this, but it is a natural process and you need to allow that to happen. It is also a very confusing time. Both for the teenager and for you as a parent. when you see these changes.

We normally talk of terrible twos. But in comparison, when you just search over the Internet, talk to psychologists, read books on these, you will hear that the teenage years can actually be the most difficult years because they're not just difficult for you as a parent, they're difficult for the child as well, unlike when the child is two. But there's plenty, as I said, we can do to nurture our teenagers and give them some guidance so that they move in the right direction.

The first thing that is happening is these physical changes happening in their bodies, both for male and female, these things happening in their bodies that is now signaling to them that they're now becoming adults. And with this dramatic change, they're confused because they're now feeling the pressure of behaving different, being an adult, but they can't still because their thought process hasn't evolved as quickly. So the first thing they start doing is they start becoming conscious of their peers, meaning the other teenagers around them, and they want to fit in.

It's not like us when we are in our 40s or 50s. We really don't care if we fit in with others, right? We are quite happy doing our own thing. If somebody thinks we are handsome or beautiful or doesn't think so, it doesn't matter. Right? As long as I'm comfortable. So you kind of get comfortable in your own skin as you grow older. But when you're a teenager, it's very, very important for the teenager to fit in society and with peers.

So there's a lot of that pressure. And one of the things they don't want to see is that I'm still a child under the shadow of my parent. So they don't want to be seen with you. And that's why you find them, you know, showing this embarrassment of you being around them when they're with their friends or sitting with you at the mosque. You know? When they are little they'll sit on your lap, they'll sit beside you. As they grow older they don't want to be seen with you. But you also want them to come to the mosque. Right? So we're going to be talking a little bit about this.

And for teenagers, sometimes, their peers are more important than their parents in their decision making process, which is why their friends are very, very important. And which is why madrassa is very important, because sometimes parents think, you know what? I can impart the religious knowledge of the madrassa myself at home. Right?

I'll give you my own example. I've got a six year old in the madressa. I wrote the curriculum and the notes for the madressa, right? So I could teach him at home. Whatever I put together for the madressa. It's been improved upon, it has been edited. Right? But I have the material. I can do this myself. I don't need to send him to the madressa. But there is something he gets from the madressa that I can't give him, which is the friends circle that he builds, the peers that he builds.

It doesn't matter so much now, but when he's a teenager, who is he going to play basketball with? Who is he going to hang out with? Who is she going to be going shopping with? Who is she going to share ideas with? And so on. When they're in trouble, who are they going to talk to? So it's very important that you allow them to build a healthy friendship and social circle that will become their peers who have the kind of values you want them to have, so that even if they don't take certain values from you, they take from their friends, it is still of good value.

You will find that your teenagers, as they start becoming teenagers, they're trying and experimenting different things. They want to try different hairstyles, they want to dress differently. They want a different identity. And that is, again, because they're trying to find themselves. They're trying to build an identity for themselves. They don't want to stand out from the crowd to be embarrassed or to be laughed at. But they also don't want to disappear in the crowd.

They want to be a trendsetter. They want to do something unique and different that makes them special. They thrive on compliments, on praise, on admiration. Right? When you walk into the mosque, you just walk in anywhere and sit. When they walk in they are very conscious. They are thinking everybody's looking at me, when in fact nobody is, right? But they're very self-conscious.

So our goal is to help our child to become a caring, independent and responsible adult, and that includes being a responsible Muslim.

Now, the first advice that I can share, just in general, about teenagers and this is perhaps the most important, is we need to be role models. We cannot expect very, very good children if we ourselves don't have those very, very good values and, you know, ethics and morals that we want them to have. Because you can fool a young child, but with teenagers, they're watching your actions more than they're listening to your words. So this is extremely critical.

For example, when they hear you interacting with others, do you lie? Because they know the truth. If you're telling someone something that's a lie, they have the inside perspective. If you're lying, they might not call you out on that. But you have given them a value that it's OK to lie once in a while. Do you cheat others? They will find out. Do you break your promise? Do you make a commitment to others and then you don't keep your promise?

Do you swear? So you're in the car with them. You're driving some small incident of road rage. You know? Suddenly there is all these four letter words being exchanged. If you swear you cannot expect them not to be using foul language. Do you pray on time? If in your home, you know, praying salaat on time is not important you cannot lament when they're much older to say my child doesn't want to come to the mosque, praying, doesn't want to pray, this and that. It's easier for them to slip once they start going to university, because if you give them very, very strong values, you can expect it to water down and become just strong or good values.

But if you give them just good values, there is a danger of it deteriorating and watering down when they're on their own, when they get busier with university and work and life and so on. Sometimes little things, for example, do you as a parent have a habit when you start eating you say Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Rahim loudly. For your own self, not just I want him to hear. When you start your car, do you say Bismillah, Al-Rahman, Al-Rahim. You know, put these little habits, introduce them while your child is younger and you will be surprised. They might not do it as a teenager. They might not do it in their twenties, but when they are in their forties, it'll come back to you.