Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Raising Mini-Adults: Expecting Too Much, Too Soon from Kids

toomuchpressure
The Prophet (saw) said,
He is not of us who does not have mercy on young children… (Tirmidhi)
Are you pushing your child to grow up too fast, into what I like to refer to as a “mini-adult”?
In this article, we will focus on a newly emerging phenomenon: the raising of mini-adults.

The Pressure Cooker

There is a lot of pressure in Western society for kids to grow up quickly, and learn more, faster. In addition to educational and societal pressures, there is also an ever-increasing pressure on kids to take on more responsibilities and adult-like behaviors earlier in their lives than ever before.
Do you remember what it was like to be a kid? I do, my days consisted of uninterrupted playtime, summers of swimming and playing games with my friends in my backyard…simple and unstructured fun.
I did not feel hurried on a daily basis, nor did I take on more than the responsibilities of any normal kid.
What I really appreciate about my mom, now that I’m a mom myself, is that she allowed me to just be a kid.
Nowadays, we see children – not teens – acting like little adults. Wearing make-up, revealing clothing…or on the opposite end of the spectrum we see some parents in our own Muslim communities requiring their children to wear jilbâbs and hijabs, everywhere, daily.
While, it is a good practice to get your child into the groove of the Islamic lifestyle and prepare young girls for adulthood and, most definitely, to practice modesty…it is going way too far to make wearing abâyas, khimârs, jilbâbs and hijabs a mandatory dress code for children before they reach the age of puberty.
Doing so is a hindrance on their ability to be kids. Children should be able to be carefree and not be required to “cover”. Some may say, “I am preparing my daughter for her life.” And, to that, I say: “Your child will learn by your own example….and that of her sister, aunt, grandmother and cousins (if they cover).”
It is almost like we want to push our children into more than what they are responsible for, too early for their own good.
I once noticed a sister exiting a masjid one afternoon harshly reprimand her four-year-old daughter for allowing her hijab to come loose and her hair to show.
I thought, “show” to whom exactly? She was only four.
On another occasion, I witnessed a father scold his five-year-old son for eating something off of the table before ifṭâr.
Seeing these episodes always made me wonder what affect they would have on those children. Rather than Ramadan being a joyous occasion, would he remember his childhood and be resentful? Or, in the case of the little girl, would she grow up and be bitter about covering so early in her life and attempt to re-live the freedom lost in her childhood as an adult woman and shed her scarf? May Allah forbid!
There are already more than enough pressures on children today that we do not have to add to them by forcing them to take on more.
Islam has prescribed the time of adolescence as a coming of age for Islamic attire and fasting, and – after that time – this will be the time for obligations to be observed.
As adults, we should be able to look back at, and fondly reminisce about, our childhood, which can and should include dressing up in special clothes to go to the masjid – or trying to fast the entire day as a young child…but, not forcibly so.
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