Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

This year Ramadan coincides with the first day of school for many families. Realizing that many of our Muslim brothers and sisters do choose the public school system for their kids’ education, this is a resource to help make the best out of Ramadan in public school. This blessed month is such a vital part of being Muslim that enjoying it and sharing it with others, instead of hiding it, goes a long way in maintaining Muslim children’s Islamic identity while attending public school. After the will of Allah, it begins with parental involvement in the lives of their children. You owe it to them.

Elementary School

Send in a letter or email to the school principal and the classroom teacher introducing your family and informing them about Ramadan. This sample letter to your child’s principal includes an offer to come into class and do a presentation on Ramadan.  You can correlate it to the phases of the moon in science especially for first and third graders as it is a part of the curriculum. One year, we did the phases of the moon craft and asked the kids to watch out for the waxing and waning of the moon throughout the month.

To preempt any misunderstanding, meet with the teacher and/or principal and show her your material. For example, the Adam’s World Ramadan DVD is a great resource, so I asked the classroom teacher to preview it beacuse she is more familiar with the school disctrict’s rules; she chose to show the second stanza onwards of thenasheed “We scanned the sky” by Dawud Wharnsby Ali – it was such a hit!! The kids kept asking her to replay it over and over again.

There are several great books on the subject that are perfect for sharing during story-time.

My First Ramadan by Karen Katz – this little book is perfect for preschoolers – 2nd graders and makes a great gift for the class library.  You can mix in a nasheed. It was amazing watching my daughter’s preschool class holding hands in a circle singing along to the chorus of ‘These are the days of Eid.”

Hamza’s First Fast by Asna Chaudhry – I read this book to my daughter’s third grade class, which led to a great discussion where kids of all different faiths talked about how their parents fast too. “Oooh, my mom fasts too, on Lent! Mine fasts to lose weight! We do it too on Yom Kippur” The kids gushed after I finished my presentation. My daughter loved being the center of attention and the discussion was alive for days.

The Three Muslim Festivals is a beautifully illustrated book that has stories of Muslim kids celebrating Ramadan, Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha in a western country. It is a must-have for every Muslim kids’ library, and to educate others, gift it to your school library.

Print out some Ramadan activities for your kid’s classmates to color or crafts that they can make.

Send in Eid gifts – its great dawah. It’s the beginning of the school year; it will break the ice and help your child feel special. Alhamdulillah, the children in our elementary school look forward to being in my kid’s classroom and remember that Zahrah doesn’t celebrate Christmas. They don’t have to be elaborate; pencils, dollar-store toys, chapsticks, ahandmade rendering of their names in Arabic, etc. Attach a tag that says Eid Saeed/Happy Eid.

If your school has a newsletter and the administration wishes the students on their religious holidays then do ask for Muslim holdays to be acknowledged as well.  This little note started the beautiful tradition of wishing Muslim students Happy Eid in our elementary school.

For Middle/Junior High and High School Kids-

Fasting is fardh for most Muslim youth this age. A letter should be sent to the principal, homeroom teacher and especially the P.E. teacher. In this letter, explain your child’s physical and spiritual needs. This sample letter for high school can be adjusted to fit your family.With so many Muslim kids participating in team sports, coachs have to be included in this conversation. They are often concerned out of care and liability issues but a friendly letter or talk can ease their worries.

If your son wants to  follow the example of Muslim atheletes i.e. Hakeem Olajuwon and Husain Abdullah and man up to attending P.E.class, then let them. It is hard being the only guy in class sitting on the sidelines. (My maternal instinct says no way in this 102 degree weather, but  I give this advice based on talks with Muslim teens).

Make sure you make them get up for suhoor – if they are in the pratice of getting up for fajr this should be easy if not, use these tips for waking them up. Have them eat a healthy breakfast, say yes to the smoothies, multi-grain pancakes, oatmeal, and eggs their way. This is not the time to insist on a traditional meal from the home country. Keep them hydrated through the night with a water bottle designated just for your teen at their bedside.

Don’t go back to sleep after fajr – this is a great oppurtunity for family time. Read Quran together. It is one thing to tell your kids “Go read Quran” and quite another to read Quran to each other. They can also study at this time and do homework as well. This frees up the afternoons for dhikr, helping around the house, reading Quran and napping so your teenager is fresh for taraweeh.

Empower your children with information. When they are younger role-play with them so if friends ask them why they are fasting or if they are made fun of, they have some standard answers to give. For high school kids, have honest discussions about Ramadan, its virtues and its spiritual aspects; listen to or watch a lecture together.  They want their whys answered – so talk to them about the psychological aspects, about reflecting on their lives, about cleansing their spirit, about using this time to set up good habits for the rest of the  year.

Ask you teen to go to the library during lunch time or help out a teacher in class. Staying away from the cafeteria helps makes fasting easier.

Urge them to have a good attitude – “If you complain and say I am hungry – that’s just not good dawah and frankly people don’t care or will urge you to eat.” Listening and sharing other Muslim youths’ stories on how they handle Ramadan in school can spark great dialogue between teens, their parents and siblings.

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Its been more than two month since we switched off the cable- but we still have the basic channels, like PBS and ABC. To be honest I miss my favorite shows on Food Network and Home & Garden TV but do not regret turning it off for a second.  People are getting all worked up about some out of control satellite killing their cable, it was on the radio this morning and then I read this on the LA Daily News:

A TV communications satellite is drifting out of control thousands of miles above the Earth, threatening to wander into another satellite’s orbit and interfere with cable programming across the United States, the satellites’ owners said Tuesday. Communications company Intelsat said it lost control of the Galaxy 15 satellite on April 5, possibly because the satellite’s systems were knocked out by a solar storm.

If this does happen around May 28th as predicted, please take the opportunity to kick the cable. I grew up in Khartoum, Sudan. There was no TV, except a poor excuse for a local channel that played old ABBA songs and grainy ‘iftah ya Simsim’ the Arabic version of Sesame Street.  My siblings and I spent many lazy afternoons biking, making zip lines and reading Enid Blyton. We baked mud pies and jumped over walls into our neighbors’ yards to catch our rabbits.  Treasure hunts and impromptu plays ruled the bougainvillea-covered house on 33rd Street.

If you ask my kids, their memories revolve around cartoon characters or Disney princesses. I have to prompt them to talk about vacations or fun trips, which they enjoy but come second to the GREAT TV moments. I am jealous.

We were totally TV free (except for some pre screened DVDs) for at least 6 years after my daughter was born.  Then one day, Mr LF sign up for three months of free cable, thinking we would turn it off after the offer expired.  I was away visiting my parents during summer break. So three years went by and we never shut it off.  It is depressing to see the look of total absorption when the kids are watching and 1/2 an hour turns into two and soon the whole afternoon is gone.

I lived in constant fear of inappropriate ads and uncensored language. They would wake up in the morning and switch it on and would want to watch something before being tucked into bed. It wasn’t that they were watching too much by ‘normal’ standards. I was following most of the tips suggested by parenting websites. The incessant asking for more and the whining was out of control and I felt it in every part of my soul. I was sick of saying NO no more, turn it off- Listen to ME- they were wearing me down.

I threatened to have the cable turned off and when the words came out of my mouth, I realized if I didn’t go through with it they would never take me seriously. It was my moment of truth.

So far the biggest change is in LF#4. Since he can’t watch his favorite shows ie. Diego he doesn’t want to watch TV. He is no longer throwing hissy fits when we turn off the telly; his tantrums one of the major reasons I ‘pulled the plug’.

It is amazing how he knows that those shows are no longer available and so he is stopped asking for them.  I let him watch one or two ‘educational’ cartoons. He wants to play with blocks and his train set. I am working on going 100% TV free, please pray for me.

If you need more info check out this e-book the Awful truth about TV.

Trashyourtv.com has some great info as does this great website filled with articles and resources to help you make the decision of turning of your TV.

Unplug your kids has great alternative activities for TV free kids as does this site. For a Muslim perspective read Brother Khalid Baig’s article and this kutbah by Brother Shareef on TV-The Third Parent.


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LF#2 has learnt how to do wudu but she forgets to say the dua after, so this will work as a pretty reminder, insha’Allah. I used a sticker from Alhuda bookstore for LF#1 but it has gotten old and won’t stick anymore. I thought I would get home decor friendly prints and put the duas on  them. Then put them in a frame and hang them. You are welcome to print it out and put it near your wudhu place. D’ua after wudu Card

A story book about wudhu helps kids too. This one is about a young girl called Ruqqayah. Sister Umm Abdul Basir has a neat lapbook that younger kids can make to learn the sequence of Wudhu. The best way is to honestly do it with them, showing them what you are doing and asking them to copy you. For the little ones we sing this poem in our masjid and they pick up so fast.

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As the end of the year approaches our kids often have class parties, where they exchange gifts with their friends. Sometimes I send in toys or books. This craft was an Eid/holidays gift for my daughter’s preschool class. I painted one on canvas for each child in her class, inscribing their names in English and Arabic. MashaAllah the kids were fascinated, seeing their name in another language and hopefully will carry happy memories of a Muslim girl and her mommy for many years to come. Many of the parents appreciated the time and said they would display these in their kids rooms. All praise belongs to Allah.

This kid was half Indian Half African American

You will need ready made canvas available at Micheals or Aaron Brothers

I used acrylics and distressed glitter glue

First paint the background and let it dry before doing the calligraphy. Be as creative as you want. For some I shaded the background.

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Today I went to visit the home study coordinator at LF#1’s school.  Earlier in the month I spoke to the CAVA people at the Book Festival. I have to make a decision and I needed a nudge in the right direction. You know Allah send signs and we choose to acknowledge them or ignore them.  Instead of  a nudge I got a big push. I heard this on the news. These kids were in middle school in suburbia. Even if the stats are exaggerated I can not take the chance that my child will accidently walk into middle school CHILDREN engaged in sexual activities, I have thought of homeschooling off and on for a very long time. I read Sheikh Hamza Yousuf & John Gatto. His Underground History of American Education is a fascinating read, its available online for a free read. Watched these wonderful Muslim families for inspiration.

Homeschooling frightens people; they start thinking extremist, on the fringes of society, hippies, loony. I am just plain scared that I won’t be the best teacher for my children.
Will I be organized enough? My husband is concerned that our kids won’t be able to compete with kids attending schools. Both of us attended top notched colleges, so he expects that from our children.

InshaAllah, I plan to take a  baby step, I’m going to start my eldest next year- I can’t swim until I step into the water. I spend 2-3 hours with her going over homework, tests, stuff she didn’t ‘get’ in a class filled with 32 kids. So I should make the commitment and get her out of the system. I will still have 2 in school. I will have to make a LOT of changes but if I don’t- If I don’t change direction, I may end up where I am heading (Lao Tsu).

At least a million American home school their kids. It’s not common knowledge that ‘accomplished’ people like Sally Ride & Sandra Day O’ Connor were home schooled. Not that these are my role models but it may sway some: Will Smith and John Travolta home school their kids.  Francis S. Collins, the head of the public part of Human Genome project, was homeschooled and never followed any type of formal curriculum.

Allah’s Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said,

All of you are shepherds and each one is responsible for his flock. A leader of a people is a shepherd and responsible for them. A man is a shepherd over his family and is responsible for them. A woman is a shepherd over her husband’s house and his children and she is responsible for them. And a servant is a guardian over his master’s property and is responsible for it. So all of you are guardians and are responsible for your charges.” (Bukhari)

I know people in my family, my social circle will talk- the nay sayers, the ‘whys?’, the ‘watch her fails’- People will make it all about my hijabiousity, my holier than thou-ness.  They don’t understand that there are so many factors. My husband went to public school all his life but even he acknowledges that this was before the cellphones/texting days, things have drastically changed.

We chose to live in this school district because our neighborhood school was a Blue Ribbon school.  The student to teacher ratio was 20:1. But things are changing so fast. With budget cuts so many good programs have been dropped. This year we had to pay for field trips. There will be 32-36 children in LF#1’s class next year. Sometimes when I ask her why didn’t you understand what the teacher said? She says ‘ it was too noisy’!  She learns more in an individual setting whereas LF#2 thrives in a group setting.

May be it is all mostly about deen. Her salah/hijab is about to become fardh on her. If she is home, salah training will be easier than having her do all that in school when she is not in the habit yet. She is not a super hero- sometimes I think it is too much to expect from her, the only hijabi in the school. She and her sister have been wearing it to school every Friday since they were in KG, but it gets harder each year instead of easier. The older the kids get the less accepting they are. Some still are, others are so mean- especially because of  the political climate today.

My children’s public school experience has been fulfilling so far.  There are many kids who attend public school and turn out OK. Some are even more pious than their parents, I have seen examples in my own in-laws.

But what if my child is not that strong and then I regret it. Allah knows my niyyah is to give my child her haq- her right to be protected from harm & the best education out there.  I do not want be in the position where I see so many parents that I counsel, what if we had done this or that?  The rest is up to Allah- may He guide them and make them the best of the Ummah. Ameen

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Calligraphy of the Declaration of Faith

Teaching the articles of faith, Iman e mufassil to the kids? Have them listen to this beautiful nasheed by Talib Habib.  It will help them learn it easily when sung to this tune. My kids love to hum this rendition of the declaration of faith.

Listen to Articles of Faith

You can buy the album Songs of Innocence and help this brother.

The Lyrics to the Nasheed Articles of Faith

Amantu billahi wa mala’ikatihi
wa kutubihi wa rusulihi wa al-yaum al-akhiri
wa al-qadri khayrihi wa sharrihi min Allah
wa al-ba’si ba`d al-maut, la ilaha illa AllahFaith is belief in Allah and the Messengers
The angels and the Final Day, and the holy scriptures
And to believe in destiny
That good and bad both come from Him
And the Resurrection; there is no god but Allah.La ilaha illa Allah (x3), Muhammad Rasulullah

Allah is the creator of heaven and of earth
Nothing may compare with Him, He is the One alone
The prophets, best of humankind
Sent to all nations and all tribes
Last of all Muhammad, mercy to the worlds.

Formed of light and beauty, the angels of the Lord
To praise Allah, to help mankind,
Jibril brings the word.
The scriptures, all by Allah sent,
Torah, Psalms and Gospel then
The source of perfect guidance, the Glorious Quran.

The reckoning, the Final Day, when all will see their works
Remade in soul and body to stand before the Lord
With patience bearing every grief
With thankfulness for all blessings
We are content with destiny, the Will of Allah.

Faith is belief in Allah and the Messengers
The angels and the Final Day, and the holy scriptures
And to believe in destiny
That good and bad both come from Him
And the Resurrection; there is no god but Allah.

This is for educational purposes only- this is the property and copyrighted by  Brother Talib ul Habib.

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LF#1 has STAR testing this week- she has also had diarrhea and vomited a lot. After sitting in urgent care, then the lab for blood tests, then urgent care again, she is holding her tummy lying on that paper sheet, waiting for the doctor to see her. “How many pregnancy magazines can I read? I am not even expecting!” I ask her.  “Maaamaaaa… stop making me laugh, it hurts.”

Then they hand us a hat-like thingy and tell us to get a sample for a stool test- “eew” says” LF#1, “gross” think I. “If I do this sweetie- you be good to me when I’m old,” Saying a prayer for my own mom, I put on those latex-free gloves and then NOTHING! the same kid who was running to the bathroom every half hour. Nothing for a whole day!

Next we are sent to …. the ultrasound diagnostic center! “Doctor? the lab slip says abdomen scan but you booked her for both a pelvis and abd,” the receptionist calls the GP.  “Really?” I hear the GP’s voice over the phone in the dead quiet reception. “Ok, do both.” Ha, great sales tactic, I would hire her.

Lets just say I thought her first ultrasound would be 15 years from now and after it we would go shopping at Babies R Us.  Man, that tech was thorough. She checked every organ my child possessed and many I didn’t even know existed.

2 hours later we are back at the GP office. He says no mono, Praise the Lord! no bacterial infection Alhamdulillah! Ultrasound is ‘unremarkable’. Unremarkable? there is nothing unremarkable about my baby…oh wait  Thank God!

“Then what is it, doctor?” I ask. “Well, it may be STAR testing anxiety!” replies the doctor, sagely.

Are you for real? I have heard of test anxiety– there is even books on how to overcome them but severe vomiting! How much pressure does a 9-year-old have on her?

Have you ever had a child get ‘sick of school’?

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I get into a lot of arguments over giving the kids “unneccassary” (in my eyes) medication. This is precisely one of the reasons why. These are medication that EVEN naturo-pathic lovin’ mommies like me, give to our kids during times of extreme fever or allergic reactions.

They just had a recall in January 2010. And don’t forget the one in September 2009.

The maker of children’s™ Tylenol, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, has announced a recall of some of their products (see list below). The company says that the medicine did not meet the required quality standards! In the Benadryl, they put in too much active ingredients for the dosage. The FDA found bacteria in some of the lots. J&J has stopped production in some of their plants.

This recall affects us here in the US. But our Muslims brothers and sisters in Dubai, Kuwait, Fiji & Canada also need to check their medicine cabinets .

McNeil explains in its FAQ that you can get a refund for your recalled Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec or Benedryl, as long as it hasn’t already expired:

“You can receive either a refund for the average retail price of the product or a coupon for a free replacement (s) when the product becomes available again.”

To get that refund, first you need to locate two numbers on the label of the medicine bottle: the NDC number (above the brand name) and the lot number (vertical on the label).

Then input that info into this Web form along with the expiration date and your address.

Throw the recalled stuff into the trash, please don’t dump it down the drain. Pollutes the water.

The complete Tylenol Recall 2010 List from McNeil product recall’s official website:


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Right in the middle of the masjid, my little lovely takes his thobe (long shirt) that his Aunti just bought back from Medina, and shows his Pull ups for all the world to see. Mortified I look around- all the older women have that ‘look’ on their faces. She gives parenting advice- ‘look at her kid’.

Do all moms forget what it was like when their kids were two? Hope that’s not me in a couple of years-Even though its embarrassing, I know I will miss these days when he is all grown. I already do with the other 3.

He refused to put it down and laughed… he laughed every time I asked him to pull it down.  He wants to wear his dino outfit everywhere. During winter it was fine, its made of flannel-like material but it’s getting hot in CA  now.

We were out at the Sonora Desert Park in Arizona, one of the guide said ‘hey no dragons allowed in the park’ he was so offended, ‘I am dinosaur! ‘LF#3 says,”Oh God! he is embarrassing me” she has obviously forgotten her obsession with a certain hot pink & black dress.

Your life now according to babycenter.com:

You used to be able to dress your child in the adorable items of your choosing, and so long as she didn’t decide to strip naked, that was that. Now she seems to have opinions about everything she wears: This shirt is too “scratchy,” or “I want my blue top (again).” A budding fashionista? No, just a typical preschooler exerting her independence.

Try not to get hung up on what she looks like. Unless she’s being formally photographed, it really isn’t worth a power struggle. One tricky situation is refusing to wear a coat in the cold. Instead of insisting, try giving her a little face-saving space: “Okay, I’ll just bring it along in case.”

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A group of young Muslim moms in our area set up a mommy group. It’s more discussion based than lecture based, so we learn from each other. I was asked to lead the discussions-Alhamdulillah. So I thought we would start with something I am working on personally- ANGER. Especially anger directed at our children, that leaves us exhausted after screaming and our children scared or ambivalent.

These were my points:

  • All of us get angry- sometime its justified and sometimes we take it out on the wrong person- most often the people we love the most.

  • We need to reserve our anger for situations when our kids are really in the wrong.

  • Remember they are little, they are learning- I try to visualize  when I will be old and incompetent, how would I like my kids to take care of me – would I like them to scream at me if I wasn’t able to take care of myself.

  • If we are angry all the time then our kids will switch us off and our angry words will lose their value.

  • Shaytan runs through our veins we get hot, our blood pressure rises-

  • Learn to recognize the warning signs- I start clenching my teeth.

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) said: “Verily, anger is a spark ignited by the Shaitan (Satan) in the human heart. Indeed, when anyone of you gets angry, his eyes become red, the veins of his neck become swollen and Shaitan (Satan) enters them. Therefore, whosoever among you is concerned about himself on account of it, he should lie down for a while so that the filth of Shaitan (Satan) may be removed from him at the time.The person who is angry should make wudu.”

What should you do when you get angry-(from hadith)
1.    Read A’udhobillahhi minash shaytaanirrajeem “ I SEEK ALLAH’S PROTECTION FROM THE CURSED DEVIL”
2.    Recite Ayat al Qursi
3.    Change positions- if you are standing sit down, if you are sitting, lie down. This slows down your breathing and heart rate, because when we are closer to the Earth since we are made from earth
4.   Make wudu or atleast splash some water on your face “The cure is that you extinguish the fire with water so that the evil doesn’t spread.”
6.   Drink water

The last circle we had, we discussed Sister Olivia’s article DJ Empty threat. All of us could relate to using the 1-2-3 technique only to have it backfire. First of all,  as Muslim moms we should try to minimize the threats. If we do make  ‘threats’, then make it solid and unemotional, something that you can and will follow-up with consequences. This is essential for our words to mean anything. Otherwise we are lying- this was a big aha moment for the newer moms.

I always ask my kids to be ‘first time listeners’.    1-2-3 means something in our house because I don’t use it all the time and when we use it, they know that we mean it  . But it wasn’t always like that especially with LF#1 and LF#2. I’ll be ‘scream-free’ for days and then lose it, like crazy Mama! With LF#3 and #4, I am much calmer. Chalk it up to experience.

Dua from the Qur’an for Disobedient Children

Wa as lih lee fee dhurriyathee. Innee thub thu ilayka wa innee minal muslimeen 46:15

And (O Allah), be gracious towards me in the matter of my off-spring. And surely, I have returned to you in repentance, and surely, I am of those who surrender (to you)

When our kids are disobedient, we can recite the above dua especially after every Salaah (this is a time when duas are accepted).  Keep your child or even students in mind when making the dua.

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