Scientific Principles For Raising Teenagers
By: Ali Tekmaji
The problem of raising teenagers is a question of great concern to the specialists in the study of parenting.
Children usually remain under their parents' control till a certain age, but the parents often misuse this control. The parents later regret this after their children leave, whether by marriage, migration or education. It is, therefore, very important for parents to give this subject plenty of time and attention, knowing that a righteous child will be like an everlasting charity, benefiting them even after death!
There are factors that influence maturing teenagers and their behaviour. Some of these are internal factors like hereditary characteristics and temperament. Obviously such factors vary from one member of a family to another, and do not imply the fatalistic determining of human behaviour. Other factors are environmental factors like parents’ or corrupt relatives’ behaviour, friends, the classroom, and finally different media outlets which have in many cases become corrupting influences on our children.
Some parents, as we can see, do not know who their children’s friends are, and what orientations and inclinations they have, when these very people can in fact have a great influence on their children’s behaviour. We have often seen parents giving all their efforts, psychological and intellectual, to raising their son with good manners until the age of eighteen. But one night spent in the wrong company turns this son upside down, and what a great loss! For this reason it is necessary to pay very careful attention to children, taking care to know with whom they spend their time, where they go and what they do.
One practical recommendation in this matter is constructive dialogue. Young people nowadays have a great deal of knowledge and understanding of politics, economy, culture, and so forth. When the social sphere is full of imported ideas, cultural mixing and disturbing concepts, it is our duty to help young people who can end up living in confusion as a result of all this intellectual freedom. The best way to help is with open minded discussion, rather than by arguments or plain criticism. This latter method on the whole produces only stubbornness. There is an insightful hadith in this regard: “Never raise your children the way you were raised because they were created for a different time than yours.”
Another practical recommendation for the parents is to establish a friendship with their children and to avoid the distant relationship that is widespread in eastern societies. This friendship would encourage children to discuss their problems and concern with their parents, who know what is good for them, instead of with strangers. The father should himself select the most suitable group of friends for his son, for example those who come frequently to the mosque, before the son falls in with an unsuitable crowd.
Another important piece of advice for the parents is to show their children their love, affection, and pride, taking care to avoid accusations and expressions of mistrust, which will
adversely affect their self-confidence. If a parent sees something positive in their child, they should take advantage of this, giving encouragement and praise. It is well known that reward is a motivating factor even for adults, something found in the Divine Law in the way the Qur’an encourages virtuous actions.