Step-Parenting in Islam

By: Khalid Iqbal, Founder Rahmaa Institute

Islam encourages men and women to get married after divorce or the death of one of the spouse. In this article we have attempted to describe issues and challenges a step-parent may face when two families blend together as one after marriage.

1. It takes time to gain acceptance: You may not be able to take the place of the biological parent right away in the child’s heart and mind.
2. What are some of the things and activities you should plan to introduce your new spouse to your child(ren)?
3. Don’t over do in being nice: Natural balance is needed to sustain a lasting relationship with a child.
4. Don’t take things personal: A child may innocently compare you with their biological parent by saying like “my mom’s cooking is much better” or “my dad never stopped us from watching TV”.
5. Develop respect for your new spouse: Right or wrong, in trivial matters never criticize your new spouse in front of your child(ren). Teach them lovingly to respect their new parent. Remember respect bring respect.
6. Discipline is always difficult: It is best to discuss between the two of you how you are going to discipline each other’s children fairly. Never leave a perception of being discriminatory or unjust.
7. Avoid suspicion: It is natural for your own children to come and complain to you about their new parent about what a child may perceive to be unjust treatment. Listen to your child and instead of reacting blindly handle it extremely carefully.
8. Mom say “No” but the dad say “yes” and vice versa: Don’t blame the child. Communicate with each other. Be on the same wavelength at all the time.
9. Share love, there is lots to go around: Show love in action, hug, kiss, a nice talk, understanding emotions all help.
10. Acknowledge achievements through positive reinforcement: This is one of the most important tools in your parenting tool kit. Recognize achievement right away in a timely manner. Some parents are celebrating achievements in school, sports, behavior or attitude with recognition and gifts for the child rather than celebrating events like birthdays.
11. Appreciate your child’s personality. Allah created us different each with our own personality. Recognize it rather than trying to mold your child into what you yourself are or want them to be.
12. Understand the change in children when they shuttle between your home and your Ex. Your boundaries that you may have set might be different than those set in the home of your Ex. The child may already be confused, so don’t aggravate the situation.
13. Story telling is one of the most powerful way to communicate: Bed time story sharing is the best way to get close to your children including step-children. You should can continue it until they reach the age of puberty.
14. Be inclusive: Make sure to include your step-children in all family decision making, celebrations and family traditions. Ramadan and eid preparation and other similar occasions are great time to share happiness.
15. Seek opportunity to spread joy and happiness: Children don’t have a choice to choose their parents. But as parents we can choose to bring happiness in their life. Follow the hadeeth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) “Smile is charity”
16. Turn each positive step as a milestone for the entire family. It will encourage younger siblings to strive for better also.
17. Listen instead of talking and interrupting: Allah has given us two ears and only one mouth. Respect what the children are saying by paraphrasing after listening to them.
18. Define misunderstanding in marriage. Its bases, how does it start and where it can lead to (consequences)
19. At what age a child should get a cell phone? How should the parents decide? Should it be based on certain circumstances?
20. Collectively both of you decided to put conditions and limits regarding certain issues and activities (e.g. the use of electronic devices lap-top, i-pad, cell phone, play station etc. to a certain time (say 45 minutes) but only after the kids have finished their school work). Your spouse however relax the limit when he/she is tired or is busy with something else to avoid spending time with the kids. You feel all the effort is lost and feel extremely frustrated. What should you do?
a) Should you react to the situation?
b) If yes, how will you react? When should you react?
c) What if the child have not done their school work?
d) Will it be different if the child is your step child?
e) What if the child says that their Biological mother or father (your ex’s) allow them to play as much as they want?
f) Does age of the child matter on the restrictions of electronic devices? Say under 10 year, 11 year old to 14 year old, 15 year and over.
g) Any other possibility resulting from this situation?

21. Your child is down and show signs of being afraid of something. You have some suspicion on your new spouse. How will you handle the situation? Please think about different situation as we will build on this scenario.
22. What is your opinion on disciplining a child? What if he/she is not your child?
23. What is your opinion on spoiling a child?
24. Girls reaching puberty goes through body and mind transformation. How should this be handled? By whom? What is needed in the parent / child relationship?

Please give us your input on this article and also share your experience with us at Rahmaa.Institute@gmail.com

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