Dire Need For Manhood Parenting

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By Pure Matrimony -

Source: Umm Zakiyyah, http://www.saudilife.net/parenting/29617-dire-need-for-manhood-parenting

WHAT will you do when you have children of your own?” parents often ask their daughters. “What will you do when you have a husband?”

But what about preparing our sons for manhood?

What are we as parents asking our boys? How are we preparing our sons— practically and psychologically—for the role of husband and father that they will likely assume later in life?

Though modern-day feminism frowns upon this type of gender-role parenting, gender-role parenting is not only good but necessary. Both women and men need to be raised fully aware of and sensitive to not only their own needs but the needs of their future partner as well.

Much of the crises we face today—in both non-Muslim and Muslim homes—can largely be traced back to how boys and girls are taught from childhood about themselves and the opposite sex.

Although parents cannot and should not be held accountable for the conscious choices their children make in adulthood, parents should be mindful of the practical and psychological lessons about manhood and womanhood they are giving their sons and daughters daily.

Unfortunately, an overwhelming majority of Muslims’ parenting strategies put a huge emphasis on preparing females for their duties and responsibilities as wives and mothers; but only a small amount of attention is given to preparing males for their mirror roles as husbands and fathers.

“Why do all the books on marriage talk mostly about women?” my young adult daughter, an avid reader, asked me one day. She also confided in me that her lessons at school, as well as the Islamic information she came across, gave her the impression that the woman was solely responsible for raising the children and making a marriage work.

Although Islamic literature and school lessons are not directly related to parenting strategies, they do reflect a larger issue that, ultimately, stems from the home. After all, every author and teacher was once a son or daughter living with parents who taught them, explicitly and implicitly, about what it means to be a husband or wife and a father or mother. And it is these foundational lessons that are often reflected in an author’s or teacher’s outlook when imparting valuable information about marriage and parental roles.

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What compounds the issue of properly teaching about manhood is that many common cultural practices allow for strikingly different messages for boys and girls regarding adhering to Islamic guidelines of behavior. The transgressions of boys, even if violent (like physically fighting others or swerving their cars in the road) or obviously sinful (like being involved in unlawful relationships with girls), are dismissed as necessary growing pains of youth or by saying, “Boys will be boys.” Some parents even encourage their boys’ violent behavior by claiming, “He has to learn to stand up for himself” or “He has to let others know not to mess with him.”

In other words, these parents are instructing their boys to openly oppose the instructions of Allah’s Messenger, sallallaahua’alayhi wa sallam, who taught that the Muslim is the one from whom others are safe from his tongue and his hand.

Granted, this encouragement toward violence is often packaged as “self-defense” lessons (especially as boys tend to be more aggressive toward each other), this same encouragement toward physical self-defense is often not encouraged of girls, who are also prey to the physical attacks of other girls—and boys.

Ultimately, what these contradictory messages translate into for manhood is the male’s subconscious belief that he is not bound by Islamic guidelines of behavior. Therefore, as a husband or father, he may not feel compelled toward any of the following: being patient in times of anger, seeking out non-aggressive strategies in the face of opposition, considering another person’s feelings before responding or acting out, understanding his own role in angering someone, or even exercising self-control when interacting with the opposite sex (even if he imagines his interaction will ultimately culminate in marriage, in monogamy or polygamy).

Or worse, he imagines that “being a man” is to behave in defiance of all of these.

Ironically, girls are often taught all of the above guidelines of “proper behavior”—by parents, teachers, and Islamic literature alike, as they should be.

However, these are not gender-specific guidelines of behavior. They are Islamic ones.

Therefore, although there is much overlap in the lessons that both girls and boys should receive in childhood, due to the common misconceptions about what it means to “be a man” in today’s world (which largely stems from cultural practices that have no roots in Islam), specific attention needs to be given to preparing Muslim boys for manhood.

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In general, Islamic manhood parenting should be of two types: explicit (by parents laying down clear rules to be followed and real consequences for transgressions, as well as giving direct lessons on what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in both childhood and manhood) and implicit (by parents, especially the father, leading by example).

In other words, just as we explicitly and implicitly prepare girls for the practical and psychological reality she will face as a wife and mother, we need to explicitly and implicitly prepare boys for the practical and psychological reality of being a husband and father.

Then perhaps we don’t have to ask our sons, “What will you do when you have children of your own?” or “What will you do when you have a wife?”

Because our parenting strategies and Islamic example would have already given him the answers he’ll need to carry into manhood.

Source: Umm Zakiyyah, http://www.saudilife.net/parenting/29617-dire-need-for-manhood-parenting

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