If you ask most young people how they feel generally and how they feel within their families, the most common answer is ‘isolated’ ‘different’ ‘lonely’. What has happened to us that we have forgotten how to communicate with our kids!

Are we just too busy to really listen to them? Have we forgotten how it felt when we were young and searching for our identity and role in life? Or do we just no longer care?

The world is waiting with outstretched hands for young people who stray away from their families. The straying doesn’t have to be a physical departure from the home, it can also be a spiritual and emotional separation where people can live in the same house but be as far apart as planets orbiting the earth.

Islam comes to our rescue once again! Allah Most High in His infinite Wisdom and Mercy has outlined our responsibilities towards our children and these duties continue even after they have become mature and are seemingly independent. The family is a unit. It should be a solid structure of love, harmony, and mutual support. Home should be wherever the family is and should be a place of return – a place to heal and refresh one’s spirit.

So why do so many young people turn away from their families and turn toward friends and gangs? It is indeed time that we look again at our attitudes, words, and behavior toward our young people.

The first step to reach out toward our young people is to realize the difficult time they have growing up in today’s world. They are surrounded by enormous pressures that engulf them at a time when they are trying out their own wings, so to speak, and establishing their identity. They need lots of love, good sound advice, encouragement, and opportunities. By the time they reach adolescence, you, as parents, have already taught them the basics of life and what is expected from them as Muslims. After fourteen years of age, we are supposed to be their friends and find a way to communicate, rather than order and restrict.

It is natural that parents react when they see their children inclining toward certain friends or behavior that they do not like. But rather than react negatively and accuse, abuse, and order, try to talk and discuss the issue, referring back to the Islamic foundation that is present in your child’s heart. Remember that they too, feel somewhat lost and although they might never say it, need you to be strong for them and give them clear boundaries but in a kind, wise way.

Communicating with your children starts from the time they are very young. Making the balance between respect and communicating openly is a difficult thing to do and the only solution is to turn to Allah Most High for guidance and support.

Be sure that if parents turn their backs on their young ones, the world is ready to welcome them with open arms…. Keep them close to you. Develop in your family the habit of praying together, sitting together to discuss Islam and life, putting difficult issues into context. Maintain a loving harmonious atmosphere in the home and  make good use of these blessed days at the end of Ramadan to try to resolve any issues and bring the hearts together. Discuss the significance of Laylatul Qadr and stand together in prayer seeking its blessings, and praying for forgiveness and hearts that are at ease with each other.

And for those parents who are too busy for their kids, listen to this story.

A teenage boy was on his way to travel to a distant land. He didn’t know when he would see his family again. His mother was always working and always busy. She thought that she was working for the family; for him, but that wasn’t what he needed or wanted. He wanted her. As he was getting ready to go to the airport his mother said, “I’m going to miss you son.”

“Me too mum. But I’ve been missing you for a long time.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’re always busy mum.”

“But I’m home a lot son. You get to see me.”

“But even when you’re home you’re still busy. You don’t have time and I don’t like to bother you.”

His mother sat quietly, thinking. He put his bags over his shoulders and turned to his mother and said. “It’s ok mum. I understand, but I just got tired of waiting for you to come home.”

May Allah open our hearts to His light and guidance. May He soften our hearts toward each other and teach us to bend and give to find solutions.

By Aziza A.D.U