FAJR 04:30 AM
DHUHR 01:30 PM
ASR 07:00 PM
MAGHRIB 09:12 PM
ISHA 10:15 PM

Fajr

04:30 AM

DHUHR

01:30 PM

ASR

07:00 PM

MAGHRIB

09:12 PM

ISHA

10:15 PM

The Evolution Of Muslim Parenting

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Introduction

Parenting has evolved significantly over the years, shaped by societal changes, technological advancements, and generational shifts.  Each generation of parents has had its own unique approach to raising children, influenced by the values and circumstances of their time. 

As a millennial parent navigating the hurdles of modern day parenting, I hope this blog piece will help explore the differences in generational parenting between children who grew up in the 80s, and children growing up now up, as late Gen Z and Gen Alphas. 

With that in mind, let’s delve into the contrasting styles of Boomer/ Gen Y parents, versus Millennial parents.

 

THE CHALLENGES OF 80’s PARENTING

During the 1980s, immigrants arriving in Britain faced a complex web of difficulties and challenges stemming from a British society largely unaccustomed to racial and cultural diversity. Many of these immigrants came to England from the former British colonies in the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent, and Africa, drawn by the promise of economic opportunities and a chance for a better life in the United Kingdom. What they found was that whilst “the streets may have been paved in gold”, their journey to acceptance was fraught with many obstacles.

One of the most glaring issues that immigrants encountered was overt racism, discrimination and often being subjected to prejudice and bigotry. Muslim immigrants along with others, faced discrimination in employment, housing, and education, making it exceedingly challenging to secure stable livelihoods and provide for their families. The rise of far-right movements in the 1980s exacerbated racial tensions, leading to incidents of violence and hate crimes against non-white individuals and communities. Muslims found themselves struggling to practise their religion openly and negative perceptions of Islam made it difficult for them to integrate into British society. 

Economic hardship was another major challenge. Many immigrants from the sub-continent arrived with the hope of securing stable employment, but sometimes despite holding degrees from back home, they found themselves relegated to low-paying jobs with very limited prospects for advancement. Discriminatory hiring practices and a lack of access to quality education and training opportunities further perpetuated this cycle of economic disadvantage.

Language and cultural barriers added to the struggles faced by immigrants. Many newcomers had to navigate accents, colloquialisms, and unfamiliar customs. Added to this was a culture that was alien to many from an Islamic perspective with regards to drinking alcohol and free mixing. This made it even more challenging for them to find their footing in British society and establish meaningful connections.

 

BEING PARENTS

When it came to being parents, this generation of UK Muslims had it tough. Battling for acceptance in an intimidating and unfamiliar environment, the majority of their mental energy was spent trying to acclimatise to their new normal. Having arrived from countries where the focus was on it “taking a village” to raise a child – to a new country where they knew nobody, meant they lost their community and with it, any feeling of belonging. 

Stricter Discipline in Gen Y and Boomer Parents

Gen Y and Boomer parents grew up in a time when discipline was synonymous with strict rules and consequences. These parents believed in setting clear boundaries, adhering to routines, and enforcing discipline through punishment when necessary.

Emphasis on Respect and Authority

Gen Y and Boomer muslim parents believed in teaching their children to respect authority figures, including teachers, elders, and parents themselves. Politeness, manners, and strict adherence to societal norms were highly valued, quite possibly as a result of having to change and conform themselves to the brand new society they found themselves in. 

Parents of the time had often been brought up by parents even stricter than themselves. Nurturing an emotional connection with children, (whilst emphasised in Islam), was not always the culturally popular thing to do with a tendency to lean towards a “do as I say not say as I do” approach.

Consequences for Misbehaviour

Consequences for breaking rules were often swift and severe, the aim being to instil a sense of accountability in children. This approach aimed to prepare children for a world with clear consequences for their actions. It was common for parents to use punishments such as smacking as a means of disciplining their children. 

 

Lack of Emotional Awareness in Gen Y and Boomer Parents

Whilst much emphasis was placed on discipline, Gen Y and Boomer parents tended to prioritise discipline and conformity over nurturing emotional intelligence. Parents from these generations often encouraged children to suppress or hide their emotions, especially those perceived as negative such as sadness or anger. Displaying vulnerability was often seen as a sign of weakness. We did not see it from our parents and learnt to hold it in for ourselves.

In addition, discussions about mental health issues were almost non-existent, leading to a stigma around (now millennial adults), seeking help for emotional struggles. There was a strong lack of understanding around the challenges their children faced growing up in 80s/90s Britain. 

We experienced a huge lack of identity in terms of fitting in in those times. We couldn’t have the school Turkey Christmas lunch, or Pepperami in our lunch box. The School disco was a no no and minced pies were apparently “haram”. We knew we couldn’t eat certain things, that we definitely couldn’t dress the same as our English friends, and dating – you must  be crazy. But more often than not, we weren’t totally sure why this was the case, as a lack of connection with our parents meant that these were not seen as conversations that needed to be had. 

So instead we watched our school friends go clubbing, date, drink far too much and throw up in the backseat of someone’s car. We secretly wanted to be a part of it and craved the acceptance and desire to just be “normal” like everybody else. But any discussion of these topics with our parents and we were berated and sanctioned for acclimatising “too much”. 

We became too “English ” for life at home and too “Ethnic” for our friends.

Issues such as these led to a growing disconnect between immigrant Muslim parents and their children. In addition, the advent of “googling” was a distant thing in the future, if you didn’t know something – you didn’t know. Nobody opened up about the difficulties they might be facing in their homes and access to information on how to tackle any issues was near enough impossible to find.

 

Emotional Awareness in Millennial Parents

Now let’s take a look at the Millennial parenting style, it is clear that there has been a significant shift towards a more emotionally aware and supportive approach. As mentioned above, growing up in the West forced current Millennials to face many challenges in their younger years. 

Often seen as the “other” by the majority of our classmates, following a completely different religion and immersed in a totally different culture. 

On the odd occasion we were exposed to the western parenting styles our friends had in their homes, it came as a bit of a shock. Our friends were invited to share their opinions at dinner time, and quite often expressly asked for one. Should they not want to do something or take part in an activity, they were not usually forced to, and talking about feelings and emotions was seen as very normal.

Whilst there are aspects of Western culture that are at odds with Islamic parenting, there have been many things that Millennials were able to learn and adopt from their Western Counterparts, taking benefit from as we ourselves became parents.

  • Open Communication

Muslim Millennial parents encourage open communication with their children, creating a safe space for them to express their feelings and concerns. We value active listening and strive to understand our children’s emotions. 

  • Empathy and Compassion

Millennials prioritise empathy and compassion, teaching children to be kind and considerate towards others. We recognise that emotions are a natural part of human experience and help our children navigate them. What we don’t understand, we take the time to Google and learn and understand. We will happily take advice from those who have been through the experience.

  • Mental Health Awareness

Unlike our predecessors, millennial parents are proactive in addressing mental health issues. We educate ourselves and our children about the importance of mental well-being.

Seeking professional help when needed has become significantly normalised, reducing the previous stigmas surrounding mental health.

However, It’s not always a bed of roses

Every generation faces its own set of unique challenges and just because we have adopted some fantastic new ways of doing things does not by any stretch mean that we are home free. There are now issues that need to be addressed that previously never even existed. Whilst our parents generation could have been criticised for being too strict, there is a concern that we are not strict enough

Parents are grappling with huge challenges including those posed by the integration of technology into daily life. Striving to strike a balance between screen time and outdoor activities has become a normal part of a week, and digital literacy and online safety have become essential aspects of parenting. Some parents struggle to say no to their children. As a result of not having our emotional needs met whilst growing up, there is now a tendency to lean towards over-compensation. We want for our children everything we didn’t and whilst it is wonderful that we are able to do this, it raises questions around whether we are doing everything we can to raise a generation who value discipline, respect hard work, and pay attention to the rules. 

In the same way, whilst discussions around mental health and inclusivity have huge benefits, the society around us has adopted increasingly progressive values, promoting inclusivity, diversity, and environmental consciousness.

Children are made aware of issues far earlier than they previously would have, for example lessons on relationships and LGBT now start from a far younger age in primary school. It is getting more and more difficult to hold firm to our Islamic values as they can be at direct odds with what is seen as morally acceptable from a societal perspective.

With these issues coming at us head on, ICOB are putting in place the support and education needed to ensure that as parents we learn, and take the best from both worlds, in turn raising a generation that surpasses the previous one – Insha’Allah. The Community Development Hub will be offering parenting classes to help parents put in place the foundations to garner success.

Our parents knew that it took a village, so if the village can’t come to us we need to ensure we bring it to you – in a safe space where we can learn from each other. Whilst every generation may have its challenges, there’s no need to do it alone. 

 

Summer; Copywriter and Content Strategist

A Good Nudge

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