Wednesday 15 November 2017

Raising Children of a Different Religion

I will never forget that moment, when my parents got their suspicions confirmed: ‘She is a  Muslim!’. It was almost nine years ago and, boy, was it a journey of self-search, acceptance and reconciliation.

Let me go back to where it all began… It was around 2010, when I flew abroad leaving my family behind. It was time to leave the nest and the relationships were strained. Plus, the studies that I didn’t enjoy, and the lack of career opportunities helped to make the final decision.

I was only eighteen when I converted, so I have lived with my parents for a year, who were of different religion than I. It was tough just to balance discovering and rediscovering my own identity, while avoiding confrontations about crazy ‘self-search’. Being a Muslim was setting them off and I wasn’t strong enough to keep up with their anger.

I have never thought that my decision will be met with so much apprehension, fear and disappointment. I was a ‘perfect’ child. Studying well and being well behaved. At the same time, I was hurting from inside. I just didn’t feel I belonged. I felt an outcast. My views on life and what was right in life, and what was important were so different… It was just too much, I couldn’t find a way to feel myself and feel good about it.

I know, Mrs. Righteous, talking!

I reached the point where I wanted to be out and have time to find myself and stop being ‘punished’ for finding peace in being Muslim.

I have met my now husband. Married. Had children and studied.

As an adult, I have found that being from a family that is of different religion is manageable. My family are Christians. ALL of them and I’m a Muslim.

Over the years, they have gotten used to the fact that I wasn’t just going through a phase, but was serious about it. I don’t touch ‘those’ subjects anymore, that puts everyone in the defence zone, but rather do my best to be a good sister, daughter and granddaughter. It seems to work.

The biggest challenge now is raising my children to be good Muslims, because I grew up a Christian, I know what to do and when. I know how to celebrate and enjoy the festivities. I know how to have big birthday bashes.

It was tough to get used of all the ‘customs’ of celebrating and just being a Muslim. Then realising that you don’t have to pretend to be Asian or Arab, but find your own identity.

Now, as a parent I’m still navigating not only how to raise my children into healthy conscious adults, but how to share with them the love for Allah that I have found.

I found that the first step was to be honest. Some days I just survive by praying to Allah, so that I would raise my boys good men. My six year old thinks he is a teenager now and it’s about time for me to give in to all his wishes, because grownups do as they please, obviously.

We are learning with him about the power of prayer. That sometimes we are not given what we wish for. Sometimes, because we didn’t work hard enough to get it and sometimes we are not ready to receive yet.

I’m teaching him to love. Also, how to turn to prayer when his little heart hurts. Maybe, I’m hoping he will learn one day, that you don’t have to have it all together. That Allah can heal the pain…

I hope that both my boys are going to experience the pleasure of prayer. The intimacy of it. When it’s just you and your Creator.

And about my parents… I learned that love, respect and genuine attention can take you further than trying to prove your truth. That took me eight years of self-searching to realise the gifts that they gave me and how it shaped the person that I am today.

I stopped trying to be the right one. I stopped feeling guilty for practicing different religion than them. I stopped looking for differences. It gave me and them the freedom to just be. We might not agree on everything, but that is just a part of who we are.

InshaAllah, one day, my children will find peace in their souls, the beauty of prayer and will be able to trust that Allah will grant their prayers when they will be ready to receive. I will keep reminding myself that I don’t have to have it all together. Just enough.

Author Bio

Veronika al Mahdiyah, BSc (Hons) Psych (Open), is a relationship coach for busy ambitious Muslim women. Veronika is obsessed with mindset hacks, overcoming fear, and finding the balance between personal and professional fulfillment.


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