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Parenting is one of the hardest jobs a person could ever be responsible for, yet, a very rewarding one indeed. There isn't a parenting book that accurately tells a parent how to parent his/her child. And, babies aren't born with a manual on how to be cared for. There may be books here and there on parenting tips, but they don't fit every single child. Children are individuals with unique personalities, so they should be treated as such. It is helpful to get tips and advice from other parents who have had years of experiences or from professionals who have studied different child behavior, but tips should not turn into parenting commands. As parents, we shouldn't get too caught up in parenting tip articles, and here are some reasons why.

1. Parenting tips are usually based on personal experiences
Though they are often helpful, parenting tips are nothing more than ideas people usually share from personal experiences. Someone else may benefit from them, but it doesn't mean that every single person would. Even when those tips come from social studies, there still isn't a guarantee that they would also work for you and everyone else. Social studies aren't necessarily 'facts.' Different factors such as the social-economic groups of the sample of people being used for the studies, cultures, time/period, and other similar factors need to be put into consideration.

2. There isn't one correct way of parenting
The problem with seeking parenting advice or excessively reading parenting tip articles is when some parents start thinking that the only way of doing some parenting act is by enacting what they have read. It doesn't work that way. What you read may be helpful to you or someone else you share the article with, but leave room for different interpretations. You may even come up with an idea that could be more beneficial to you.

3. Not all parenting tips work on every child 
As I've mentioned before, children are individuals and need to be treated as such. We can't expect every tip to work on every child. Let's take discipline for example, every child responds to different types of disciplinary actions differently. It may be helpful to go through trials and errors to come up with the perfect one for your child.

4. Some parenting tips seem rather condemning than encouraging
Of the few parenting tip articles that I have read so far, some did seem rather condemning than encouraging, even if that wasn't the intention. Honestly, after reading some articles, one can easily feel like the worse parent alive or feel as if he/she is doing it all wrong. Titles like, "10 Things You Should NEVER do as a Parent" sound very alarming, but not necessarily bad. It may become an issue when the list is comprised of things like "Do NOT tell your child 'Good Boy'" or "Do NOT tell your child 'You are Beautiful.'" Of course, there are always reasons people give tips and back it up with experiences and sometimes social studies. But, we should be very careful how such tips come across. Someone reading a title and tips like that could easily feel like a failure as a parent. Some things really aren't as much of a big deal as they are made to be these days. But even when we think they are, they probably shouldn't come under such alarming titles. People usually parent the way they know best, so we should assume the best, even when we disagree. That being said, tips are also welcome. We just need to make sure our tips come from a helpful, understanding, encouraging, and non-judgmental place. There are always extreme cases where some parents or parenting acts don't fit the acceptable norm. Such cases should be treated differently.

5. People have different cultures and different understandings
One thing I've always found interesting is when people disregard that what's acceptable in one culture may not necessarily be acceptable in another. One of my passion in life is learning different cultures, languages, and trying to understand different people as best as I can. Whether I agree or disagree, I'm always fascinated with the way people think and behave based on where they come from or the ethnicity they belong to. Parenting also comes under the umbrella of things people do differently based on their environment and cultures. A good example of that is spanking. We can go back and forth about whether spanking is acceptable, but we can't deny the fact that depending on the society we have that conversation in, the conversation would be very different. There are extreme cases where we can all agree would be flat-out wrong, but even what the borderline of extreme is could differ from society to society. What makes a person a 'bad' parent in one society may not necessarily make him/her a 'bad' parent in another society. That's a reality we have to be willing to consider when talking about parenting; especially when addressing a diverse group of people. That's not to say that we should never challenge some of those cultural norms; we just have to come from a place of understanding and consideration.

It's wonderful to share parenting tips and take tips from others, but we should try not to consider tips as facts that everyone should abide by. When reading parenting articles, take every advice with a grain of salt; including this one. Bookmark or take notes if you have to, but never feel the need to take on every advice as something you must do. Leave room for reflection, questioning, maybe consideration, or simply moving on. It's okay, and you're not a 'bad' parent for not taking every advice or abiding by everything you read.

Author: Umm Sumayyah
Previously published on Ihsaan Home Academy.


AuthorUmm Sumayyah

Note from the author:
This is a true story told by way of fiction in order to mask people's identity and to cover for forgotten details. The language is also different.

Curious little me just couldn't stop wondering about Djene. I had many questions that I wanted to ask neighbors, my mother, and hopefully, even Djene herself. I somehow thought that I could help, even without knowing what I could do to help or without knowing exactly what was going on. But now, I had to focus on what was going on at the moment.

Right after slapping Djene, Khadia held her baby's foot with her right hand as she fumed out of anger towards Djene.
"You burned my son's foot!" she exclaimed. "You burned Boubacar's foot!" she shouted as she extended her left hand to pull Djene's ears towards the ground, as hard as she could.

"His foot ..." before she could even complete her sentence, Djene received another hard slap from Khadia. "Crack!"
Again, her head swung from side to side, but this time, it was clear that she must have been in pain. I was sure that I could see her eyes full of tears, about to flow down her cheeks. Her face didn't seem as indifferent as it usually did.
My heart was filled with more pain and sorrow. I was angry and wished I could grab Khadia myself to put some sense into her. But again, what could I have done? I was just a kid.

Despite cutting Djene off when she tried to talk, Khadia angrily said, "I'm talking to you! Can't you hear me?" as if she was expecting an explanation.
"His ..." Djene continued. "His foot touched the hot pot of rice by mistake after I took it down from the fire."
"And where were you?" Khadia angrily shouted.
"I put him a little further from me, but he crawled fast and I didn't see him fast enough when he got closer."

Djene used a little traditional stove, almost the size of two small stools, one on top of the other. She used ignited burnt wood to cook on the stove. As if cooking with big pots on a low stove wasn't dangerous enough, Djene had to always be with Khadia's son. She was barely seen with her own son because Djene was the '24/7' nanny despite being a kid herself; at least I thought she was a kid.

Khadia's shouting and ear pulling continued.
All the loud noise was making little Boubakar cry hysterically. He was probably scared, worried, or simply bothered by his mother's loud shouts. But interestingly enough, Boubacar's cries seemed to pump Khadia even more. At least that's how it seemed to me. It seemed as if she interpreted his cries to be out of the pain of what happened to him hours earlier. As far as I remember, he wasn't crying when she arrived.

As expected, Djene's reply to Khadia' question didn't seem satisfying to Khadia. "Crack!" she slapped Djene for the third time! Was this the hardest slap? I wondered. By then, I'm pretty sure I either cried or was eagerly waiting for someone to step in. But no; no one did. At least that's how it was for a while.

This scene happened in plain daylight, in the middle of the neighborhood. It was in a tropical country in West Africa. Because of the pleasant weather, people spent most of their time in front of their houses instead of inside. Some of the neighbors who witnessed this scene were cooking in their outside kitchens, some were chatting, and there were children playing. They all tried hard to focus on what they were doing. Some of them did seem to feel troubled by what they saw, but it was part of the culture for people to mind their own business, but this scene seemed too troublesome for most people.

"Because you burned my son's foot, I will pay it back by burning your foot too!" Khadia suddenly said, as she angrily pulled her son out of Djene's hands to hand him to her closest neighbor. She walked back towards Djene with a large spoon as fast as she could, took a little piece of ignited charcoal from the stove, dropped it on the grown, and what happened next completely shattered my heart!

To be continued ...

Author: Umm Sumayyah

Note from the author:
This is a true story told by way of fiction in order to mask people's identity and to cover for forgotten details. The language is also different.

"Flap, flap, flap" She walked as fast as she could with slippers on her feet, groceries in a plastic bag in one hand, and an angry face that could probably scare lions away.
The closer she got to her house, the more nervous I got.
"What would she do this time?" I thought. I was raised to mind my business, but there were certain things that just couldn't be ignored. But what could I do? I was just a kid.

"Djene!" she called! "is Djene not there!?" She dropped the grocery bags on the floor and started looking left and right for Djene.
A few minutes later, Djene showed up with a baby in one hand and a worried face. The baby was Khadia's child; the lady with the angry face. He was a beautiful boy with big dark eyes. Djene was the nanny who took care of him 24/7 and did all the house chores.

Khadia raised her right hand as high as she could, and without hesitation, she threw it across Djene's face. "Crack!" I wasn't sure if it was the extreme sound of the slap or Djene's head bouncing from one side to another that scared me the most. I was left with feelings of anger, sadness, and pitty. What shocked me the most afterward wasn't the Khadia's violence towards Djene, but Djene's indifference in response to the violence. She neither cried nor moved. I was astonished!
"How could she not cry?" I thought. I knew she must have been young, but it was not easy to guess her age. She was a girl who barely laughed or smiled, and neither did she seem to cry or make angry faces. She sometimes seemed like a stiff stick or a body without a soul.

As the new girl in the city, I had a lot to learn about my new neighborhood. One of my biggest curiosities was to get to know Djene. Who was she? What was she doing with the angry later? And ... Why did no one defend her from the cruel treatments of Khadia?

Stay tuned for part 2 in shaa Allah

The winner is Shaaira Muslimah for the poem titled The Muslimah!

March 2018 is the first month of the monthly writing competitions on Global Muslim Writers. The deadline for the first submission was postponed from January to February, but the final was the 7th of March to give people time to hear about GMW and submit their writing. Contestants had the option to submit either poems or short stories, but so far, every submission has been a poem.

It was a bit difficult to decide on the top two poems out of all the submissions. But, only two could have been chosen for publication. As the general rule of the monthly competitions, only two writings (from each of the four age groups) would be selected, published, then people would vote for the best writing out of the two, in shaa Allah. Read more about that here.

For this month's contest, all submitted writings were of the age group D (17-30). This means that for March 2018, the writing contest would only be for Group D and not the other three age groups. That's totally fine and probably only means that our readers are mainly from that age group.

It was a really fun and enlighting experience to read all the wonderful poems that were full of powerful messages. Jazakum Allahu khayr to all those who submitted their writings for this month.  

Now, the two (2) short-listed writing contestants for the month of March 2018 are:
'Ateeyah - Poem Titled: Unspoken Words *** and *** Shaaira Muslimah - Poem Titled: The Muslimah

Please show your support by clicking on the title of each poem above to read them. 
Once you've read each poem and have decided the one you believe should win first place, vote for the best poem of March 2018 on this page. 

You can vote from now, Thursday, March 8 until Saturday, March 10, 2018, at 11:00 PM GMT.

Vote Below

Please vote for only one contestant; only one time.
Jazak Allahu khayr.

The Best Poem (Group D) for March 2018 is...

Poem: Unspoken Words
Poem: The Muslimah
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Poem by: 'Ateeyah

Love, Longing, Grief, even Fear –
Feelings that need not be spoken,
By your heart that has been broken,
From my oblivious deeds causing you a tear.

Still, you’ve always stayed as my strength,
A strength that had been unknown to me,
‘Tis the mystery of your words that were never told,
And of your voices that were never heard,

But on this day, I shall write for you,
Those words I’ve already read,
Not from your lips but from your deeds,
And seal it with my hugs and kisses.

So hear and read every unspoken word,
May it mend every regretful wound,
For today I promise that you will find,
In my heart, your names carefully signed.

Country: Philippines 
Group D 
March 2018 Writing Contest

Poem by: Shaaira Muslimah

In a sea of colors; of fabrics and faces
Stands a black figure, like a black hole in the universe
A black hole, because people notice her being odd
But also avoid her as her symbolism is 'bad'.
She represents terrorism for the ignorant
Barbaric, illiterate, an oppressed woman
Being judged by the loose dress and veil she wears
By the same persons who tell not to judge a book by its cover.
Amidst the negative reactions
All the deafening unsolicited suggestions
She remains firm, beliefs never shaken
For she knows, she's upon the authentic commandment.
She doesn't need the approval of any man
For her sole goal is to please Ar-Rahman
She's not bothered even if her supporters aren't a fleet
For the hidayah of Allah, only a few are blessed with.
So every time a criticism is heard
She doesn't feel bad, she doesn't curse
Instead, she raises her hands to seek refuge from Allah
And expresses her gratitude for being a Muslimah.
She shoves the thought of tints and fashion trends
Even when she's the only one left untouched among her girl-friends
For she knows that her aim is modesty
And modesty can only be attained with simplicity.
Yet, she is no angel who's free from mistakes
Sins are committed, putting her imaan at stake
But she constantly strives to return to Allah
And reminds herself that this is only temporary dunya.
She keeps on exerting efforts to detach herself from this world
As she firmly believes in Allah's words
That what is with Allah in the Hereafter is more lasting and better
And that a believer should be in this world only like a traveler
She remains a stranger in this world; an outlier in society
Because she's on her way home to Jannah, with Allah Almighty.

Shaaira Muslimah

Country: Philippines 
Group D 
March 2018 Writing Contest

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