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5 Habits for Parents Raising Bilingual Children

The custom is to make resolutions for the new year, but as we all know, most of them fall by the wayside well before the shops start stocking chocolate for Valentine’s Day. As a parent of a bilingual child, what could you do instead? My advice is to forget about resolutions and think more about habits. A habit is not as onerous as a resolution. With a resolution, if you fail once, you have broken the promise you made and that’s it – the resolution has melted away to the taste of the chocolate in your mouth. With a habit you can just pick it up again and keep going. That means less pressure, which can only be good for parents, especially when it comes to something like bringing up bilingual children. Here are five habits for you to implement into your daily life throughout the year – if you already have these habits, treat yourself to a … nice fruit salad!

1. Have patience

It takes time to create something great – it might sometimes feel that your little one takes far too much time to utter those first words in your language, puts a sentence together or knows which word belongs to which language. Learning a language, never mind two or three languages is actually a humongous task and we are all different. Your child (like my younger daughter) might belong to those who need to take more time to get ready to speak. If you are truly concerned, speak to a language therapist who is used to dealing with bilingual children.

Also remember to have patience on those days when you think that you are not on track with your language plan for your kids. It is not a personal attack on you if they respond in the “wrong” language, nor does it mean that they have given up on the language. Circumstances change and it is important that you change with them if need be – by increasing the amount of language exposure, staying even more consistent or asking for others’ help.

Make patience a habit.

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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).