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The Real Full House: 9 Ways to Thrive in Mixed-Family Households

For both cultural and financial reasons (as well as other reasons), many family units with children live in the same homes as their extended families. Whether you live with your parents, your in-laws, or some other combination of family members, this living situation comes with unique benefits and challenges.

The perks are many. Your children will have the privilege of living in a home full of people who love them and who have rich and diverse experiences. Having loving grandparents and fun uncles and aunts around can lead to a wonderful and memorable childhood for your kids. Extended family members may also speak a second language, and learning that language is significantly easier for your child if those around him or her are speaking it.

If those family members are able and willing to help care for your child, the benefits of that can be far-reaching: from being able to take a shower without worrying about your curious toddler breaking everything you own, to having the reassurance that you are leaving your child in the care of people you trust when you need to run errands or go to work.

That being said, regardless of how loving your extended family is, having multiple family units living together can be a source of conflict. You will need to practice an immense amount of patience.

From my own experiences living in a mixed-family home, and after hearing from a number of women who live or have lived in this set-up, I have compiled a list of nine ways to thrive with your child in your shared home:

1. Stay Positive and Stay Flexible:

Assume the best of your family members. Unless they have blatantly shown disregard for you or your children, assume that they are loving individuals who have your best interests at heart. Stay as optimistic as possible. If they do something to annoy you, give them the benefit of the doubt.

Be open to taking suggestions and advice from older family members. They have a lot to offer and it makes them feel valued to be a part of your child’s upbringing! It should nonetheless be clear that as the child’s parent, you are the ultimate authority and will make the decisions you see as best.

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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).