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Steps to Ease Dinner Stress for Stepfamilies

Some of the most intense challenges for stepfamilies unfold at the family dinner table.

In a stepfamily, the deepest bonds are typically those between the parent and his or her children, not between the stepparent and stepchildren.  The parent-child relationship shares so much history, not to mention unspoken agreements about everything from whether Grape Nuts is a form of cardboard or a breakfast food, to the appropriate use of cell phones at meals. The dinner table is a prime place where these rules and customs get played out. The stepparent, late to the party, may feel like a “stuck outsider.” The child’s parent is a “stuck insider,” closest to the stepparent, to his or her kids, and, for better or for worse, to their ex-spouse.

Dinner is also a time when children are reminded of how dramatically their family has changed.  The new couple relationship is a long-awaited, wonderful gift to the adults. For kids, however, it often means a loss of parental attention and yet another in a series of difficult changes.

For instance, mom’s new partner is now here during dinner, a time when kids really want her to focus on them. Children naturally come to the table needing to reach out to their own parent for connection and caring, not to the interloper who is stealing her attention.  They naturally want to share their stories with their parent, not with their new stepparent. Unfortunately, stepparents can find themselves sitting through entire meals without receiving any eye contact from their stepchildren or from their partners, who are absorbed in responding to their kids.

Click here to read more from thefamilydinnerproject.org

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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).