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How to Have a Well-Behaved Child, Part 1

I believe that children should be well-behaved.

Most parents, of course, want more for their children than just good behavior. We want them to become caring and responsible adults.

Still, more often than not, children who are cooperative and respect adult authority are also happy and confident children. They are able to bounce back from disappointments and frustrations, sustain effort on difficult tasks and get along with their peers. And the parents of well-behaved children are, undoubtedly, happier parents.

By all accounts, modern American children are very poorly behaved. Why is this so? And what can we do about it?

Many parents (and some parent advisors) believe that our children behave badly because we allow them to — that we are afraid to insist on obedience and respect. Critics of contemporary family life argue that we have turned our homes into “little democracies” in which children “determine their own upbringing” and have the right to argue about everything. As a group, the critics concur: Parents should be less afraid to say “No.”

For some families, this is sound advice. In my experience, for most families, it is not. Saying no, although necessary, is a small part of successful discipline.

Every week, parents tell me, “I’ve taken away all his privileges and things are just getting worse. He’s even more rude and disrespectful,” or “I tell him ‘No’ all the time, but he still doesn’t listen.”

These families are locked in vicious cycles of negative interactions. Then, as these cycles escalate, parents feel increasingly justified in their criticism and disapproval. And kids, for their part, feel increasingly justified in their resentment and defiance.

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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).