Challenges Faced By the Youth and Ways to Meet Them
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Category : FAMILY
Author : Madiha Javed
It is crucial that teens feel validated in their feelings and thoughts because what they are going through is a real part of their lives. Parents and guardians should not judge or criticize their feelings or thoughts. Being sensitive towards youths and the fact that they are exposed to a range of emotions during puberty, which is one of their most important experiences, is an important step in understanding their transition. Anger, confusion, jealousy, non-compliant attitudes, dislike towards their parents or elders, secrecy or high need for privacy etc. are a few examples of emotions or feelings they have. Defiant behavioural results from their inability to appropriately deal with the intensity of these emotions and aggravate common youth problems.

Young people, particularly in the age group between 13 and 19 face many challenges as this is the most awkward growth stage of their lives. During this time, youths are exposed to some overwhelming external and internal struggles. They go through and are expected to cope with hormonal changes, puberty, social and parental forces, work and school pressures, and so on. Many youths feel misunderstood. It is vital that their feelings and thoughts are validated and that the validation comes from their parents. Parents need to approach their children, who have been dealing with teenage growth issues, carefully and in a friendly manner to discuss their concerns.
The common teenage problems that teenagers face today are usually related to
  • Self-Esteem and Body Image
  • Stress
  • Bullying
  • Depression
  • Cyber Addiction
  • Drinking and Smoking
  • Teen Pregnancy
  • Underage Sex
  • Defiant Behaviors
  • Peer-Pressure and Competition
Not surprisingly, all of these common teenage problems are connected to one another, in some way. However, it does not mean that having one would lead to the other. Following are some of the important steps to build a healthy relationship with the teens and handle their concerns effectively.

Early Identification

Changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, declining interest in normal and healthy activities, dropping grades in school and college, and preferred isolation are all early signs of depression. Increased demands to perform, competing with friends, etc. may also lead to unwanted stress. Being vigilant towards these signs at an early stage may help to block or stop further damage and guide them towards healthy ways of dealing with their concerns.

Understanding Transition It is crucial that teens feel validated in their feelings and thoughts because what they are going through is a real part of their lives. Parents and guardians should not judge or criticize their feelings or thoughts. Being sensitive towards youths and the fact that they are exposed to a range of emotions during puberty, which is one of their most important experiences, is an important step in understanding their transition. Anger, confusion, jealousy, non-compliant attitudes, dislike towards their parents or elders, secrecy or high need for privacy etc. are a few examples of emotions or feelings they have. Defiant behavioural results from their inability to appropriately deal with the intensity of these emotions and aggravate common youth problems.
Transferring Knowledge One of the concerns that stem from curiosity and the need for independence or a sense of control can be experimenting with underage consumption of alcohol or drugs, physical intimacy or teenage pregnancy. It is often believed that educating the child about sex will lead to them wanting to experiment. However, that is a myth. Talking to your children will enable them to be informed and will remove the “taboo” from the topic. It’s no secret that the level of exposure youths has today, as a result of the Internet is unmatched. Cyber addiction is the fastest-growing problem amongst other common teenage problems. Parents should talk to their teens and make them conscious of cyber safety – and, how to protect themselves from the Internet. Parents may create a list of rules that clearly say when to use the internet, which sites they should visit and what safety measures they should follow and clearly discuss “WHY” for the same. However, timely, healthy, factual and regular conversation about these topics will help them make informed choices.

Respect

The youth’s opinion or decisions will enhance their self-confidence and self-esteem. Most youths’ ability to develop positive self-esteem is affected by family life and parental criticism. Making respect a mutual virtue will help in developing a stronger bond between parents and the child.

Rapport Every parent has a different outlook on parenting. A healthy relationship between the child and parents is the most essential during the teenage years. Communication is the key to developing a rapport, which results in the child feeling comfortable talking to their parents. Finding the correct balance between being a friend and a parent is important as this will help develop the required rapport. For e.g., teens facing body image concerns like being too fat, too skinny, too tall or too short will benefit from a balanced approach towards parenting, which may stem from good rapport.

Trust and Acceptance

Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Spying, cross-questioning or checking with friends or doubting will hamper the bond, leading to defiant behaviours such as lying, stealing, hiding and being disrespectful. It is important to accept your teens as they are and to build trust in them. This will help them trust and accept themselves as well as those in their immediate environment.

Communication and Safe Space A clear communication channel opens up many possibilities. This not only enhances the relationship but also helps the child confide in the parents about sensitive topics like bullying, peer pressure and abuse. Parents need to feel free to talk to their youths about certain common teenage problems like dating, sex, drugs, and alcohol. It is this inability to discuss the good and bad points that drives them to take the wrong steps out of curiosity. Effective use of communication will foster the building of trust, respect and acceptance between the youth and the parent. But none of these solutions work in isolation and a combination of some or all will be most effective. Narrated by ibn Abbas: Allah’s Apostle said, “Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth before you become old; health before you fall sick; richness before you become poor; free time before you become busy; and your life before your death.” [Musnad Imam Ahmad] If we take a careful look at young people, we will be able to conclude that they are generally of three categories: the upright; the corrupt; the confused.

The Upright Young People’s Issues

Upright young people are believers – in every sense of the word. They believe in their religion in such a way that they love it and are convinced by and content with it. They regard embracing it as profit and denial of it as a clear loss.

Corrupt Young People’s Issues

These are young people who are religiously deviating. They deviate from the straight path of their religion and from good manners in their behaviour.

“[They are] those whose effort is lost in worldly life, while they think that they are doing well in work.” [Quran 18: 104]

Confused Young People’s Issues They live in a mental and psychological whirlpool and stand in front of these trends in confusion, not knowing which of the two options is correct. They are largely found among those who have some Islamic education and culture but who on the other hand study mainly worldly sciences that run contrary to religion. Either in reality or according to their imaginations. Hence, they stand confused, between the two cultures.
Youth Problems are attributed to many factors, most prominent among them are Joblessness Joblessness is a disease that kills mental, intellectual, and physical capabilities. Evil and wicked intentions may occur to them as a result of the depression that befalls them due to their joblessness. The solution to this problem is that in order to be cured of this disease, the affected youth should develop interests that suit them like reading, writing, trading, or any other occupation that can stand between them and unemployment.

The estrangement between the youth and their elders

This problem manifests in a situation where some elders see corruption in young adults and just stand aloof without making any effort whatsoever to correct them, having lost hope in their reform. The solution to this problem is that elders also are requested to sense the responsibility towards young people. That rests upon their shoulders and eliminates from their minds ideas of hopelessness regarding the piety of the young. Young people, on their part, should hold their elders in high esteem. They should respect their views and accept their directives. Because they have achieved degrees of experience and realities of life that the young have not achieved.

Being in contact with corrupt people and keeping their company

This situation has a great deal of psychological, mental, and moral influence on young people. The solution to this problem is that young people should choose righteous people as their companions in order to benefit from their goodness and righteousness. They should consider people very carefully before befriending them by studying their conditions and reputations. If they happen to be of noble character, upright, religious, and of good reputation, they will be long-cherished. They should, therefore, stick with them. If, on the other hand, they happen to be people of the opposite character, the young people must be cautious of them, keep away from them, and should not be carried away by their sweet talk and nice outward appearance.
As someone has written,
“Study people, if you would like to take them as brethren; scrutinize their affairs and examine them.
If you are fortunate to find an intelligent and pious person Hold fast onto him happily with both hands.”

Reading and viewing destructive, un-Islamic material in books, magazines, TV or internet

These types of materials make youth sceptical about their religion and faith and drag them from excellent morality to the abyss of degeneration.
The solution to this problem is to immediately shift to writings and programs that inculcate the love of Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him) in one’s heart and those books help to actualize faith. There are many useful books that help in this situation. The most important of which is the noble Quran and its Tafseer.

Islam, in truth, does not impose restrictions on liberties. Rather, it regulates and perfectly controls them in such a way that one person’s liberty will not collide with another’s. One who wants absolute freedom will discover that he or she can have it only at the expense of other people’s rights. And if that should happen there will be a clash between the two.

“These are the limits [set by] Allah, so do not approach them.” [Quran 2: 187]
“These are the limits of Allah, so do not transgress them.” [Quran 2: 229]
Therefore, life as a whole involves submission to certain regulations so that things can move along according to set goals. If submission to the social regulations is for the betterment of society, Islamic regulations should also be expected for the well-being of the Ummah.

Personal experiences

Bad experiences at home, at the mosque, and with other Muslims can reinforce Islamophobic stereotypes and negativity shape their perceptions of Islam. A 20-year-old girl named Samina said, “I’ve actually felt better about my Islam when I don’t hang out with too many Muslims.
It allows me to tell myself that they don’t respect Islam. Otherwise, when I come to the masjid and see how girls are treated, I start believing that we are really backwards as they say we are.” In fact, most young people -especially women- feel like they aren’t welcome in their community by religious leadership.

Therapy is also affected by Islamophobia

With all these pressures leading to anxiety and loneliness and mental anguish, therapy is a huge part of healing. But if a non-Muslim therapist unconsciously or subconsciously believes that the religion itself is an issue, then they may sway their patients away from it to “save them.”
If a non-Muslim female psychologist assumes that the hijab is oppressive against women, she may unconsciously try to steer her client away from covering, instead of understanding the significance of the hijab in her own Muslim client’s life.

So, what’s the solution?
There are 6 key areas to this proble

1. Strong Muslim role models
2. Conviction and confidence in Islam
3. Supportive community
4. Supportive family
5. Feeling valued
6. Contributing to society

How does Allah help young people? From the Quran, we learn about the story related to the Muslim youth in Surah Al-Kahf. The story of the seven sleepers, or the “companions of the cave”, is narrated in the 18th chapter of the Quran. This story has great lessons for everyone, especially young Muslims. It was revealed to Prophet Muhammad SAW as the response to a test by the Quraish in Madinah. The latter sent a message to the Jewish rabbis, to ask Prophet Muhammad about these youths, among other things. For the youth mentioned in the Surah, there were miracles as rewards and protection. The Quran mentions the many ways that Allah rewarded these young men. Miracles of sorts happened to them, as a reward for their steadfastness and patience. It is not easy at all to do what these brave youths had done. At their age, taking a stand before authority figures is unimaginable. They did not just remain steadfast upon true faith once it blossomed in their hearts, they also proclaimed this faith before a tyrannical king. Allah granted them refuge in a cave in the wilderness. “…That was from the signs of Allah…” [Quran 18:17] On awaking, they thought that they had slept just one day or a part of it. This makes it clear that they had not aged at all in the centuries that they were asleep. They were still young men and upon true faith. Their archenemies, however, along with their idols, wealth, and ethos, had died long, long ago. There is immense benefit in the story of the seven sleepers, for anyone who reflects. Youth is a time of life that is fleeting. Few young people have the strength to face opposition, marginalization, and persecution from peers. Let alone from their families, society, elders, wider communities and political leaders. Young people often do not possess the clout or economic power to ward off serious harm to their life. Keeping this in mind, it is amazing how strong these seven young men were, in faith. Further, Allah granted them steadfastness and patience in the face of severe adversity. They gave up their families, homes, wealth, and prosperous futures, all for the sake of Allah. These are just some lessons that today’s Muslim youth can glean from their inspiring example:
and political level. However, the change happens over time. So, we should never underestimate the power of true, sincere faith in Allah. •Allah tests those whom He loves. When someone believes in Allah, Allah tests him or her in their family, wealth, and status. At times, a young person temporarily loses these blessings when they proclaim their faith. Yet, if he or she passes the test, these blessings return to their lives, in better form. •When a sincere believer passes the tests that Allah puts them through, the rewards are other-worldly. Miracles of sorts can happen to such believers. Especially when it comes to being protected from the harm that people intend to inflict. The divine protection that borders on the miraculous, is a special gift that Allah reserves for His special slaves. •Fleeing from a place or people, to ward off serious harm to one’s faith, is prescribed in Islam. Only time tells who is truly victorious. Many tyrants gloat and rejoice when they kill someone unjustly. Yet, Allah’s punishment descends upon them slowly, but surely. At first, it might have seemed as if the disbelieving king had ‘won’, and the seven youths ‘lost’. This was when they ran away and retreated to their cave. The king and his disciples might have scoffed at how these youths ran away. Yet, we should ponder, who got ‘the last laugh’? When these youths awoke, they hadn’t even aged. Their faith and selves were intact. Yet, their enemies — the king and their townspeople, — were long dead and gone. Muslim youth today should also opt for long-term success in religion, over temporary worldly gains. •The earth is vast for the believer. We focus much on community acceptance, social prestige, wealth, and our status among the people. We pigeon-hole ourselves into the limited lifestyle that society tells us to adopt. Yet, the Quran teaches us the opposite. That even a cave can serve as a sanctuary for the believer who has the courage to take a stand for the sake of Allah. And Allah knows the best.

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