Do not let your child wear earbuds.

The problem with ear buds:
Three weeks ago I took my daughter to the doctor. She was complaining of ear pain and that she couldn’t hear very well. In the two weeks before the visit she’d had the same complaint. I tried to help her by using an over-the-counter ear wax removal kit. This was the second time in the last year that I had to remove impacted ear wax. Although at first it did give her some relief, the problem reoccurred.
I believe the problem was caused by the ear buds that she uses for her phone. She wears these buds almost non-stop. Sun up to sun down. If you see her, you see the wires coming from her ears. I strongly discourage this usage. But at sixteen I am allowing her a little more freedom to make more choices for herself. Her choice – ear buds!
When I tried to remove the ear wax the second time, it only gave her minimal relief. The OTC medication suggested trying the removal for several days. Several days later, she could barely hear out of her ear and the pain was excruciating. I looked at the ear buds in frustration. Now she was only wearing one but she was still using the buds. I took her to the doctor. The doctor confirmed my hunch. Ear buds are a problem. Teens push the buds down into the ear canal. Ear canals were not designed to have things inserted into them. This can lead to impacted wax and directing loud noises into the canal can lead to hearing loss. But her doctor understood my struggle. She told me, her own children insist on wearing the buds. And she has concerns about their long term hearing ability.

What are the dangers:
According to the Whittier Hospital Medical Center’s blog: Earbuds can hurt our ears in 3 ways.
1. They prevent was from secreting out of the ear canal. This causes wax to build up and become impacted.

2. The buds carry dirt and bacteria which can cause ears to become infected.

3. Excessive sound volume can damage the eardrum and the inner ear.

What are the solutions:
1. Try to convince your child to use traditional over the ear earphones. They still pose some concerns, but the danger is less.

2. Reduce or restrict the time that your child can wear earbuds.

3. Teach them to make sure their earbuds are always clean, every time they wear them.

4. Use the phone or device settings to reduce the volume levels.

5. Teach your child what is a normal volume. The setting should not be much higher than conversational speech. If you can hear what they are listening to – it’s too loud.


Would it be easier to just ban all earphones?
Yes, that would be awesome! But very unlikely. Headphone have become a part of our lives. While they may not be particularly healthy they are useful. My children use it to listen to the Quran when they are all studying at the same time. Al hamdulillah, this modern invention allows them to listen and recite with reciters from all over the world. It also allows them to listen to and be entertained by their devices without disturbing other family members. Family members who may be praying or reading the Quran. So, headphones can be beneficial to us as Muslims. They can be used to help us encourage our children in acts of worship. But like everything else – moderation and balance is key.

Conclusion:
Let them wear the headphones. Encourage the over-the-ear phones and avoid ear buds. Try to follow the recommendations listed above. Be quick to respond to any symptoms. I waited two weeks before I took her to the doctor. During this time her infection increased in both severity and discomfort. I wish I had at least called the doctor and gotten her advice. I assumed that the problem was impacted wax. But I never imagined that this wax could cause an infection. As parents we have to be vigilant about our children’s health and safety. But we also have to teach our children to be just as vigilant. May Allah protect our children from every possible harm, Ameen.

(Author’s note: this blog is an opinion piece and as such is not a substitute for advice from a licensed professional.)

Getting your baby ready for the baby.

When do you tell your child that your are pregnant?

My first 2 children were born twenty months apart. I was enjoying the first baby. When, SURPRISE, I found out I was pregnant. I sorted through a mash-up of emotions before settling on happiness. It was embarrassing, as a newlywed, I wondered if people would think that making babies was all we did! (It was not!) I wondered why we hadn’t taken more precautions. But years of fibroid-related fertility problems had convinced me that a second pregnancy was unlikely. (Especially since I was still breastfeeding…a lot!) I worried about how I would manage a job, a husband a one-year-old, and pregnancy. After I stopped worrying about the pregnancy, I started worrying about handling a two-year-old and a new baby. Looking back, I’m sure those wonderful pregnancy hormones contributed to my anxious and emotional state. But hormone-induced or not, the struggle was real. And I had to get my baby ready, to no longer be the baby. 

When to tell your child you are pregnant?

The first decision I made involved telling my child. I didn’t want to start preparing her too early. I know that if you tell a child something is going to happen and it doesn’t, they don’t understand. For a two-year-old, a two- or three-month advance notice was plenty of time. I would have waited later. But I had to explain my growing belly bump and why we couldn’t do certain thing anymore, like breastfeeding.

Can you continue to breastfeed while pregnant? 

Absolutely! It is possible for your body to feed both children at the same time. But, as my doctor explained to me; “Your body is going to feed the fetus first, the nursing baby second and you last.” This means that you don’t get the nutrients that you need. I stubbornly persisted. Breastfeeding was our special time. We bonded, cuddled and just loved on each other. How could I ask her to give it up for a new baby, like she wasn’t important anymore? Okay, here the pregnancy hormones might have been kicking in again. Because I was unbearably sad thinking about weaning her. Then I started to see my doctor’s predictions come true. I was drained even with extra supplements, eating right, and increasing fluids. My nails were weak, chipping and breaking. My hair thinned and fell out, leaving bald patches in the back of my scalp. I didn’t have energy to play with or read to her. So even without weaning, she was still losing some of our connection. It was time to wean. But I was determined to never let her feel that she was being weaned because of the new baby. Even though I hadn’t yet told her, I didn’t want her to connect those dots, when I did.

How to tell your child about the new baby?

My daughter was very young. I didn’t want her to feel like we didn’t love her anymore. That she wasn’t also our baby. I also didn’t want her to feel like the baby was ours and not also hers. I wanted her to feel, even before the baby came home, that this was a gift a blessing for the entire family.  The most important thing here are: your words and your actions. I used words like: “our baby”. But I also used words like, “your baby”. I tried to get her to feel included. I never said things like, “we can’t do this, because of the baby”. Because I didn’t want her to feel any resentment.  

When I told her, I kept it very simple. (Remember she was not quite two.) I prepped her in the weeks leading up to the announcement. We read story books about welcoming a new baby. Because she was so young, I bought her a doll and began calling it her baby. I used language and actions that I wanted her to model. I would tell her; “Give your baby a kiss”. “You love your baby, don’t you? Hug your baby. You’re my baby. Let me give you a kiss and a hug.  And now I will kiss your baby. We have to love babies.” As you can see we role played. Lots of careful thought went into pre-addressing what I thought would be her concerns. It was designed to build a loving attitude towards the baby. On the day I told her, I put her hands on my belly. I said, “Mommy has a baby in her tummy tool. Just like in the book and we are going to have a new baby in our house.” It was very simple. But once she knew, I began referencing it all the time. And I would invite her to kiss the baby (in my belly) all the time. Saying something like “Oh the baby is moving; he might need you to rub him”. I think if you prepare and make dua (pray) about it. The words will come easy.

Helping your child to help themselves:

Because she was my first, I had been babying her for her short eighteen-month life. I still feel that was okay. But now that her life was changing, I had to get her ready for that change. And let her do somethings, that I knew she was capable of, on her own. I began giving up more of my cherished lap time to her father. I knew two laps would make it easier. And Al Hamdulillah, we had two laps in the house. I wanted her to get used to going to someone else as an equal source of comfort. I also got her used to small things like eating in her chair. We didn’t get her to sleep in her bed. That was not happening! But I did get her used to sleeping on her father’s side. She also learned to take a nap in her bed. I stopped holding her hand for everything. Because I knew that I wouldn’t always have two hands free. I also taught her how to do some small things for herself. For example; “bring me a diaper and the wipes”. Because I anticipated having a c-section, I knew I would need her help. I also knew that she could help me with some of these small things and she did.

How to get your child helping with the new baby. 

She was used to climbing all over me. I took “No don’t jump on my belly.” And changed it to, “Use gentle hands.” But I started taking her hands and helping her to gently stroke my belly. Teaching her this motion means; gently or softly. I knew it wouldn’t be enough to tell her to be gentle, if I hadn’t demonstrated what a gentle touch is. And even with demonstrating, I knew that we also needed to practice and practice soft gentle touches. We practiced holding a baby. Something I knew she would want to do. But I made sure to teach her that you can only pick up or hold the baby with mommy’s help. We tried potty training, but she wasn’t ready. But she was able to put her plate and fork in the sink. She could pick up her toys without help. She did learn to put on her shoes and take off her coat. All things that she could have been doing, and all things that I had been doing for her. 

Dealing with anxiety over the new baby:

Some children don’t know or exactly understand what is happening. Even though they don’t fully comprehend, they still react. Sleeping more, regressing to baby talk, wetting the bed, refusing to use the potty, crying more frequently or being clingy can be a lot to deal with when you are also managing a pregnancy and your own anxiety. But with everything in life and parenting, sabr – patience is key. Recognize that this is still your baby and they are in distress. Offer extra comfort and affection if they request or need it. This is not babying. This is teaching your child that I am still someone you can trust to be here for you. Reward generously (not with food) and profusely when they do the behaviors you want to encourage. Children love when adults are amazed and proud of them. You can express this verbally and non-verbally. Read to them, talk to them, reassure them, and most importantly listen to them. There are a lot of ways to let your child know that you still care and that they have your attention. They want to be the focus of that attention. Sometimes you won’t have time. But let them know that; “I will be with you in a minute.” And when you get that minute, don’t shortchange them. Give them your pure and undistracted attention. Get down on their level, get physically close to them and focus. A fifteen-minute quality focused session can change your whole relationship with your child. When the time draws to a close and they want more time. Let them know you that have to move on but that you will give them more time later. And DO IT! Once they see that you will keep your word, then they won’t fuss as much when you must leave because they are confident of your return. Never compare them to other children. Praise the behavior of other children without comparing them. For example; “I really like how Isa always puts his shoes away. Isa you’re doing a good job.” With consistent reassurance, affection and praise, they will move past their anxiety. 

Conclusion:

Thank Allah (God) every day for the wonderful gift of a new child. Of course, it will be challenging. Of course, it will come with some difficulty. But Allah doesn’t give anyone a burden that they can’t bear. If He brought you to it, that means He will bring you through it. And after “every difficulty, there will be ease.” This is His promise, and His word is true. I pray Allah will make it easy for you and your family, Ameen.

At what age should I start potty training?

Salaam (Peace),

When should I start potty training?

Almost every concerned parent, at the preschool where I worked, asked this question. This is one milestone we all are waiting for. That blessed day when we don’t have to see, change, or buy another diaper!
For some of us, there is little choice. We have to leave our child at a daycare or with a sitter who only accepts children who are potty trained. Some of us are just ready to get it over with. Especially, when helpful relatives or friends question us. “He’s still not potty trained…?” Comparisons to their potty training whiz kid, with things like, “Oh Yusuf was using the potty all by himself by the time he was…” are not helpful. So when should you start?

1. Start when he is able.

Able – means that the child is physically capable of using the bathroom. Specifically can the child hold their urine? You will have clues that the child is able to “hold their urine,” when they wake up and their diaper is dry. As they get older they will also stay dry for longer periods of time. Some children don’t have the physical capability even though they understand the concept. It is cruel to try to force a child to do anything that is beyond their capability.

2. Start when they understand.

Understand – means they can recognize the physical cues and understand that the cues mean it is time to use the potty. You can help by teaching them their physical cues. For example, you might see your child doing the “potty dance” hopping back and forth, and bouncing around. Ask the child, “do you need to use the potty.” Follow up by putting them on the pot. If they go you can tell them, “see you did need to use the potty and you did it!” Every child has cues and you will learn these together. Some kids do the dance, others run and stand in a corner. But these actions show a growing awareness of their body’s cues.

3. Start when they can communicate.

Communicate – means they can express that they need to use the potty. This is not always verbal! It may be pulling your hand, or going to the bathroom, reaching or pointing to themselves. Hopefully, they will be able to tell you. But if they can’t, as long as they can communicate the need to you, then they are ready.

4. Start when you have the time.

Time – means that you are not rushed. You have the time to consistently and patiently work with your child to guide them on this journey. Yes, part of, “is my child ready” depends on you. Are you ready? You have to be ready to take your child EVERY time you see the cues or he tells you that he needs to go. There will be a lot of false alarms. Recognize that potty time might be fun time. Especially if you have one of those fun, musical, talking toilets. (Which I don’t recommend!) But you have to take him each and every time he requests it.

5. Start when they want to.

Want – means when the child tells you. “I want to use the potty.” They might say it in different ways. But they might begin to show an interest in sitting on the potty or changing their own diapers. They sometimes begin to feel like, I want this nasty thing off of my body. Many children will sometimes say, “I boo boo.” And they will look at you as if to say, get it off. If it bothers them then they are ready to learn. But this is the one that is optional. Some children don’t mind being dirty at all. So we can’t wait for that child to “want” to potty train. If they are able, can communicate, and they understand, then they are ready.

Conclusion:

Can I start before all of these steps.

Absolutely, and sometimes you have no choice! But these 5 conditions are the things that will make it much easier. My personal advice from 3 children and even more as a preschool teacher is: Prep your child with books and videos and talks before you start, Reward outrageously (not with food) but with songs, cheers, stickers and overwhelming enthusiasm and Be consistent. And even then it might not work if the child just isn’t ready. Especially if they’re not physiologically ready. And if the child is too resistant or not able, don’t continue to force them. Back off give it a few months or until they mature a little more and then try again. Here’s the advice my mom gave me when I was completely frustrated. She asked me patiently. Have you ever met a (normal, healthy) adult who couldn’t use the bathroom? Of course not. That’s because eventually, they will get it, everybody does!
I am including a few recommendations for potty training. The first is a good book on potty training techniques which work for many parents. The other books are some of my favorites. I used these books to read to toddlers to help them get used to the idea. (Note: These are affiliate links and I may receive a commission – at no additonal cost to you- when you buy products that I am genuinely excited about.)

This book is for parents, And by the way Dr McCoy, if you get a chance you should definitely check out her awesome blog: http://www.themompsychologist.com

This book is an oldie but a goodie, I love the line…he sat and sat and sat and sat…. Yes, Al Hamdulillah he sat! lol

    

These 2 are newer but the kids really enjoyed them…

While the first book is funny, this book is very sweet.

One more for you to try. I could go on and on. I love reading to children and I love picking out books for you to enjoy with your little ones. They learn so much when we read to them!

    

Should Muslims Cancel Netflix because of Cuties?

Maybe you missed all the uproar over the movie “Cuties” which is now streaming on Netflix. The movie is about: “A talented 11-year-old girl (who) joins a hip-hop dance troupe”. Although it sounds innocent, the movie is not. The 11 year olds engage in twerking, sexting, and watching pornography on a cell phone. The girls are often in sexually exploitative positions as characters and as actresses. The abhorrent behavior is causing righteous indignation across party lines. Sen. Ted Cruz is even calling for an investigation to determine if Netflix violated any child pornography laws. The cancel culture is serious about this movie!


Should Muslims (or anybody) cancel their Netflix subscription because of this movie? Honestly, that’s up to you. I am not, even though I am appalled by the content. But I am even more appalled by the hypersexuality that our children witness everyday. If this movie helps to rip the blindfold off of our eyes, then I applaud it while also hating it. But for anyone who has been observing what is going on in our society, this movie is no surprise. This moral desensitization has been building for a while now.


When I go in the store to buy summer clothes for my kids I’m shocked. The shorts for my son hang past his knees, while the ones for my daughter barely cover her butt. Not modest enough to wear even inside of the house! Television shows portray tweens in romantic relationships. Relationships that they cannot possibly handle at that age. By high school they believe that everyone has had sex and that virginity will make you an outcast. Singers like Cardi B and Meghan Thee Stallion convince them that strong empowered women are promiscuous. And a song like WAP can crack the top 20 when years ago it wouldn’t have EVER been produced.


I’m heartened to know that we can still be outraged. That we still care enough about our girls to be concerned about this movie. But I also care about these facts. Child sex trafficking is at an alarming rate. During the pandemic the number of online “enticements” of children has increased by 90%. Child sex trafficking accounts for 30 percent of all human trafficking. And in this country 52% of sex trafficking victims are Black or Latino. We have a real problem in this country and in this world. This problem didn’t start with “Cuties” and it won’t end with “Cuties”, unless we end it.
I’m including some links to organizations that are working to solve this problem. Feel free to check them out or find an organization in your community to assist. Taking these actions might do more to help an endangered child than canceling your Netflix membership. But any action at all will help more than no action at all.

https://www.missingkids.org/education

Why should Muslims Homeschool?

Q. Why should Muslims homeschool? A. The immorality, bullying, Islamophobia and violence that plague many of our schools are neither conducive to learning or developing Islamic character and values.  That is the short answer to a complex question. When cities arrange special police patrols to help children safely arrive and leave school . Or when hijabis are taunted and told to “go back to where you came from.” When children endure months of bullying with no relief from their school.  When relationships of every kind, straight, bi and gay, are accomodated at schools. When students are allowed to freely walk through the halls, holding hands and kissing. You have to ask yourself, how much learning takes place? Are our students spending their day navigating, avoiding and sometimes participating in these  situations.
 
As Muslims we can all spout off hadith where the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. encouraged learning even if you have to go to China.  Or where he ordained the freeing of captives if they would teach someone to read.  Every Muslim knows that the first word of the Quran was “iqra,” usually translated as “read”. This established the link between Islam and education forever.  Education in Islam is both an obligation and a duty. We understand this, but do we understand what real learning is?
 
Learning is not just the processing and memorization of facts and ideas.  Schools today are navigating the same issues as their students, and very little learning is taking place.  Instead teachers focus on teaching the common core. Facts and ideas that students are expected to learn, memorize and master.  Mastery of these facts are gauged on achievement tests. The higher the score or grade marks a child as successful or not.  But learning is more than success on a test. Your child has learned when they can take the facts of various subjects and pull them together to generate new ideas, conclusions and apply that thinking to everyday life.  Taking what they have learned to the “next level”.  Next level thinking requires creativity and critical thinking. Two critical skills not taught in schools.  It was this next level thinking that allowed early Muslims to take ayats from the Quran and make revolutionary advances in diverse fields like  algebra, astronomy and optometry Are we raising the next generation of Muslim inventors, scientists, philosophers etc?  Are we raising community leaders and activitsts?
 
Teachers in today’s schools don’t have the time or the manpower to help children achieve their individual genius and potential. To help each child find and master their potential takes individual learning in one on one or small group settings Teachers also are not equipped or even encouraged to help children facing moral dilemmas. Teachers are not there to help your child stay on the “siratul mustaqeen. (the straight path).  Everyday your child is in a “jihad” a struggle against forces that want to take him away from his deen.  That struggle may be overt or subtle. But it is a relentless daily pressure, to conform and “be like everyone else.”  Is it any wonder, given this unrelenting stress, that many of our children leave the deen by the time they are in college.
 
There are many alternatives to the traditional schools that are failing our children so badly Many communities have full time Islamic schools that educate children very well in safe, smaller settings in an Islamic environment There are also some private schools which although not Islamic, do provide a safer place to foster true and creative learning.  Some times these options are not available, either because of location or expense. Homeschooling can become another possible alternative.  Homeschooling is not a good fit for every family.  It is not easy.  It is time consuming and can cost money.  But for those who are able and willing the benefits can be enormous and rewarding.
 
Should you homeschool your Muslim child? The answer is YES!!!  If it will help protect your child’s iman, give them a better academic and Islamic education and provide learning in a safe enviornment.  If you can provide these three things then you should homeschool.