Disclaimer: We received a copy of the book for purposes of review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
One of the questions that will probably be on any parents mind and not just Muslim parents is how to talk to your child about sex. Firoza tackles this question for Muslim parents in her book, How to Talk to your Muslim Child about Sex.
As a child, and I am guessing that many Muslims around my age can relate, sex was a taboo subject. It came across as a dirty word to even say. Parents pulled you out of sex education but children still heard everything about it from their classmates. I remember talking to a Muslim friend about it after some school friends told me and I was confused about it all. This friend was disgusted about the concept of having sex and said her parents would never do anything like that. She told her mum, who in turn decided I was a bad influence and kept her daughter away from me.
Parents need to stop shying away from the topic and teach their children about it before they hear from others and hear incorrect information. To be blunt, it is more important than ever now to have this conversation with sex education being made compulsory in schools and the accessibility of porn on the internet. We as parents should be leading the conversation with children. No matter how much you try to shield your child from it, they will come across things and naturally be curious.
About the Author
I usually don’t read many ‘parenting’ books but for those that I do come across, one of the first things I look at is the author. How much experience they have to talk about the issue is important; the more experience they have the more likely the advice will be sound and worth listening to. The author Firoza Osman has two adult sons and has over 20 years of teaching experience with youth and adolescents. Her work experience includes working as a further education lecturer in the UK, educational assistant with a public school board and afterschool program manager for a Canadian Islamic non-profit organization delivering workshops to Muslim youth on healthy relationships.
The Book: How to Talk to Your Muslim Child about Sex
The book itself doesn’t dive straight into telling you how you should talk to your children about this topic or what to say but is split into three sections:
- The Challenge of Raising Children in a Digital World
- Building Connections for Our Children
- How and When to Talk about Sex
Writing the book with these chapters makes sense. Rather than simply telling you how to talk to your child about sex, the book explains the challenges we face and the importance of building connections.
Chapter 1: The Challenge of Raising Children in a Digital World
I wasn’t expecting this chapter, but it makes sense to include it. It shows why it is so important to be aware of what our children are being exposed to and why talking to them about it sooner rather than later. I was nodding away on the first page:
Parents need to be aware of the environment our children are being exposed to from the media and peers so we can anticipate the guidance that they’ll need. This awareness allows you to be proactively supportive of their needs.
As the writer states, we can’t keep our children innocent and naive until 17. She openly admits that her adult sons admitted that they were exposed to porn when they were at school and therefore it is important to have a talk with the children before they get to high school (secondary school).
Some of the pressures mentioned in this section include:
- Peer orientation
- Sex-obsessed culture
- Sexualisation of children
- Dangers of social media
and much more.
Once you have understood some of the issues this generation of children and parents are facing the author moves on to the next chapter.
Chapter 2: Building Connections for Our Children
If children don’t feel a connection at home, they will find it elsewhere. If you can help your children maintain a relationship with Allah, learn how to love themselves, and remain connected within the family unit, you will be helping them build the strong, healthy foundations that are needed for them to become dependable spouses and parents.
Building connections with your children is so important for everything. In this chapter the author covers aspects such as parenting styles, instilling a connection to Allah, building your childs self esteem, connecting with the family and much more.
Once you have understood the challenges and the importance of building connections, it should make it easier and slightly less uncomfortable to then talk to your child about sex.
Chapter 3: How and When to Talk about Sex
This is the section where Firoza mentions some of the areas that need to be discussed and how to approach some of the topics, covering things like pornography, the Islamic view on sexuality, premarital sex in the Quran and hadith, love versus infatuation and more.
The chapter covers how to support your child and examples and suggestions are given for:
- Five to Six Years
- 9-11 Years
- 12-14 years
- 15-17 years
Firoza uses her experience with youths, questions they asked and the discussions they had in this chapter.
She provides examples on how to approach some subjects such as puberty: An introduction to puberty could be, ‘Allah has made puberty a special time where your body is going to change to become an adult……..The bodies of both girls and boys are getting ready to make it possible for them to become mothers and fathers….’
Any statistics that Firoza uses are clearly referenced and further useful articles are also mentioned. And some of those statistics are eye opening!
There is so much more I could mention from the book but I will simply say that although some parents may disagree with Firoza’s stance, I would recommend this book just for the insight of the challenges our children face. She emphasis’s that we cannot control our children, especially when they go off to college and university but our role is to help and guide them to not cross the red line.
Firoza mentions how she had never met a gay person until adulthood and the same applies to me. However my 14 year old daughters friends recently admitted to her that they are lesbians and are a couple…no-one else knows but they trusted my daughter enough to tell her. However thankfully I had already had had a conversation with her about this so she knew and understood and is tolerant.
The fact is that our children are growing up in completely different times than what we did and are facing many more challenges. We can’t attempt to keep them in a bubble and be naive to think that they are not being exposed to anything. Our children are using the internet and no matter how much you monitor it or block things, there can be instances where something slips through that they should not be seeing. So even if your children aren’t actively looking for porn, it could pop up. I have heard instances of innocent children’s You tube video’s having unsuitable scenes in the middle of them.
Young children have access to smartphones and the internet. Even if you child doesn’t, their friends more than likely do and through them your children may be exposed to things you were trying to shield them from. Therefore it it vital you speak to them before they get their information from elsewhere and end up with incorrect facts and images of sex.
If you are interested in purchasing How to Talk to your Muslim Child About Sex and finding out more, then it is available from Amazon (affiliate link).
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