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Friday, March 25, 2005

20 Tips to teach your young kids

How to handle Pornography

Some parents might think the only way to stop the infiltration of pornography into the minds of their children is by simply cutting off the source of the material. They would consider, for instance, not even installing or disconnecting the internet from the home.
But while this may solve the problem temporarily, it does not teach young Muslims how to deal with this material when they see it everywhere else: on television, billboards on the street, or magazines, for instance.
Nor does it encourage them to avoid this material when they have the opportunity to look at it outside of parental control.
Below are some tips to help your child avoid pornography whenever and wherever he or she encounters it. Please note though, this is not a comprehensive list of possibilities, nor should all of the strategies presented be used on your child. Choose the right ones that can help him or her depending on age, and previous exposure to pornography.

Tip #1: Establish your right and authority as a parent to know
This is not something done by yelling and screaming. It's done calmly in all aspects of family life, and should be made clear on other issues, like who has the final say to decide when is bedtime or who decides 14-year-old Ilyas's curfew. Establish parental authority gently and wisely. It's easier to do this when kids are young.

Tip #2: Know the Islamic perspective yourself
Obviously, you cannot give the Islamic perspective by simply talking off the top of your head. You'll need to do your homework. That means finding where in the Quran and Sunnah it says Muslims cannot look at this kind of material.
Additional research could also be done to find more reasons to not look at pornography-for instance, the danger to one's health, concentration, and the way it portrays human beings moms, sisters and daughters.

Tip #3: Teach by example
A son who sees his father ogling dirty magazines, episodes of Baywatch or sneaking peeks at XXX rated sites will, in most cases, not learn to lower his gaze, let alone respect most other aspects of Islamic modesty. Not to mention this dad will have some answering to do in the Court of Allah.

Tip #4: Instill accountability to Allah
Kids need to be gently reminded that Allah, who is very Merciful and Kind, is always watching them, even when mom and dad are not. That means not only should a person be good in front of parents, but more importantly, in front of Allah, who is always watching. This must be done in a way which does not scare the child or make him or her feel resentment towards Allah. Remind your son or daughter that the long-term payoff of this will be that they will be rewarded or punished for their deeds, Insha Allah.

Tip #5: Warn them about Allah's punishment and the Hellfire
While this should not be the sole focus of any Islamic upbringing, when it comes to the issue of pornography, reminding kids of Allah's punishment and the Hellfire could help them. But what should also be mentioned is that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful and if anyone asks His forgiveness and stops doing the wrong thing they were previously involved in, Insha Allah, Allah will forgive them.

Tip #6: Watch TV with them
You can do this by simply taking the remote control, and every time a scene comes up which is inappropriate, quickly changing the channel and making a sound of disgust. This can be used as a form of conditioning, where your child will see pornographic and/or inappropriate material (i.e. nudity, sexual situations, kissing, touching, etc.) and know that this is wrong by your reaction. He or she will associate the two, and Insha Allah, avoid looking at the material even if not under your supervision. Do the same for the internet, magazines and anywhere else it is found. This does not mean seeking these sites or magazines. Rather, when they are encountered, use that moment to show your reaction.

Tip #7: Make family time
Why do people turn to the media, whether it's television or the internet? Because apart from trying to learn or research something or communicating by e-mail, they have time to kill. In other words, they're often bored.
This is why family time at least once a week is important. Whether it's taking everyone out for ice cream on Friday night, going to the Masjid as a family on Sundays for classes and Halaqas, or playing a board game together, keeping the kids entertained the Halal way, together as a family, will reduce boredom and the need to turn to TV and the internet to have fun.

Tip #8: Get them involved in Halal activities
Is there a good young Muslim boys or girls group in your city? Get your son or daughter to join. If not, start one up with the cooperation of other parents. Also, get them involved in things like sports and helping the community, to keep them busy in Halal activities.

Tip #9: Check their friends
More often than not, kids get their information about sex from friends, who often end up misleading them, instead of guiding them. The same is true when it comes to pornographic material. If some friends of your children, you notice, are not involve with Islam or in wrong stuff, warn him or her. If they persist, talk to the parents, and if that does not work, keep your child away from this kid.
By the same token, help your kids befriend those who are practicing Muslims of the same age, who can provide them with fun and companionship, without sacrificing their Islamic principles.

Tip #10: Get involved with their school
If you want to really know what kind of material your kid is being taught and what kinds of ideas he or she is being exposed to, helping out in school is your ticket. Involvement brings access to teachers, the principal and discussion on what is being taught and what's talked about in class discussions. It also means that when you have something to say about the kind of material being viewed or talked about in your child's classroom, your opinion is more likely to be listened to.

Tip #11: When they're old enough, talk about pornography
This should be done in the context of a discussion on modesty, and it should be done discreetly, in a gradual way, according to their age . Talk openly and clearly, asking their opinion about this issue (this is a great way to indirectly find out what friends and peers at school are saying or doing about it), and give them the Islamic perspective.

Tip #12: Install filters or get an internet service which is porn free:
There are many safe surfing tools available for internet and there are TV sets which come equipped for parental blocking of some channels. Invest in these technologies.

Tip #13: Establish the ground rules when you get the internet
A good time to discuss the issue is when the internet is first installed in your home. Apart from setting hours for internet use for every family member, you can also make it clear what kind of material is acceptable to view or not.

Tip #14: Control of the password
To surf the internet, you usually need a password to access it from your computer. The only people in the house who should have this password when the kids are young are mom and dad. No one else. Parents should also keep changing it every couple of weeks or months so the kids don't figure it out.

Tip #15: Keep the computer and TV of the house in a high traffic area
It's harder to watch haram if the computer is in the living room or dining room.

Tip #16: If you catch them looking, get proof before you confront them
Don't respond in this kind of situation by losing your cool. Instead, gather all of the proof you can that they have gone on this site(s) or been looking at these kinds of magazines, for instance, first. This can be done by going to History on the menu bar of your browser to see which sites he or she viewed or has been viewing. You need to be very careful on how you do this. Because unnecessary suspicion may tell them that you do not trust them.

Tip #17: Assume the best and confront them
Don't attack Amina or Junaid if you've caught him/her. Talk openly without accusation. Confront them with the information you've found and ask why they were looking at these sites. If they say it was out of their control, it just came up while they were surfing, take their word for it. But mention again accountability to Allah and His punishment, and talk about trust- how it is broken when these type of things happen intentionally (and assume they are innocent).

Tip #18: Chaperone internet time, sometimes
This can be done occasionally, or it can be done regularly. But it's a good idea to have a "pop inspection", so the kids know mom or dad are watching while they surf or watch television. You could use the opportunity to show them some cool Islamic sites or the Discovery Channel, so they don't feel they are being pronounced guilty until proven innocent.

Tip #19: Have them build their own fabulous Islamic website
Help them build a great Islamic kids' home page or website, full of bright color, games, quizzes, and generally cool stuff so they can help other kids surf right too.

Tip #20: Consider removing the internet, cable, or TV, in the case of repeat offenses
If such sites continue to show up when you check on your kids, or one of them, warn them that if it happens again, the internet will be removed from the home permanently.

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