Making Ramadan Summers the best for your kids!

Ramadan 2016 is unique because it starts right when summer break commences. Coincidentally, Ramadan also ends around July 4th. What do teenagers do during the summer break?  Many use this time to relax, play video games, sleep, visit friends and waste time. To be fair, some are hardworking as well and use the summer to learn more. But with Ramadan around the corner, many parents need to fill out this equation: Teenagers on Summer Break + Ramadan = [fill in the blank]. The answer is simple. You can fill in whatever you want. In other words, if you have a plan for your teens to make the best of this Ramadan, then you’ve answered the equation correctly. But if you don’t have a plan, your kids will end up wasting Ramadan and their summer break. If you expect them to be lazy, they will be lazy. Because it is hot and they are fasting, they are more than likely to just stay home and not take advantage of this combination. But with summer and fasting combined, what activities can you do? Below are a few suggestions my wife and I compiled to make your teens productive and enjoy Ramadan.

  1. Change the Mindset – Instead of dreading the thought of the extra fatigue associated with fasting idle-teenagers wasting their summer away, think of this time as a rare opportunity to connect with your kids. Because in a few years, Ramadan will creep into May and April and by then your kids won’t have the free time to capitalize on Ramadan when they are in school. With homework and Ramadan, your kids will most likely be exhausted and miss taraweeh. Additionally, teens aren’t ready to sit all day and do thikr and pray all night. It’s hard to expect these things from them. But use this opportunity to push them to their limits. Why? If they aren’t pushed at this time, they will never push themselves. But don’t push them to the point where any sort of relaxation or play is viewed shamefully. Therefore, it’s about combining traditional acts of worship such as taraweeh, Quran reading, Qiyam, charity, thikr with other forms of worship with activities that are meaningful. Now if your teen has the capability to do more, encourage it.
  2. Meaningful Activities – Because it’s summer, teens will invoke their right to relax. Therefore, you need to put on your negotiating hat and learn how to bargain. Give them a selection of preset activities that include both ritual worship and meaningful activities. This will give them a sense of choice but keep them busy. And in exchange, grant them some time to also play and relax. Here are some activities you can choose from. Note, some of these activities are great for teenage girls who are exempt from fasting but can participate in the spirit of Ramadan.
    • Volunteer 3 days out of the week at the masjid.
    • Pick a day during each week where they need to cook a dish for Iftar and Sahoor.
    • Taraweeh on weekends + 2 weekdays + 2 days of Qiyam al-Layl in the last 10 days of Ramadan
    • Memorize a certain surah and create a project that is due before Eid.
    • Decorate the house before Ramadan and for the Eid Celebrations.
    • Create Eid cards
    • Invite neighbors over for Iftar
    • Host a Qiyam for your girls or boys separately and her friends and line it up with a program.
    • Take part in local Quran contests.
    • Reading Quran each day.
    • Find out what portion the imam will be reciting each day. Capture a few important themes from it and make it a daily discussion.
    • Host one iftar for your teen’s friends and involve your kid in the planning and cooking.
    • If your kid has an allowance, suggest for them to donate an amount of their choice to a charity of their choice.
    • Complete I’tikaf in the masjid.
    • Deliver iftar to one needy family.
    • Read Islamic books or watch Islamic shows. I can recommend the ‘Umar Series. The whole series with English subtitles can be found on Youtube. A great book set is “Companions of the Prophet” by Abdul Wahid Hamid. Tariq Ramadan and Adel Salahi have great books on Sira. For little kids, there is “It’s Ramadan, Curious George,” and “Islamic Manners Activity Book.” National Geographic Kids has a great book called “1001 Inventions and Awesome Facts from Muslim Civilization.”
Making Ramadan Summers the best for your kids!

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