Category Archives: Parenting

Has the world gone mad?

Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful

When I was a little girl I had a Barbie doll.  I think she was the only genuine Barbie I ever had and oh how I loved her!  I had to beg and beg my parents to make the purchase.  I still remember the day they finally caved in, I must have been the happiest girl in the world. I spent countless hours with my new prized possession, trying her out in her various pink outfits, her high heels, and her diamond earrings.  I longed for her beautiful blue eyes and long blonde hair, but that is not all I longed for.

Barbie had become everything I wanted to be.  She was a role model that instilled in me a desire to possess nothing more than empty beauty.  No dreams, no aspirations, no goals – all I wanted to achieve was to be beautiful like Barbie.  It mattered little to me whether she was good or bad.  Inside beauty meant nothing – outside beauty was everything.  And of course I could never live up to that goal, after all I did not have the blonde hair and blue eyes that not only my Barbie possessed, but that almost every doll in my possession had. It is not something that I thought day and night about at a conscious level, but I do remember feeling sadness as a little girl with the knowledge that I could never be what I aspired to be.

I now have two little girls of my own, the older one is almost 4, and our baby is one.  They are blessed with everything that little girl wanted to be – they are blonde haired, blue eyed, and beautiful.  It has been many years since that little girl grew up, and I have since developed many different goals, but I am sadly conscious of a small part of me that is happy for them that they are naturally what I so desired to be.

As a result of the effect that dolls had on me as a child, I have become weary of the role and influence dolls have on little girls.  I am very careful with the dolls I purchase for them.  I do not want them growing up thinking that this is the only form of beauty there is.  Not only are other different shapes and colours equally (and sometimes even more) beautiful, but I also want my girls knowing that superficial beauty means little, and that what is important is that they are beautiful on the inside.

So I’m sure you can imagine how I feel about Bratz dolls.  I don’t think hate is a strong enough word to describe how I feel about them, I totally loathe them!!  Perhaps I am reading a little too much into this, perhaps their promiscuous clothing are not as obvious to little girls.  But then I remember when I was a little girl, how people underestimated me, how people dismissed me, how they didn’t realise I understood what they were saying, and how I sensed things beyond my comprehension despite not really understanding them fully.  Children are very smart, much smarter than most give them credit for.  They are like little sponges, absorbing everything around them.  Although they will not immediately look at a Bratz doll and interpret it like an adult, they may think that dressing like that is more fun, they may even notice that those who dress like that will attract more attention, and most likely they will want to dress like them…they will want to be like them in every way, just like I wanted to be everything that Barbie was.

Sadly, however, it doesn’t end there.  There is now a Bratz doll with the word “enter” on her belt.  Apparently a representative explained it as being like a seat belt, an explanation you might swallow if you were dealing in a cute innocent doll with pink frills.  A picture of the doll (as well as the story) can be viewed here, and I think most would agree that you would have to be a little more than naive to buy that explanation.

So where will this end?  Perhaps in the future we will have little girls playing with dolls dressed in lingerie ?  Where do we draw the line? And when will doll manufacturers take responsibility for something beyond the number of dolls they selll??  Little girls need to play innocently with dolls without the pressure to be something they are not, and certainly without sexually suggestive messages.  Childhood should be a time of innocence, let them play innocently without these adult concepts that will change their worlds forever.  It seems that with each passing day its getting more and more difficult for children to retain this innocence, but I for one will be doing everything in my power to let my children just enjoy being children for as long as I possibly can.

A source of strength

Bismillahi ir-rahman ir-rahim – In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful

Something happened the other day.  Something that changed my whole frame of mind.  It wasn’t anything exceptional, in fact some may think it rather insignificant.  Nonetheless, it was something that had a profound affect on me.  Maybe it is because he is my firstborn, or maybe it is because of my own feelings of inadequacy,  either way this was a timely reminder and a blessing from Allah swt.

So what is it, you may be wondering that had such a profound affect on me?  My son got selected to represent his class for the prep islamic week quiz!  Ok I know, it sounds like I’m giving this one event more weight than its worth.  Afterall, it is just a prep class activity.  However, for me it meant so much more than that.  His teacher had made it clear that the selection was based on his knowledge, and for me this meant so much.  Not that it means he is the best in his class, or that I have succeeded as a parent.  I know it is a long road and we have a lot of work ahead of us.  However, what it did indicate is that we are, insha’allah, on the right track, and that means the world to me.

Motherhood in many ways is the most difficult job in the world.  Not only are there many physical demands, the 24 hour availability, the ability to jump out of bed at a cry whilst in the midst of your deepest sleep – thats the easy part.  The hard part is the mental demands.  Having your patience constantly tested to the point that by the end of some days you want nothing more than to roll up and cry, but more often than not opt for a nice chocolate fix instead.  Suddenly being a target of criticism from well-meaning and malicious people alike, all giving contradictory advice, but all agreeing on the one thing – you’re doing it all wrong.  Too loving, not loving enough, you hold him too much, you don’t hold him enough, you feed him too much, you don’t feed him enough, you teach him too much, you don’t teach him enough, you’re too soft, too harsh, he’s not toilet trained, he’s not disciplined, he’s skinny, he’s not confident, he’s too rough, he’s rude, he’s shy……AAARRRGHHHH!!

So that is why this seemingly small and insignificant event meant so much to me.  Not because he was selected for a small prep activity, but because it is a sign of more than that, and has provided me with a source of strength.  So when my baby woke up crying 4 times while writing the above, I could take comfort in the fact that Insha’allah she will grow to be like her older brother.  And when my three year old daughter started wetting herself again after being toilet trained for a month, I was able to tap into my reserves of patience by thinking that before I know it she too will be making her way in the world, and making me proud in her own ways.

Somewhere between my self-doubts, disorganisation, lack of time, lack of planning, and my failure to do so many things that I would love to do for my son, he is still thriving.  He’s not a picture of perfection, but he is growing up to be a sensitive, loving, caring and intelligent boy, and I couldn’t be more proud. He’ll probably never know the strength that he gives to me, but I thank Allah for the reminder and strength that I have found through him and hope that one day I can repay the favour.