While parents are in charge of family affairs, Islam doesn’t teach that youth should have no input into what’s happening with the family. Here are some tips for teens when their parents’ marriage seems to be going downhill:
Be attentive. Almost no family breaks apart overnight. There are clear warning signs that something is wrong. Being attentive doesn’t mean reacting; it means being aware and making mental (and if needed, written) notes of the nature of family relations. Be as objective as possible. Don’t take sides; observe and try to understand each points of view.
Be there. The moment you notice something is wrong in the family, adjust your schedule to spend as much free time at home as you can. Running away from problems doesn’t make them go away. As a teenager, you may be able to spend time with friends, but what about your younger siblings? Who’ll comfort them when mom and dad fight? Who’ll help the younger ones feel secure if you are not there? Being at home also gives your parents a chance to talk to you if they wish to. Being there is critical in helping your parents realize that whatever decisions they make about their marriage will affect you. Your presence puts a human face on the terrible consequences of divorce.
Be proactive. When you know something’s wrong between your mom and dad, talk to each separately. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help. Sometimes, you could get them involved in helping with a school project (without hinting at any problems or fights). As you work alongside them, tell them you’re feeling sad about how they’re treating one another. Suggest that perhaps they could seek professional counselling or talk to the local imam about their problems. Most importantly, pose the question, ‘How can I help?’. Then listen to what they have to say and see if you can help.

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