Friday, March 26, 2010

Fathers, Who Needs 'em?

Our national and international envoy, Mr.Chowdhury, has been meeting with people across America and the UK about The number one question he's been asked is, "Why MuslimFathers, why not just MuslimParents?" I've tried to address this question in our semi-official call to arms, but let's tackle it in more depth right here. Why are Fathers necessary? What are the problems with having a campaign/website/blog/social group dedicated to Muslim Parents without explicitly focusing on Fathers?

My 2 cents: Father figures have a place in the human psyche that cannot be replaced by any other entity. The same, of course, goes for maternal figures. As the cliche goes, Fathers are role models for children, especially boys. While growing up and attempting to navigate through the massive overload of information and social pressures, a boy with a positive Father Figure will choose to latch onto Him and follow His lead. Without that positive Father Figure, boys are much more vulnerable to negative social influences. The National Child Development Study, conducted in the UK, has been tracking the development of 17000 children, all born in 1958. This quick overview lists a staggering set of positive outcomes for positive fatherly involvement. There are significant correlations for criminal activity, educational achievement, not being homeless, and mental health.

Another study, conducted by Swedish researchers and featured in a prominent pediatric journal, concludes that fatherly involvement has a key role to play in reducing behaviour problems in boys and psychological problems in young women. An excerpt:

"... children who had positively involved father figures were less likely to smoke and get into trouble with the police, achieved better levels of education and developed good friendships with children of both sexes."

"Long-term benefits included women who had better relationships with partners and a greater sense of mental and physical well-being at the age of 33 if they had a good relationship with their father at 16."

The problem with a website or campaign dedicated to Muslim Parents in general is that it allows the very specific problem of absentee fathers to be ignored. Go to any website, Muslim or otherwise, dedicated to the topic of parenting or children, and I can guarantee you that the majority of participants will be women. As the cited studies and our own reason and instincts indicate, you can't conceive a child without a father and you can't complete a child without a positive father figure.

Let us know your thoughts.


  1. The facebook page has been discussing this article ever since it got posted, check it out:

  2. Asalaam alaikum,
    This issue needs a lot of deep discussion from many angles. One subtopic is that of the minority male and how male children tend to get lost in growing up if they are from a minority group and can't find appropriate role models to guide them into mainstream adulthood. A well studied phenomonem is the failure of African American males. How many of them end up in prison and how many females end up in college. We are seeing that now with Somali immigrant populations in the States.

    Another issue in our community is the tendency to protect and take care of Muslim girls, while boys are left to fend for themselves. Girls predominate in Islamic schools. From my years of experience in our community, I see fathers expecting sons to tough it out and I see them being soft and caring with their daughters.

    Another issue is the lack of time and access men have for their children. In divorce of course, the mom takes the kids. But in many two parent homes, all the father's time is spent in earning a living. For many families, it is a question of survival. For professional families, it is the American way of life.

    Another issue is the lack of parenting skills. We need to parent differently from past generations. Most fathers don't have access to information on this topic or time to study it. Their fathers didn't parent much.

    Another issue is the dominance of women today. Women are encouraged culturally to take charge and one of the easiest places to do so is in the home. Although many women talk as though they want the father to parent, they actually want him to do it HER WAY.

    Though the basics of parenting are the same, the implimentation is unique to each parent, and should be. I totally agree that the father's role needs specific highlighting and discussion. And women need to be part of that because they are essential in supporting a man in his role.

    Keep it up MuslimFathers!

  3. Jazakullah al khayr. We love grandma at Thank you so much for your thoughts. Please continue to provide your wisdom.

  4. Muslim Grandma has definitely hit on some key points and may Allah reward her for her contribution.
    - there are definitely culture-specific issues in the Fatherhood spectrum ... I've been wanting to address them for some time but am still looking for willing and able contributors
    -work/life balance is a HUGE issue and in no way easy to address, but Allah has promised us our provision and keeping that in mind we can definitely navigate to a more balanced life. Needs an article or two.
    -Father parenting skills and cultural attitudes to boys ... again, a massive problem caused by ignorant and archaic attitudes. Some issues are culture-specific. Articles, need more articles!!!
    - and finally, the dominance of women. MASSIVE issue and never, ever talked about. The pendulum has definitely swung too far in some areas, yet still remains lagging in others. While there is still abuse of women in many marriages, many other men have been emasculated in their own homes. Not good. Discussion desperately needed. Without that role of Qawwam, Caretaker, I believe that men feel incomplete and impotent, and then become susceptible to a whole range of nasty behaviors. Allah knows best.

  5. Assalamu alaikum, I completely agree with Grandma. Mashallah you have mentioned some very important issues. Through out the Muslim community there is a norm that parenting is a mother's duty. If anything goes wrong with children, it's the mother's fault. We all as fathers and mothers need to work together to be better parents. Children do what we do not what we say. I just found this wonderful blog. I always felt that Muslim fathers are not doing that much but alhamdulillah this blog has proved me wrong. Keep it up fathers! May Allah swt reward you with the best. Remember brothers, you are the shepherd of your household and are responsible for them. Thanks, wassalam :-)