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Restricting older children’s TV viewing

Published: 24/08/2011 10:23:00 AM GMT
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I am strict regarding what my pre-teen children see on television and online. I do not give them access to television at all. When I believe that a program or a video will be beneficial to them, then I let them watch it. Otherwise, it is off-limits. The same goes for the Internet. Some of my friends have advised me that my approach is wrong. They say that, instead of forbidding them from using these media, I should teach my children how to avoid what is unlawful and instill in them the values and mores that will make them exercise restraint on their own. I think that they will succumb to temptation and view unlawful things if I do that. What is really the best way?

Answered by

Sheikh `Abd al-`Azîz b. `Alî al-Suwayd

One of the most effective approaches to raising children, especially those who are a bit older, is to instill in them proper values – teach them to distinguish right from wrong – and then step back and give them some leeway to monitor themselves. This means that they first need to learn what is right and wrong to the point where they begin to internalize it, and then they need to be given opportunities to put into practice what they have learned so that they gain experience.

As far as boycotting certain media outright and engaging in constant and perpetual monitoring of their movements, though it may provide some real and substantial benefits in the short run, it is doomed to fail in the long run.

Moreover, sooner or later, the children will find a way to get access to what is forbidden to them. Older children and adolescents are resourceful, and no matter how strictly and carefully they are monitored, they will find a way to get access to watch what is prohibited to them. Everything that is forbidden becomes enticing to young people simply because it is forbidden.

Therefore, it is best for you to experiment with them. Teach them what is right and then giving them some leeway to put what you teach them into practice. Let them watch some general programs in your company and let them identify what is right or wrong about those programs. Let them identify what is lawful behavior and what is unlawful in Islam. You can still intervene when you have to – especially when they fail to distinguish what is good from what is reprehensible.

If you find that this approach helps them develop their own consciousness of these matters, then this is for the best.

If, in the long run, they show an unwillingness or inability to conduct themselves properly, then you must be straightforward with them. Tell them that you gave them a chance to monitor themselves, and gave them time to prove themselves, but they have failed. Tell them that you will give them a chance again in the future when you feel that they are more ready. Keep trying until you instill in them the ability to make good choices on their own.

Once you succeed at this, you will have provided them with an upbringing that will prove better and more beneficial for them in the long-run.

May Allah bless you with success.

Source: Islam Today

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