In the UK and internationally we are seeing a trend that is attacking the rights of the child and preventing them from experiencing their right to be cared for, loved, educated and protected by both of their parents.
Psychology now tells us that as soon as a husband and wife become parents both will equally experience physical changes. It is no less a change for men than it is for women; it switches on areas in the brain that develop to nurture and protect, which can never be reversed.
For a parent, everything they are physically, emotionally and mentally connects to their child and becomes the centre of their existence. For the child, the changes are exactly what they need to enable positive growth and development.
What we are now seeing is parents who are letting go of their responsibility to the rights of their child and instead of honouring the truth in Islam they are choosing to coercively deny their child’s right to know the other parent and their extended family.
There are many reasons for this, the two most dominant are the breakdown of relationships, and where a parent accesses community services and allows themselves to become part of a web of lies and destruction in attempting to satisfy their aims.
We all have a responsibility to prevent the abuse of children, there is no justification in this world for harm to be directed at any human being and this must be stopped, but where we don’t honour the truth, we not only harm our children, but we also harm ourselves.
In Islam the rights of the child are wrapped up in our very existence, in our dreams as children to adulthood. In reality, once they are gifted to us and when we leave this world, they are our only consistent source of du’ā and good deeds in our graves.
It is reported that Al-Aqra’ ibn Habis saw Allah’s Messenger ﷺ kissing his grandchild and said to the Prophet, “I have 10 children, but I’ve never kissed one of them”. The Prophet ﷺ said, “He who does not show mercy towards his children, no mercy would be shown to him.”
Alienation in Ramadan
For the child being forced apart in Ramadan can create a time when their heart and mind struggles even more. When a parent experiences what can be a brutal disconnection in their ability to give their child everything Allah charged them to give, the loss—whether you are a mother or a father—is devastating.
A child’s validation of who they are begins in their relationship with their mother and father. Their identities are born from the knowledge and understanding that they are valued within their relationship with both parents.
At a very young age they are nurtured by the rules in the relationships that surround them. They are sensitive, intuitive, and very early on they will identify the nuances of joy, love, anger, and hate, and in all of these they will seek to understand.
They will look for where they fit within these emotions, and because it is programmed within us to care at a very young age children will mistakenly take responsibility.
What has been broken can be mended
Amy J. L. Baker Ph.D, a recognised specialist in parental alienation, tells us that from well-documented research and evidence there are 17 primal, parent alienation strategies. This means that there are systems in place from one parent to another, through the child, that are designed to break down the connection and create a belief that an alienated parent doesn’t care or want to be there.
When children are reunited with parents, in part they need to be deprogrammed from what has been shown to them as a truth and the easiest way to start doing that is to debunk the narrative of the alienating parent.
It doesn’t matter how long the alienated parent, child and extended family are apart; what helps is to show them an alternative truth and evidence. This gives them the opportunity to strip away the pain and loss they experienced from not having the alienated parent in their lives.
It is important to understand that this is not about attacking or blaming the alienating parent or family. It is about showing the child that they have remained very much included in the hearts and minds of the alienated parent and their extended family.
One of the best ways to do this is to create memories by proxy that they can become involved in when reconnected. Here are some suggestions.
- At least once a month create a positive, three-minute video. It doesn’t have to be perfect. On each video you say the day, time and why today was a good day to share. Store the videos in a safe place, such as in cloud space or storage drives.
- On special occasions buy an age-appropriate gift. Don’t worry that they may grow out of it, you’re creating history to share when the time is right.
- Whatever is in you to give to them; a special hadith, something connected to your history, theirs, or their extended family.
Alhamdullillāh, many families eventually work through their differences and find a way of co-parenting, respecting their child’s rights.
Creating memories for children by proxy can help to strip away the harm that is done to them where parental alienation is being placed upon their shoulders. It can help to create a space of catch-up, communication and a new beginning in the building of a relationship.
This situation of separation works when each parent understands that their child was created through them both and as a consequence of this, their child has a right to equal access to both parents. They have a right to love without worry or concern that this love will cause either parent pain.
The simple fact is a parent doesn’t own a child, they are not a commodity or something that can be traded or bartered with, under any circumstances. They are from Allah and at some point, in the parent’s life cycle, each parent will be held accountable for their children’s rights.
Allah’s Messenger ﷺ asked thrice, “Where is the small (child)?” Then he said, “Call Al-Hasan bin `Ali (his grandson).” So Al-Hasan bin `Ali got up and started walking with a necklace (of beads) around his neck. The Prophet stretched his hand out like this, and Al-Hasan did the same. The Prophet embraced him and said, “0 Allah! l love him, so please love him and love those who love him.”Bukhari
Remember alienated parents and children this Ramadan
Sally-Anne is the Director of Split the Difference CIC, an organisation created to raise awareness on the inequality for men and boys within United Nation member states and encourage consultation, guidance and policy that supports their needs equally to women and girls.