Home Quranet Chapter 13 What can we say to parents who live in the past and force their customs on their children?
What can we say to parents who live in the past and force their customs on their children?
Chapter 13

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ رُشْدَهُ مِن قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا بِه عَالِمِينَ * إِذْ قَالَ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوْمِهِ مَا هَذِهِ التَّمَاثِيلُ الَّتِي أَنتُمْ لَهَا عَاكِفُونَ * قَالُوا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءنَا لَهَا عَابِدِينَ * قَالَ لَقَدْ كُنتُمْ أَنتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمْ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ (سورة الانبياء, آية 54-51)

We bestowed aforetime on Abraham his rectitude of conduct, and well were We acquainted with him. Behold! he said to his father and his people, "What are these images, to which ye are (so assiduously) devoted?" They said, "We found our fathers worshipping them." He said, "Indeed ye have been in manifest error - ye and your fathers. (Surah 21, Verses 51-54)

Maryam, who is in the eighth-grade, told her teacher that she was betrothed and would be marrying in the summer so that she would not be returning to school next year. The teacher was surprised and tried unsuccessfully to persuade Maryam that it was not a good idea to leave. The teacher referred her to the principal, who invited her for a talk. Maryam told him that her mother was forcing her to marry, saying that she too had been married young, at thirteen.

The principal explained to Maryam that not everything our parents do and say is necessarily right. He told her that study is very important for our development and our children's future. "You must complete your studies first and only then marry", he said. "There is a time for everything and now is the time for study and when you are older it will be time to marry". Then he took out the Quran and read her the verse: "We bestowed aforetime on Abraham his rectitude of conduct, and well were We acquainted with him. Behold! he said to his father and his people, "What are these images, to which ye are (so assiduously) devoted?" They said, "We found our fathers worshipping them." He said, "Indeed ye have been in manifest error - ye and your fathers". He went on to say: "The previous generations were in error when they married off their daughters at a very early age. Today we know that it is not a good thing to do. I recommend that you talk to your parents and read them this Quran verse. I am ready to visit your home and talk to your parents to explain to them how important it is to study".

Explanation: the generation gap to which this important verse refers is a painful issue. The world is changing and many parents do not succeed in adapting to the new world because they were raised in a different world. Among those parents are some who force their children to adopt their accustomed way of life even though it is not suited to the new reality. They have good intentions but often the outcome is not good. Maryam's mother does not understand the importance of study in today's world. The principal did well to use that particular verse to persuade Maryam and her parents. The Quran teaches us that often it is the children and not the parents who are right and sometimes parents should accept their children's stand point even if it clashes with their own traditions.