Hijab has suffered some really negative publicity, not only recently with the Iranian protests around the Mahsa Amini saga, but for many years with several countries disallowing the hijab as a legitimate choice in professional and educational institutions and settings. This has not been helped by derogatory comments from politicians such as those branding niqab ‘letterbox’ like and influencers removing their hijab and promoting this decision.
Furthermore, even if we feel hijab is the right choice for women and must be honoured, we may be fearful for our young girls embarking on this path which can render them an overt and thereby vulnerable symbol of Islam, attracting ridicule, animosity and racism.
We may worry they become targeted with unpleasant looks, hurtful comments or physical violence. And like it or not, our girls will sense this anxiety in us even if we don’t express it.
So how can we make wearing the hijab an easier journey for our girls? How can we help them to feel proud and firm as beacons of strength and confidence, unwavering or indeed oblivious to, the behaviour of others.
Here are a few tips that helped from my experience with my own daughter that I am hoping will help others embarking on this path.
Acknowledge any feelings of worry in yourself or your daughter
Have frank discussions with a trusted friend around your own concerns This can help you vent and express these away from your daughter so you are able to encounter her worries with greater objectivity. Hear her worries and listen without judgement. Many girls embarking on hijab may fear their friends won’t recognise them or will no longer like them. Explore friendship and the concept of a good friend. Being the active listener for your child’s worries will not only encourage them to untangle their fears and make sense of their anxieties but inevitably will also motivate them to come to you if and when they face new challenges.
Talk about inspiring and amazing hijab wearing female role models
This could be from history and at present. This will inspire your daughter and demonstrate to her that hijab needn’t be limiting. These could include holy women such as Lady Fatima, Lady Mariam as well as sports personalities, politicians, spiritual leaders, scientists and more!
Explore your own relationship with hijab
Our daughters will often do as we do more than do as we say. If I really believe in my hijab, am committed to it and am proud of it, this will inevitably have some impact on my daughter. And if I struggle with it, maybe I can express that to my daughter too, that sometimes we believe in something and it’s hard to practise but Allah is all seeing and will aid us in our struggle. So ask Him for help.
Create a circle of hijab wearing friends and/or relatives around your daughter
This will not only inspire your daughter, give her strength in numbers but also help her feel a sense of belonging. If you are not lucky enough to have this, maybe a remote group or community. If this is difficult too, then help her create and nurture a circle of friends who are accepting and supportive of her hijab.
Children want to belong. Indeed, all human beings do. The psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is one of the best known theories on human motivation. Maslow’s theory states that our actions are motivated by certain physiological and psychological needs that progress from basic to complex. Maslow believes that ‘lower’ needs must be mostly satisfied before one can look to and focus on higher needs. Belonging needs refer to our desire to feel accepted by others and to feel a sense of belonging to a group. While we can’t and probably do not want our daughter to have solely hijab wearing friends, having a group who do, where she can see herself and her values demonstrated can make her feel safer and more comfortable, thus providing her the confidence to move forward with her hijab.
Source: Very well mind
Discuss the upcoming hijab with school and clubs your daughter attends
As your daughter approaches this important milestone, many schools are amenable to adjustments in uniform and sports kits to accommodate hijab. Request extra support from teachers and school staff around this time. Your daughter may want to give a little talk in her class or school around hijab, why Muslims wear it and why it’s important.
Make hijab wearing fun!
Experiment with different hijab styles, materials and colours. Go for a special shopping trip and spend some quality mother-daughter time to prepare. This will build a positive association with hijab.
Consider the timing of hijab
Many girls find wearing hijab during the school holidays prepares them around those they do not know in supermarkets and the high street in order to build confidence before they face their friends and peers.
It is more about later than now
The more you are able to invest in your relationship with your daughter, to make her feel validated and understood, the greater the chance she will wear her hijab consistently, proudly and stand firm in the face of challenges.
Answer her questions, and if you can’t, seek answers together. Negativity and threats will undermine this effort, while building connection will strengthen her character. Teach and remind, support and encourage and inshalah Allah will take care of the rest.