So how do we protect our kids from that kind of ubiquitous peer pressure? I want my daughter and son to follow Islamic dictates and refrain from physical intimacy before marriage. I don't believe in double standards.
My parents told me, as well as my brother, that dating was against my religion. Perhaps it isn't that clear-cut, as what exactly constitutes dating? Some parents might consider going out to dinner in a group to be dating, and some wouldn't. Certainly, under Islamic guidelines, a man and woman should not go behind closed doors alone.
And of course, there's the ban on physical contact. Again, Muslims might disagree on what exactly is prohibited. Everyone agrees that, in Islam, intercourse is absolutely forbidden outside of marriage. Certainly, not dating at all makes it considerably easier to resist the slippery slope of what's allowable and what isn't.
I want my kids to be aware of what happens in society, where the dangers lie, what we expect of them, what Islam expects of them, and the fact that other families (both Muslim and not) might have different rules. I understand that this might mean resisting peer pressure, but when has that been a bad thing? It builds character and strength. It will teach them to adhere to their principles while not judging others. As long as the channels of communication are open and my kids and I can have honest dialogue, then I think I'll be doing my job.
All a parent can do is try to make the right choices. I hope I can give my kids a good foundation for Islamic behavior. But if they do go (in my view) astray, despite my efforts, I hope I'll have the strength to resist judging them or tying my ego and sense of success and failure to their actions.
Sumbul Ali-Karamali, a corporate lawyer with a graduate degree in Islamic Law, is the author of The Muslim Next Door: the Qur'an, the Media, and that Veil Thing, an academically reliable, anecdote-filled introduction to Islam and Muslims. This article was previously published at Wajahat Ali's blog Goatmilk.