Written by: Ada Tseng, Assistant Editor, Utility Journalism
Published by: The Los Angeles Times
Muslim children typically aren’t expected to fast during Ramadan until they reach puberty. But often kids will want to start earlier because they see everyone else abstaining from food and water from sunrise to sunset — followed by their community gathering to break their fast together — and they want to participate.
How to Talk About Fasting With Your Kids
Fatema Jivanjee-Shakir, LMSW, a licensed clinical social worker who works at The Renfrew Center, recommends adults refrain from praising kids for not eating because it can lead to an unhealthy preoccupation with food.
Jivanjee-Shakir, who works with patients with eating disorders, also advises monitoring how young people — especially those going through puberty — are talking about their bodies and making sure that the practice of fasting is contained within the holy month.
“Make sure kids understand that there are valid exemptions from fasting, including illness. Eating disorders are illnesses,” Jivanjee-Shakir said.
“Islamic doctrine really encourages the protection of the body,” she said. “So if you’re protecting your body by not fasting because it harms your mental or physical health, then you are in fact honoring Islam and you are honoring the religion. It doesn’t make you a bad Muslim if you’re not able to fast.”
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