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The problem with my daughter's Muslim school friends - or rather their parents

(331 Posts)
Jules2 Fri 17-Oct-14 17:00:41

I wonder if anyone else has experienced/is experiencing this problem. My 10-year-old daughter goes to a Haringey junior school with a fairly high number of Muslim children - the make up approx. 50% of her class of 28. Her group of friends in school are mostly Muslim girls. But unfortunately (with a couple of very occasional exceptions) these poor girls do not seem to be allowed to mix with non-Muslims outside of school hours. Over the years, invitations to come to our house to play, or come to parties have been rejected with many an implausible excuse. My DD has gone to maybe a couple of parties held by her friends in 5+ years of school. Weekends are taken up with Islamic school for the most part - or they stay at home. They are not allowed to go to the cinema, swimming or whatever with non-Muslims. I find it incredibly frustrating and annoying to see my daughter upset because she is unable to socialise with these girls outside of school. She doesn't understand why - and neither do I really. The school is fond of billing itself as a multicultural, inclusive school but the message doesn't seem to have gotten through to this section of the population. I'm afraid I have started to believe that if immigrants to this country - from any racial or religious background - do not want their children to mix with children from other ethnic/religious backgrounds (including British-born children), then maybe they have chosen the wrong country to come and live in. (My DD is half Chinese, by the way - but born here.) I'd be happy to hear from some Muslim parents with a different attitude - I hope there are some out there.

NickiFury Fri 17-Oct-14 17:03:40

We have had this, dd's best friend at school was a Muslim from Somalia. She's not allowed to come for play dates or to dd's birthday party, only allowed to go if it's a Muslim party in a Muslim home. They're 8 but all this started when they were six. Dd was very upset but is used to it now and obviously it's driven a wedge between them so they are not such good friends now, which is sad.

ThinkIveBeenHacked Fri 17-Oct-14 17:04:59

If the parents dont want or arent able to allow their dcs to socialise outside of school then frankly there is little you or the school can do about it.

Simply offer invites and should kids/their parents regularly decline then stop issuing them.

Your overall attitude is quite derogatory tbh but Im just going to focus on the bare bones of your issue - your dd not being able to have playdates with half her class.

Igotafreegoattoo Fri 17-Oct-14 17:09:22

OP I get what you are saying and it's difficult to explain to your DD why they can't socialise (when really the answer is that as a non-Muslim she isn't up to scratch).

But also telling her to socialise/play with the non-muslim kids is causing even more separation.

I'm not sure what the solution is, people can keep to themselves/their own culture as much as they like, we don't force integration!

Timeforabiscuit Fri 17-Oct-14 17:12:48

Have you extended the invitation with an elder brother as a chaperone?

My daughter is the only white British girl in her year, with many (maybe majority) of parents with English as a second language - and yes it has been very difficult finding a friendship group outside of school. I do disagree about you assuming they don't want to mix with your daughter, in their position I'd be tempted not to mix full stop! It must be massively stressful trying to organise things and not knowing the language- much easier to let things slides, nobody is under an obligation to societal niceties.

My mother had every advantage and didn't want me going to play dates or vice versa - for a variety of reasons - the main one being she didn't want to, and it wasn't "the done thing"

douchbag Fri 17-Oct-14 17:16:30

My dd has the same problem, lots didn't come to her birthday party as they where attending mosque.

claraschu Fri 17-Oct-14 17:16:50

My friend in Holland has had a LOT of this with her children's friends (big Muslim community). The children are not allowed in her house. It is very sad and prejudiced, I think.

ouryve Fri 17-Oct-14 17:17:08

You talk as if the parents owe it to your DD to allow their DC to play with her.

Would you take the same attitude if a non-muslim family did their own thing at the weekend and their offspring didn't do playdates? What would be your attitude if, say, the Smith family had activities and family time planned all weekend, which didn't include space for your DD?

I'm afraid I have started to believe that if immigrants to this country - from any racial or religious background - do not want their children to mix with children from other ethnic/religious backgrounds (including British-born children), then maybe they have chosen the wrong country to come and live in.

So what about this Smith family who tend not to mix with others from school, then? Are they in the wrong country, too?

How other families choose to spend their time is none of your business.

NickiFury Fri 17-Oct-14 17:18:24

I don't think you sound particularly derogatory, more frustrated, which is how I felt at the time. Other Parents said I should make a formal complaint as if it was vice versa it wouldn't be tolerated. Couldn't see the point though, you can't force people to be friends.

Finola1step Fri 17-Oct-14 17:19:03

Just because you value swimming and cinema trips, it does not mean that other families do.

There is a strong generalisation in your post regarding the Muslim families you know at your child's school and their immigration status.

I know many, many Muslim families who are second and third generation Asian British. They did not choose to live in the UK, they were born here. It was their parents and grandparents who made such decisions. Their children are educated in the state system and have further evening or Saturday classes studying Arabic and the Koran.

Over the years I have known families of Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Ghanian descent who send their children to additional classes related to their family language and heritage. This has nothing to do with wanting to not intergrate and everything to do with wanting to maintain your family's cultural links.

I have often said that if I was to move to another country for work whether it be France, China, Bagladesh or America, I would still be English in my heart. Even if I took citizenship elsewhere, my roots will always be English. So I would want my children to learn about their heritage, culture and language. So most likely, they would be off to English school on a Saturday.

Part of being an inclusive community is welcoming others but accepting difference. Just because you want play dates and swimming, it does not mean that it is high on the agenda of other parents.

I'm sure your dd can learn to accept that she will do different things with different friends.

NickiFury Fri 17-Oct-14 17:21:18

ouryve my dd was expressly told that she wouldn't be able to mix with her friend as dd is not a Muslim. However this child does go to other play dates as long as the other child us Muslim, not necessarily from Somalia, but definitely Muslim. That is prejudice and I don't agree it's the same as the argument you give using none Muslims.

Eastpoint Fri 17-Oct-14 17:22:43

We had the same thing when I was a child, by the time we were in the 6th form we hardly saw the Muslim girls, they spent their time in the same part of the 6th form block & spoke Urdu together. Some of us had been at school together since we were 6 so it was a shame when the year basically split. This was in the 80s by the way. I think it's the same now.

TheStarsLookDown Fri 17-Oct-14 17:25:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CheeseEqualsHappiness Fri 17-Oct-14 17:29:14

Totally agree Finola. Well said

ClapHandsIfYouBelieveInFatties Fri 17-Oct-14 17:29:32

My nephew's best friend is Muslim...they are both 10. It was very hard at first as they live in a small village and my sister kept asking for playdates and they were always refused.

Eventually the teacher intervened! Probably not advisable usually but she spoke to the parents and mentioned the boy's friendship...she also told them that my sister's family were not Muslim but were an extremely respectable and hard working family.

Like magic it worked and the boy's family invited my nephew over and the boys are often at one another's homes now.

Dear nephew even went for a big Muslim celebration last year and his Friend's mum sent a load of the food over with him for his family to sample.

It seemed, in this case, that the word of a teacher was respected enough to open the doors.

MarianneSolong Fri 17-Oct-14 17:29:38

I think there is sometimes a bit more flexibility - though sometimes not. My daughter's best friend in primary school were twin girls from a Muslim family. I got friendly with the mother in the playground and the girls started to come round regularly, though not on the days when they had classes at the mosque. I think the first time their mother came too. I assured her that the two girls would only be given vegetarian snacks - so there was no risk of eating non-halal meat. When they were around 10 the two girls started wearing the hijab, so they asked me to tell them when my partner would be back, as then they'd want to cover their head. And my daughter would go round to their place. (Can't remember if they came round during Ramadan, but if so I wouldn't have offered food or drink, obviously.)

(My daughter had more in common with the Muslim girls at her primary school, because they had parents who took education/aspiration particularly seriously. Some of the other children came from families that were less bothered about such matter.)

I think their mum - like plenty of mothers of other faiths/or no faith - just wanted to be sure, that when they came over to play, they'd be well looked after and they'd not be confronted with anything they didn't know how to cope with.

NickiFury Fri 17-Oct-14 17:37:24

That's a very fair way of looking at it Marianne, certainly made me think. By the same token though I think if I started a thread saying I was concerned about what dd might face in a Muslim home on a play date I would be roasted to a cinder.

MrsDeVere Fri 17-Oct-14 17:37:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsDeVere Fri 17-Oct-14 17:39:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

specialsubject Fri 17-Oct-14 17:40:49

I don't think the OP is being derogatory. She says that she is being told that her daughter cannot socialise with her friends because her daughter is not Muslim.

This comes across as 'you aren't good enough' and is hurtful. Even if not meant that way.

mariannes communicative approach may work - and would take out any worries that the children would be asked to do something of which their parents' religion does not approve.

or it may not.

terribly sad.

MeMyselfAnd1 Fri 17-Oct-14 17:41:20

What the family do outside the school is nine of your business, they may not even feel attracted to the activities you are inviting them to.

DS has a friend who no matter what day of the day you invite him, he always has one or another class, if it is not swimming, it is piano, dance, tennis, English, maths or science tutorials or whatever takes his mum's fancy. I'm sure I feel as sorry for this kid as his mum feels sorry for mine. From my cultural point of view she is putting his son under a stupid amount of pressure, from her cultural point of view, I'm neglecting my child's education. I am perfectly sure that neither of us is totally wrong.

Cultural respect goes both says, they may find it as difficult to understand you want to take the girls swimming as you find it to understand why they need to spend so much time in Islamic school.

fancyanotherfez Fri 17-Oct-14 17:45:17

I had the same issue when I was at a girls state school in the '80's. It had a very large Muslim community, whereas I am Asian but not Muslim. At 11, I took to pretending to be Muslim, made up a whole background to explain away why my surname wasn't Muslim, being vegetarian at school and had a really unhappy time of it because the girls had been told not to socialise with non Muslims inside school either. I was found out because a teacher said something to my mum and she had no idea what I was doing. I ended up so isolated and bullied as a result I left the school soon afterwards. As long as your child is socialising inside school, then there is nothing you can do about outside. Make sure no segregation is happening inside the school playground.

TheCowThatLaughs Fri 17-Oct-14 17:46:06

Was just thinking the same as mrsdevere. My dc doesn't visit other houses for play dates. We're not Muslim, just busy and anti social

MrsDeVere Fri 17-Oct-14 17:46:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Carriemac Fri 17-Oct-14 17:46:35

Interesting post op. Ds has his Muslim friend here for tea tonight before they go to footie.we have had a vegetarian tea, and the dog is banished to the garden. All by DSs instructions, he is 15 and a very sociable lad, and the only boy in his form to have been invited to this boys house. It's taken 5 years though!

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