Brooklyn Mother Hopes to Close Gap Between Arab Parents and Children

With reports of drug use on the rise among young people in southwest Brooklyn, many parents in the Arab community are finding it difficult to connect with their American-born children, Home Reporter News reports.

The paper spoke with one mother, the Egyptian-born Aziza Hussein, who decided to do something about this disconnect:

“A lot of young Arab men in the area of Bay Ridge get lost in the street. They join gang groups, smoke and use drugs,” Hussein, who works at the Brooklyn Perinatal Network, explained. “We never grew up like this; we don’t know what it’s like.”

Hussein wants to start an organization that would help improve the relationship between parents and children, in the hope that bridging cultural gap might help fix the problem. Hussein has reached out to Detective Ahmed Nasser, the Muslim Community Liaison to the NYPD, and plans to organize a meeting between Arabic parents and their children.

She also wants to reach out to all the young people in the local community. “Any community we live in, we are a part of,” she said.

Hussein’s American-born son Ahmed, 26, agreed with his mother:

“It’s a matter of helping the community close the gap between the youth that are being brought up in a way that they weren’t,” he explained. “It’s getting the parents to understand what it’s like to be an adolescent in America today. They are not able to communicate with their kids and the needs of their kids.”

Reverend Khader El-Yateem, a pastor at Salam Lutheran Church, explained that the disconnect can be profound:

“Families are trying to integrate into the larger community and our young people are facing lots of challenges,” he said. “[Due to] the lack of language skills of parents, they don’t understand peer pressure and don’t know how to fight or recognize signs if their kids are addicted to substances.”

He added that he tries to educate parents in his parish about signs of drug abuse and provide help. “We do not understand what these kids go through on a daily basis,” he said, noting that if Hussein can get this organization off the ground, it would be “phenomenal” and he and his church would support any way they could.

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