Raising children is never easy. It involves long days, sleepless nights, thankless tasks and the constant, unanswerable question of “am I being a good parent?” The already difficult task of child-rearing becomes even more complicated when your cultural or religious practices differ from those around you.

While America has always been a melting pot with citizens from diverse backgrounds, balancing both an inherited cultural identity and an American identity is not always easy. Those around you will not always understand your traditions or be familiar with your beliefs. This disconnect between you and your neighbors, however innocent it may be, can make it tempting to surrender one part of your identity. You may decide that your cultural heritage is not worth the trouble it takes to explain your traditions to well-meaning, but confused, coworkers. You might also decide that your American identity is not valuable enough to deal with the hassle of finding traditional foods in the local supermarket and begin to isolate yourself in a small community that shares your cultural background. Neither of these options are fulfilling in the long-run especially if you have children. Isolating yourself and your children can negatively impact both your child’s future job and educational opportunities, but throwing away your heritage keeps your children from learning about their background and cultural inheritance.

Teaching children about both sides of their identity is a delicate balancing act and has become even more difficult for Muslims in recent years. Islam has suddenly found itself under the microscope and every American has an opinion or a question about the religion. For as much as American Muslims have found themselves shoved reluctantly into the spotlight, few of their neighbors truly understand Islam. This leads to confusion, frustration, misunderstandings and, sometimes, bigotry. Add a child to that volatile mixture, and the situation becomes more tense. So, what is a Muslim parent to do? Sadly, there is no perfect formula for child-rearing. If there were, it would have been discovered and shared long ago. That said, plenty of advice exists on how to raise children in a variety of situations. Here are seven tips for raising Muslim youth in America.

Model Good Behavior at Home

You are your child’s first teacher. “Do as I say, not as I do,” can be an attractive idea, but is not the best way to raise a child who is already struggling to balance two parts of their identity. If you want your child to grow up to be a good Muslim and a good American citizen, you need to show them how to be both. Take the time to pray as a family and read the Quran together. If you choose to read the text in Arabic, help your child learn the language if they are not already familiar with it. If they are reluctant to learn the language, remind them of the importance of the Arabic language. Arabic is the language the Quran was originally revealed in, and translations of the Quran are in and of themselves an interpretation of the text. For a child or teen who is unwilling to learn another language, remind them that the ability to speak Arabic is a highly valued skill in the modern world. In fact, three of the most desirable traits in employees are the ability to read and speak English, Mandarin Chinese or Arabic.

When it comes to modeling good behavior, what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. Avoid mass media that encourages values that are not in line with the values of Islam. You may be able to watch “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” without feeling tempted toward their un-Islamic lifestyle, but your child may not be able to separate what they see on TV from real life. They may think that what they see in mass media is a desirable way to live. Until you feel confident your child can face those temptations without succumbing to them, you will need to avoid those temptations as well.

Be Prepared For Tough Conversations

Part of being a good role model and a good parent is making sure that your child understands why they must do or cannot do certain things. At some point, your child will ask why he is not allowed to watch the same TV shows as his friend or why she has to be awake for the dawn prayer when her friends can all sleep in on the weekend. If you want your child to embrace and understand both the Islamic side and the American side of their identity, you will have to be prepared to have tough and unpleasant conversations. Your teenage son may not want to fast during Ramadan this year or your daughter may want to know why she is being teased for wearing the hijab. Every parent has to have difficult conversations with their children, but there is an extra level of dread that comes with having to defend or explain deeply important spiritual beliefs. Be prepared to listen to your child’s concerns or confusion and to explain you position to the best of you ability. You might not see eye-to-eye on everything as your child ages, but that is normal. Be there for your child and help support them as they discover what being an American Muslim means to them.