In this counseling answer:
“You need not take any sudden or harsh steps to correct him, but you must at least remind him each time he tells you he hates you that this is not a nice thing to say. He needs to know that his mother and father care for him and that no matter how much he might be dealing with as part of his maturing process, there is absolutely no room for disrespect and ill-treatment of his parents.”
Thank you for writing to us. What a challenge indeed to raise children in America! Here are some thoughts for your consideration:
First, based on what you have written, we can assure you that your son telling you he hates you (his mother) and his father is not acceptable at all, no matter how typical it might be of teenage behavior. Islam states clearly that under all circumstances children must respect their parents.
There is no such thing as accepting rude and disrespectful behavior from children. You are actually doing your son a disservice if you accept his current behavior without consequence.
You need not take any sudden or harsh steps to correct him, but you must at least remind him each time he tells you he hates you that this is not a nice thing to say. He needs to know that his mother and father care for him and that no matter how much he might be dealing with as part of his maturing process, there is absolutely no room for disrespect and ill treatment of his parents.
Second, what is most startling about your message is that you have actually answered most of your own questions. You know well that your family immigrated to America recently and that both you and your son are going through the process of adjusting to a new way of life.
In addition, for reasons you know best, you and your husband work and therefore have little time to spend with your son as he faces the adaptation challenges as well as his growing pains.
You also note that there are no other Muslim families in the area where you live. These three factors alone are having very detrimental effects on your family. Must you work so much? Can you not reduce your working hours so that, in sha’ Allah, you can spend more time with your son? He is crying out for help each time he tells you he hates you.
He might not be saying that he hates you; he might really be saying that he hates the circumstances in which he finds himself—all alone and without friends or relatives who understand him and with whom he can relate.
He needs to have healthy relationships with young Muslim boys his own age. You and your husband must make it a priority to seek out the local masjid and to locate Muslim families with teenage sons. If you can, enroll your son in some sports or other constructive activities offered by the city or county in which you live.
You have a choice. Either you keep focusing on a better life in material terms and lose your son in the process or you live a modest life for now and focus all of your energies on rebuilding a relationship with your son.
Third, remember that while your intentions were to give your son a better life, you actually find yourself now in a situation whereby you might end up losing your son altogether. Talk to your husband and figure out your financial situation to see if you can reduce your working hours or stop working altogether so that you can devote more time to your son.
No amount of money will help you to rebuild your relationship with your son if he makes an emotional and mental break from you and your husband. Your son is crying out for help and we are urging you to help him immediately. Talk to your son as well and see what he feels the problems are. Just listen. Do not try to solve all of the problems he mentions, just listen. Let him feel as though you are his friend and that you are there to listen and to validate some of what he is feeling. These are difficult times for your son and your family and, in sha’ Allah, working together you will make it!
Finally, if, after a lot of trying, your son is not improving in his behavior towards you and your husband, you might consider counseling for him. A counselor might be able to help your son to articulate some of the anger and frustration he is feeling.
Make lots of du`aa’ to Allah to guide your son and to restore peace and tranquility in your home.
We know you are feeling a lot of pain because of the current situation, but we assure you that if you focus on spending more time with your son and on helping him to adjust to life in America, he will be more grateful to you than if you work all the time to try to help him have what you perceive to be a better life.
Your son needs your attention and your husband’s attention, please figure out how to give it to him.
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