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Abusive Parents: Enough is Enough!

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Feb 05, 2018

Question

As-salamu `alaykum. I am a 37-year-old married woman with children. My question is about the necessity to maintain relationship with relatives. I am the middle of three daughters. For the majority of my life, my parents’ love and focus was either on the oldest or the youngest (each parent having their own “pet”). I have always held my parents in high regard as the head of the family unit—despite knowing that I would be last on the count. My parents are very wealthy, and whilst my siblings have established business and set up their home, my parents have never done the same for me. Before my migration to Australia, my parents, siblings, and I agreed to enter into a partnership to commence a business. As the first migrant, I established the business, purchased premises, and basically did all the hard work to set up the business. My father later informed me that he no longer thought the partnership is appropriate and believed that my younger sister should get the business.Approximately 18 months ago, my older sister migrated to Australia. On her arrival here, she lashed out at me saying very hurtful things and quoting my parents as having said certain things about me. I was very hurt by this and e-mailed my parents seeking clarification on the matters that my sister quoted. I received a response a few days later stating that these were minor issues which can be resolved—and that was it. After a few of months, my parents have also migrated. On their arrival here, they defended my sister and verbally attacked me each time I met them. As a result, I cut the ties and moved on with my life. Approximately two months later, they sought the mediation of a common friend. My sister, my parents, and this mutual friend came to my home unannounced to “make up.” My sister categorically denied saying anything with the result that I overreacted and she moved to hit me. My father, instead of dragging us apart, pushed my sister aside and physically attacked me in the presence of my mother, my sister, and my children. My husband stepped in, pushed me into the toilet, and locked the door to avoid my father assaulting me. Since that episode, relations have been cut off completely. My father sees nothing wrong in what he did and constantly attacks me, even when I am merely greeting him. My sister and my brother-in-law visited my in-laws to run me down and cause problems for me in my husband’s family. My parents have defended this action. My parents continue to run me down in the community and abuse me each time I meet them. I have been a loyal and dutiful daughter and I find their reaction towards me hurtful. My children and I are traumatized by the continued attacks and harassment by my parents. Islam teaches us to respect our parents. I struggle with this in view of the fact that I am being constantly abused—physically, emotionally, and verbally. My parents have also had problems with a number of people in the “old country.” In my father's case, he had problems with his own brothers. In Islam, can there be a justification for not maintaining relations with relatives? Do the requirements for justice and equity not overrule the family link requirement? How does one cope with abuse from one’s own parents? My parents have been abusing me in excess of 10 years. Each time I forgive them, only to be abused again. I am tired of this treatment, but I am troubled by the requirement to maintain relations with my parents. How many times do I have to reconcile and forgive? My children are affected each time my parents lash out at me. I need to ensure that they are protected. Your comments and thoughts would be appreciated.

Counselor

Answer


Abusive Parents: Enough is Enough!

In this counseling answer:

“Be intentional in your planning, as we have said above, so that you give your parents their rights by visiting them, by inquiring about them, and by offering them whatever help they seek. However, there is no need for your children to either be in harm or to witness you being abused by your parents. If such abuse occurs, immediately remove yourself and your children from that setting. Apologize to anyone else present for your abrupt departure and, in sha’ Allah, most observant people will understand.”


As-Salamu ‘Alaikum,

We appreciate that you took the time to make such a clear presentation about some of the challenges you have been facing. We understand how frustrated you must feel with your parents and siblings and can only say that, in sha’ Allah, we make du`aa’ to Allah Most High to grant you relief very soon!

Firstly, we want to appeal to you to get personal counseling because it is not possible on your own to attempt to overcome the highly destructive consequences of abuse that has occurred for over a decade. You owe it to yourself to be able to process all of the feelings of anger and frustration that you feel towards your parents and your siblings. In sha’ Allah, the counselor will help you to put the relationship in perspective. You also owe it to your husband and children to seek counseling because as long as you are stressed about all of this, you cannot continue to function properly, and it will inevitably affect your relationship with them.

Secondly, it seems that your parents are not likely to change their outlook towards you and your family any time soon. This does not mean they will never change, but for now, it seems clear that they are intent on maintaining a very negative stance towards you. Because they will not change, you have only one option: to persevere and to withstand whatever negativity they direct towards you. However, one way of dealing with them is to minimize entirely the interaction that you and your family have with them. It is better that you do not give them a chance to be negative, and the less interaction you have with them, the better, in sha’ Allah, it will be for everyone concerned.

Thirdly, despite your deepest frustration towards them, on a very personal level, fight the instinct to respond with anything less than kindness, compassion, and love. Recall Allah (swt) has said,

„And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” (17: 23)

Therefore, it is our sincere advice to you to remind yourself of this verse every single time you interact with them. In fact, you should also explain to your children this verse so that they are aware of the Qur’anic injunction on how children should treat their parents. Of course, your children will see that your parents are abusive towards you, and you should make every excuse for your parents. In turn, your children will come to appreciate you more for not responding with negativity!

Fourthly, make lots of du`aa’ to Allah (swt) to give you and your family the stamina and the compassion to deal mercifully with your parents and siblings despite their negative treatment of you.

Be intentional in your planning, as we have said above, so that you give your parents their rights by visiting them, by inquiring about them, and by offering them whatever help they seek. However, there is no need for your children to either be in harm or to witness you being abused by your parents. If such abuse occurs, immediately remove yourself and your children from that setting. Apologize to anyone else present for your abrupt departure and, in sha’ Allah, most observant people will understand.

Finally, as we reminded you earlier, you should seek out face-to-face counseling and, in sha’ Allah, also turn to your husband and children for support. Whatever causes your parents and siblings to behave in such an abusive manner is not your fault. You are the victim of the abuse, and you need to have a solid support system to be able to overcome the negative consequences of the abuse. Develop a strong relationship with Allah (swt) and do not underestimate the power of du`aa’. Make du`aa’ for your parents, your siblings, yourself, and your immediate family.

Salam,

***

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