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Brother Interested Only in His Girlfriend

Questioner

Z

Reply Date

May 06, 2017

Question

I have a problem with my 14-year-old brother who has a girlfriend. They haven't done more than hugging and holding hands, thank God. My father tries and tries, then gives up and loses his temper and yells and hits him. We've all cried in front of him. He won't look us in the eye and tries to play it dumb when we talk to him and he won't speak or reply naturally. We've also found out that he had a Muslim girlfriend in previous years, but we never knew. This girl is non-Muslim. He used to go to a public school where she was, but we removed him from there and put him in an Islamic school, which he hates because he says it's not normal or real. When he went to the non-Muslim school, he enjoyed the environment and even Americanized his name. He doesn't keep in touch with any of his previous Muslim friends, and that makes me concerned. He used to be very good and funny. We know there is goodness in him because we all love him and he is our only brother. Ever since this has happened he has become a very numb person. Everything is very unemotional with him. All his responses are dead. He hardly ever becomes excited over anything, hardly smiles, and looks away when we speak with him. I really don't know what to do. We try to take him fun places and be with others outside the family, but he shows very little change. It's like he's depressed somehow, but more in a numb sense. He hardly ever starts conversations on his own or cracks jokes or anything that he used to do. He doesn't look sad but bored. I don't know what to get him interested in and, being a girl, I don't know how guys think is some ways. It's getting difficult. As you can recall the previous situation, it is very depressing. Other people are taking notice, too.

Counselor

Answer


Girlfriend

As-salam `alaykum, sister.

Let me start off by saying that I am very impressed that you care about your brother so deeply, and in all probability he also cares about you and his family as well.

He may not show it, but it is there since he still listens to his family—changing schools, not leaving home—but completely ignores others—girlfriends, etc.

However, you state that you have a problem with your brother. In fact, your brother has a problem with himself and you are making his problem your own. He needs to take responsibility for it. The best way is not to take over his life.

You do not tell me how old you are or about family relationships or about your mother. I am assuming that the only issue in your family is the issue of your brother, and the only time the family talks to each other is when your brother is being discussed.

My father tries and tries, then gives up and loses his temper and yells and hits him. We’ve all cried in front of him. He won’t look us in the eye and tries to play it dumb when we talk to him and he won’t speak or reply naturally. We’ve also found out that he had a Muslim girlfriend in previous years, but we never knew. This girl is non-Muslim. He used to go to a public school where she was, but we removed him from there and put him in an Islamic school, which he hates because he says it’s not normal or real.

Rebellion in early teens takes different routes, and in our society, boys and girls usually look for solutions by going out with other boys and girls. It does not help, but it is a diversion.

He appears to be having a real identity crisis and your father’s beating is not helping much, since it is the most ineffective and destructive way to help a boy of 14. It does not help your brother; it helps only your father, who deals with his anger and frustration by beating your brother and then probably ends up feeling guilty himself, and the cycle goes on.

Also hitting children, at least in Canada, is a criminal offense. He is only 14 years old and he can still be influenced by affection, patience, and perseverance.

When he went to the non-Muslim school, he enjoyed the environment and even Americanized his name. He doesn’t keep in touch with any of his previous Muslim friends, and that makes me concerned.

He has an identity issue. Religion cannot be forced on him at this point; it will not help. But religion can be discussed with him as a self-help exercise by just letting him know that prayers can and do help.

He used to be very good and funny. We know there is goodness in him because we all love him and he is our only brother.

He is still the same good person, except at this point he is not conforming to the values of his family and his religion, and that is what is causing all of you so much emotional pain.

Ever since this has happened he has became a very numb person. Everything is very unemotional with him. All his responses are dead. He hardly ever becomes excited over anything, hardly smiles and looks away when we speak with him.

He is confused both emotionally and intellectually.

I really don’t know what to do. We try to take him fun places and be with others outside the family, but he shows very little change. It’s like he’s depressed somehow, but more in a numb sense. He hardly ever starts conversations on his own or cracks jokes or anything that he used to do. He doesn’t look sad, but bored. I don’t know what to get him interested in and, being a girl, I don’t know how guys think is some ways. It’s getting difficult. As you can recall the previous situation, it is very depressing. Other people are taking notice, too.

As a professional counselor who has seen these types of cases, I suggest the following:

*Do not make him the center of the universe by focusing on him. You have to change the topic of the conversation. The less focus on him and his girlfriend, the better for him to sort out his own confusion.

*Remember, he thinks he is grown up. Do treat him as such and hold him responsible for his actions.
*Negotiate with him. If he wants to date, then he should still be part of the family, pay attention to school, and be home on time, etc.
*Instead of feeling sad or angry and crying, show him that you trust him and that he will, with the help of Allah, understand that what he is doing is not productive.
*Dating at this young age makes life very complex and unhappy.  He needs someone to listen to his experiences with the Muslim girl and all others, without judgment and anger.
*Support him emotionally by engaging him in conversations other than “do not date.”
*Talk to him about his girlfriend. He is bound to open up to tell you what exactly is bothering him.
*But he will not open up if he only hears criticism, lectures, and accusations. There is no need to demonize the girl because she is not Muslim. You have no idea what he was doing with the Muslim girl.

If this continues he will completely block all of you. You do not want that to happen.

*Compliment him if he involves in activities with you; be positive.

*Count all the blessings of Allah. Your brother has his health, he still seems interested in school—though not Islamic subjects—, he still to some extent is listening to the family, he still comes home and is still loved by all of you.

*Get information on drug abuse and see if he has any symptoms—stunned feelings, flat expressions, lack of appetite, puffed eyes, dull response, etc.

Remember, Allah advises us that in difficulty we should remember Him. Pray, be patient, and show compassion.

This is a difficult situation, but Allah says that after every difficulty there comes ease. You have to believe in it.

Finally, your father must never hit your brother again; it is a destructive and useless exercise. It only aggravates the tense situation.

***

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