Counseling Session On Parents and Teens | About Islam
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Counseling Session On Parents and Teens

Session Guest

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.


Tuesday, Oct. 09, 2018 | 08:00 - 10:00 Makkah | 05:00 - 07:00 GMT

Session Status

Session is over.

Salaam `Alaikum dears brothers and sisters,

We would like to thank you for joining us in this Counseling Live Session.

We would like also to thank our counselor, sister Aisha for answering the questions.

Answers will be online very soon.

Feel free to contact us and send your questions anytime to:

[email protected]


As-salamu `alaykum. I have been married to my husband for over 8 years now. We have 2 children, ages 9 (a girl) and 6 (a boy). I only recently converted . Although my husband was born a Muslim, he has not seriously practiced Islam until now. In fact, we consider ourselves to be learning together and try to support each other as much as we can. My question is this: Am I obligated to tell my 9-year-old daughter that my husband is not her biological father?

My husband has completely taken her as his own and prefers not to ask about her biological father beyond what I have told him as the situation is quite upsetting to me. It is a situation of both shame and pain to me. My husband feels to tell her would only cause her to feel the same pain and shame that I have felt all these years. I fear Allah and am ready to face whatever I must. However, if I can spare my daughter without transgressing, I would certainly choose to do so. Please advise me. Thank you for your time and help.



As salamu akaykum sister,

 

Shokran for writing to our live session with your most important concern. First of all congratulations on your reversion to Islam, may Allah bless you and your husband and make your journey a blessed one indeed.

 

Regarding your husband not being your daughter’s biological father even those he raised her from age 1 , from an Islamic perspective you need to tell her. Depending on the circumstances of her conception you may want to write to “Ask the Scholars” section with more details as there are other rulings around this especially if it was a case of rape or incest.

 

According to Healthy Children (1), it is best to start with adoption concepts in the preschool years. However as your daughter is now 9, it is best to tell her now. “If your child is already of school age and has not been told that he is adopted, you need to talk with him about it, as early during this time of life as possible.” Sister, while it may be hard to tell her, she needs to know for her own sense of identity.

 

It sounds as if your husband has been a wonderful father to her and that along with your love and support will be a big plus in her adapting to this news. You do not have to tell her gory details of her biological father or of how she was conceived or anything that would be harmful to her. Basic information minus the hurt and pain.

 

While I am not sure what was involved in this situation sister, I am sorry for your hurt. It sounds like you went through an ordeal, but your daughter does not have to carry that legacy. For example-if she was conceived from a one night stand-she doesn’t have to know that. You can simply state what her fathers name is, personality, what he looks like, and that it did not work out. I do apologize as I do not know the specifics. Forgive me for poor examples, but I am attempting to give basic examples.

 

Insha’Allah I would kindly suggest that you speak with your husband about this from an Islamic viewpoint. I do understand he loves her very much and is trying to protect her but she will find out one day-sooner or later. When she does, she may be angry at you both for not telling her. She may even lose trust in you.

 

This may be a big adjustment for her. Then again, maybe it won’t. Make dua to Allah for ease and mercy before you tell her sister so that insha’Allah things will go smoothly. Again, she does not have to know hurtful details, only basic details of her biological father and circumstances.

 

As you just took shahada and your husband is just beginning to practice, this is the perfect time to get this done and over with. Starting a fresh new life in Islam-with nothing “hanging in the background” is a blessed way to start your family life in Islam. We wish you all the best, you are in our prayers.

 

1. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/adoption-and-foster-care/Pages/When-to-Tell-Your-Child-About-Adoption.aspx


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.



As salamu alaykum,

 

Shokran for writing to our live Session. I am sorry to hear about the situation with your brother. It must be very hard as well as confusing for your whole family to see how he has changed. This is a difficult age. At 14, young people are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in. It is not unusual for them to want to try new and different fads as well as lifestyles. It is a time of identity searching as well as questioning belief systems.

 

With that said, in Islam around 14 years old the goal and position of parenting is to be more like a friend. At this age, he may make choices that are independent of how he was raised. Instead of yelling, crying and hitting him (which may be why he appears numb right now).

 

I would kindly suggest that you “accept” his choice but continue with Islamic encouragement. While this may seem like giving up-its quite the opposite. As he is 14, he is Islamically responsible for his own actions and choices. Thus far, hitting, yelling and crying has only pushed him further away from Islam and the family and yes-has probably caused some depression as well.

 

Insha’Allah, if the family stops focusing on what poor choices he is making and begins to comment on good choices, perhaps he will begin to feel less isolated. In time, I would kindly suggest sitting down with him and ask him about this girl. How is she, how is she doing in school, etc. This will surprise him as he is used to resistance and punishment and guilt. Once that is removed-he may feel free to talk and express his emotions. The key to reaching your brother insha’Allah is trust and communication. That will mean you may have to put your feelings aside and listen to his-non-judgmentally.

 

Once your brother begins to open up-insha’Allah, you may be able to gain his trust. Once you have gained his trust he will be more receptive to listening to your guidance and Islamic advice insha’Allah. One important key is to ask him how he feels about certain things. For a young man (or woman) trying to find their way, it is empowering to be asked “how do you feel..”

 

Insha’Allah once your brother goes through this phase and figures out who he is, things will be better. What he is doing (holding hands, wanting non-Muslim friends, changing name, etc) is all a part of wanting to fit in-wanting to belong somewhere that is possibly less judgmental in his eyes.

 

Insha’Allah this will pass and he will return to his Islamic traditions as most young people do who go through these phases. I am more concerned about his affect-meaning his “numbness”, possible depression and tone of voice which you describe as not “natural”.

 

I would kindly suggest dear sister that if after efforts to re-engage him on more acceptable terms if he does not appear less numb and isolated that you suggest counseling for him. It could be that over the past few years he has grown depressed and does need intervention. We wish you the best.


I am 28 years old and I have a very oppressive mother. She is a practicing lady I must admit but from when I gained my senses (7 years) till around 18, she used to physically beat me for the silliest of things. For example when I was 17 and we were in the supermarket she slapped me for not saying Alhamdulillah after I just sneezed.There wasn't a day in school as far as I remeber that she would beat me for scoring less or studying less according to her expectations. This went up till I finished my college, she also used abusive language a lot. She was a working mother, and had worked for 20 years, everyday she came back she was harsh and used her beating to 'Discipline' and educate us.She always takes the side of my younger siblings even if they're wrong(on any Islamic Issue) and whenever I try to make things clear to her about any issues she becomes abusive and uses harsh language. She also once allowed my younger brother(23) to hit me and throw me out of the house. When I started working at 22, I expressed my desire to marry, she kept avoiding it for silly reasons till I married without her knowledge (a great taboo and crime in the Indian society). She was really shocked and created a mess, she called up all my acquaintances and spead false information about me and my new wife (and her family).To this day she keeps repeating her bouts of abusive language to provoke me to an argument and then act as the 'victim' forcing me to leave my job and travel to her and seek forgiveness. Whenever she decides not to talk to me, she also stops talking to my children and hurts them.She keeps talking some of the worse things a lady can speak about another lady (my wife) infront of my siblings. Whenever I visit her she forces anything and everything from the Sunnah or herbal medicine till she becomes argumentative. Sometimes when we patch up and I speak to her politely, in case I speak to her in a polite but loud tone because of the trouble and noise my kids do around me, she suddenly starts fighting and the verbal abuse again. I try to practice Islam according to my best abilities, I am a teacher in a Darul-Hadith. I am also a High BP patient and have kidney issues. Her constant abuse and torture causes me a lot of pain, depression and tension. I live 100kms apart from her and visit her once in a fortnight or a month. It is difficult for me to travel to her all the time to console her leaving my Madrasa and students and also facing a salary loss.My father is a retired government official, she is also very rude towards him, if any of us, I or my 2 younger brothers and sisters try to support our father and advise her, she manipulates my siblings to team up behind her and question the religiosity of the one supporting their dad. She very often hurts and makes our dad cry. I am very depressed now and don't know how to deal with her. Some days ago we had an argument again and she's not talking to me. I don't feel like going and begging pardon again. I call to talk to her and all she says is 'yes ok, yes ok' and cuts the call Please advise.



As salamu alaykum,

 

Shokran for writing in to our live session. I am sad to hear about the way your mom treats you, your siblings and your dad. You described her as “practicing” however manipulation, anger, abuse, hurting others, vile language and causing division are not what a practicing Muslim does.

 

Your mom obviously has some severe mental health issues going on wherein she feels a need for power, control and complete submission from everyone. If it does not occur, or she perceives it not to occur, she lashes out abusively. These are the needs and behaviors of an unstable person.

 

I would kindly suggest dear brother that you stop trying to please her. She appears as one who cannot be pleased as she is not pleased with herself. Show kindness and financial support as needed but do not keep running back looking for the love and acceptance you know she cannot demonstrate right now. Yes she loves you brother, but there are severe issues within her that she needs to address.

 

I would kindly suggest that you pick a time when things are calm and discuss what you love and respect about her as well as things that hurt you and need to be changed. Explain to her that you seek a peaceful, harmonious family but that she needs to address her anger issues to help the whole family heal. Ask her to attend counseling brother. If she refuses, I kindly suggest that you limit your and your families time spent with her. It is toxic. It is not healthy for you, your wife nor your children. Be respectful and kind, but protect your family unit.

 

In Islam we are to respect and care for our parents and treat them with kindness. However we are not to put up with abuse nor un-Islamic behavior. Insha’allah she will get the help she needs. It may take a while before she does and she may have to feel the distance of her family to understand-but insha’Allah she will seek help. I kindly suggest that you begin to live your own life separate from her brother. You deserve to be happy as does your wife and children. You are responsible for the environment you have your family in. This is not a healthy environment. Your children do not deserve to see all this abuse.

 

Separate yourself-yet provide support when needed, focus on healing and spending quality time with your wife and children and make dua to Allah that He touch her heart. You are in our prayers.


My in-laws are non-Muslim. They are very nice to me and are very dear to me as well. My concern is when I drop my daughter off at their house. My mother in law puts religious videos and somewhat teach her their religion stuff. I do not like it. I have already told my husband and he doesn’t say much to me. Therefore, I am all alone in this situation. I have indirectly told them that please don’t play those videos but she doesn’t listen. What step I should take next?



As salamu alaykum dear sister,

 

Shokran for writing to our live session. As I understand, you have great relations with your in-laws and you love each other as well as respect each other. The problem is, that when you drop your daughter off at your in-laws home, your mother in law sometimes plays religious video’s and “somewhat” teaches your daughter.

 

Sister, I am not sure how old your daughter is, that would make a slight difference but here are two ways of looking at this situation. First of all, you have very loving relations with your in-laws. This is a great blessing indeed and makes for a happy family. As they are loving and accepting. It seems that your mom in law in not maliciously playing the videos against your request.

 

She is probably just playing them in her own personal time in her home as she normally would. I would not want to risk ruining a wonderful relationship over videos. It appears that she respects you as Muslim as she has a good relationship with you. She may not be trying to “change” your daughter, but she may try to share with her -her joy. Just as we as Muslims do with others. While yes we do dawah but we also share Islamic video’s, readings and other things with family and friends who are not Muslim. We are sharing our joy and insha’Allah that is what she is doing.

 

Secondly, if your daughter is getting a strong Islamic foundation at home as well as socially, she will be strong in her identity as a Muslim. Through her life, learning about others religions and viewpoints can be to her advantage, especially as she gets older and talks about Islam with others. Your daughter will encounter many people from different religions and it will be to her advantage to know the basics of other belief systems. She will have an advanced understanding of different religions and why Islam is the only and correct path for humankind.

 

I would kindly suggest dear sister that you not make a huge deal of this right now. I would however kindly suggest that insha’Allah you speak with your daughter about these video’s and how she perceives them. You may also want to create a game (age appropriate) to compare Islamic teachings to what her grandmother is watching on the video’s. It can be as simple as question games (i.e. What do we call God and Why-What does grandma call God and why) or a little more complex such as Islamic lessons on why Allah has no partners.

 

The point will be to further increase your daughter’s Islamic knowledge; her understanding of her grandmother’s beliefs as well as answer any questions she may have. Insha’Allah dear sister, your daughter is not even fixated on these video’s but is just enjoying time with her grandmother.

 

I can understand your concern and it is a valid concern however if handled with care and follow up it will not have an affect on her Islam. In fact, she may one day talk to her grandmother about Islam in a way that will lead her heart to Islam! We never know how Allah will work in regards to touching the hearts of non-Muslims especially those who are family. Trust in Allah sister and make dua that your good relationships with your in-laws may one lead to a full Islamic family.

 

We wish you the best.

 


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