How to Deal with a Broken Family and Stress- Part 2

09 December, 2016
Q Alsalamu Alaikom, I have an issue regarding family matters which I'm hoping you could enlighten me on. The question is going to be a little long because of the details, but please bare with me. For as long as I could recall, my parents had a terrible and abusive relationship, which ended in a divorce after 24 years of marriage. My father was always hostile towards my mother which made me lack respect towards him (between me and myself, I have never raised my voice at him) and he would always travel out of the country for business ventures, so I never really felt like I had a father. Because of her unhealthy relationship with my father, my mother was psychologically distressed which caused an alteration in her character. After being submissive, she became aggressive and it also made her an authoritarian figure (she often tells my younger sister that she's the only one who should have a personality in the house). As years went by, she became more and more intolerant of anyone who disagreed with her and anytime I try to negotiate or disagree with her, she prays that I would lead a sorrowful life in this world and the next. I swear by Allah that I'm not disrespectful to her, she's just intolerant when I formulate my opinion. Going back to her issue with my father, I believe that they have destroyed us. I have an older sister who has become an awful person to the extent that she curses out my parents as she has no respect for neither of them. My other two younger siblings are never get along, as I was with my sister, and I don't even talk to my older sister anymore. Sometimes I feel like moving to another state, but at the same time I don't want to leave my mother by herself, but I just can't handle the stress on myself anymore. I'm a premedical student and I feel that my performance in school has deteriorated from the distress that I'm witnessing everyday and I really don't know what to do anymore. Please advise me on what you think is the best solution in this case. Also, would Allah be displeased with me because of my mother? I swear by Him that I didn't do anything wrong such as talking back or raising my voice at my mother. She has just become intolerant of everything. Now, my finals are around the corner and I can't fully concentrate on my work and of course she's supplicating that I would fail my exams which causes me more distress. Other than the fact that my family structure is completely destroyed and all of my family members despise one another, I often have a sense of despair because of her supplications. I tried my best to be an obedient son, but nothing is working. I'm sorry for the lengthy question, but I really didn't feel like talking to anyone personally about this.

Answer

Walaikum Assalam Brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Please find below the second part of your answer. You can access the first part at this link.

Put yourself in her shoes

It might be impossible for you to do until you get married yourself, but brother, try to put yourself in your mother’s shoes and feel what she has endured.

She was in fact a mistreated, abused, and oppressed woman. And she is now lashing out at her loved ones as a result of the pain that she has endured. She is probably in need of professional mental health treatment and serious counseling.

The problem with parents is that they are not used to listening to their children. They are so used to taking care of their little ones for years, and always telling their little ones what to do (remember that she is the one who taught you how to dress, talk, write, bathe, etc.). It becomes difficult for them to adjust to their child having grown up and holding a different point of view from their own.

It is not uncommon for parents to go into denial regarding this change, which is why your mother probably refuses to let you have an independent or different opinion from hers. She is used to always being in control over you. So, she is refusing to let that control go as you mature into a man.

Do not take this as an affront, but as an indication of her innate, protective, maternal instinct that is preventing her from witnessing the reality that her son has grown up.

Islam allows a mature adult man to have opinions and views different from his parents. Some of the companions of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), who were family members, used to differ with each other regarding personal family matters. So, what can be said about differences between parents and children today?

Rest assured that Islam doesn’t frown upon your independent thinking and opinions about matters, even if your parents disagree with them.

What is disallowed is your disrespect or mistreatment of parents.

Repeatedly remind her about the Hereafter, firmly but gently

After you have admitted the fact that both your parents are fallible human beings who commit sins and make mistakes just like you, you will be able to better prepare yourself for treating the problem. With your mother, you must give her sincere, gentle, but firm advice. 

You have to sincerely and lovingly entreat your mother to give up supplicating against her own children. If she doesn’t allow you to speak, write her a letter or an email. She might overreact to your reminders at first, but you must remain calm, but stay firm.

Couple your practical efforts with dua and seeking the help of Allah through nafl prayers (especially those performed in the last third of the night). If you do this, you will see your efforts bearing fruit very soon, inshaAllah.

I am a mother myself, and I know that even the most hard-hearted mother cannot resist the sincere advice based on pure love given to her by her child.

So, give her a hug, hold her hand, or place your head in her lap, and beg her with tears in your eyes to stop driving you away from her.

Focus on rebuilding your damaged and unprotected family fortress

A combination of the following is a holistic solution to your problem:

  1. Seeking Allah’s help through patience and prayer.
  2. Making sincere dua for your family.
  3. Giving your father, mother, and sisters gentle but firm reminders about their Akhirah (afterlife).
  4. And meting out nothing but the best treatment towards them all.

You must also remember that if you are not wrong, and have not committed any transgression towards your mother, that you can rest assured in knowing that her supplications against you will not be answered by Allah, inshaAllah.

Nevertheless, even if she continues to supplicate against you, continue to fear Allah Almighty in your relationship with her, and engage in a lot of repentance in order to seek Allah’s pleasure.

Brother, there is immense reward in praying for the guidance and betterment of the person who has wronged you, and no matter what she is like, your mother is the most deserving of your good duas.

Lastly, you must make the effort to stay regularly in touch with your father, and to ask about him from time to time, even if this goes against your mother’s wishes or pleasure. Not doing so might result in the severing of all of his ties with you and your siblings, which is something that Allah has forbidden.

Your father has great rights upon you, and the minimum of your good treatment to him, is to stay in touch with him and ask about his welfare, even if you lack respect for him in your heart.

In the end, here is a list of actions that you and your siblings must scrupulously avoid:

1. Praying against or cursing your parents for your misfortunes. Brother, please remove this statement from your thinking: “I believe that they have destroyed us”.

You are NOT destroyed! You are alive, healthy and well, en route to a good career, living in a prosperous country. You have a family (whatever they are like). You are indeed fortunate.

Instead of dwelling on the painful past and engaging in negative, hate-breeding conversations, you and your siblings should try to maturely seek betterment of family relationships through focusing on the future and thinking of practical ways to improve it for everyone involved. Repentance is an essential key to help bring this about.

2. Raising your voice at, or shouting at your parents.

3. Arguing with your parents.

4. Discussing the bad things your parents have done, behind their backs, in order to vent. This is backbiting and it is haram. However, there is no harm in discussing past or current issues in a calm, matter-of-fact, business-like, and general manner (without mentioning names), with the sincere intention of bringing about a long-term correction strategy for all family members.

The focus of your actions should now be reformation and reconciliation between yourselves.

I sincerely pray that Allah places love and harmony in your hearts, fills your homes with peace, and grants you guidance that earns you all His pleasure. Ameen.

Allah knows best. I hope this helps address your issues. Please keep in touch. 

Walaikum Asalam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

A Muslim Woman Shares Her Experience after Divorce

Dua to Remove Stress & Anxiety

9 Prophetic Du’as for Anxiety & Stress

Striving to Keep Family Ties, Need Help

How to Turn Suffering into Healing?