How to Deal with Controlling Parents?

30 August, 2020
Q How do we deal with a parent who imposes his way of life and decisions on his children?

bearing in mind that they are 26 years above who have tried all ways to convince him not to!

Answer

In this counseling answer:

•The children need to let the parent know that they are an adult now and can make their own choices. They should try to let the parent know that he cannot control everything.

•It may even be wise if this situation continues to get worse for them to seek family counseling either through traditional means or with the local imam at the very least.


Assalamu alaikum,

As children, we do often get frustrated with the fact that we must obey our parents even when they push us to do things that we don’t want to or can’t see the wisdom behind it.

As we grow up, in most cases, we do come to realize the wisdom behind their actions and often turn to do exactly the same to our own children. However, by the age of 26, most adults have left the home and live independently either with a spouse or even alone and so are not faced with such a strong influence as in early childhood.

If a parent continues to control beyond a reasonable level, it can become very frustrating for the child who is now an adult, as is in this case.

The first thing to do in this scenario is to try and understand why the parent is doing this. Understanding why can help develop a way of managing the situation, and this is more likely to succeed as it is compatible with the parent’s way of thinking.

Often once a child hits the age where they are contemplating leaving home, parents now suddenly gets worried because they will no longer have as much influence over the child or have full awareness of what they are up to.

How to Deal with Controlling Parents? - About Islam

Worried that they may meet bad people and they have no control to keep them away from harm or worried they’ll make bad decisions and they’ll not be around to guide them or support them.

Worried they’ll end up in a situation where they need protecting or moral support and they can’t be there to give it to them. This can be a very daunting prospect. Something that all parents will struggle with as their children enter adulthood, but something some parents can deal with better than others.

This may be exacerbated in scenarios where the child is an only child, where the parents have divorced, or where there has been some trauma suffered by the family.

This is one common explanation for the behavior you have described, and in which case the parent is best felt with a gentle manner where they are offered support to deal with the psychological difficulties they face in letting their child grow up and become independent.

However, an alternative explanation may be that this parent has narcissistic tenancies and is doing it solely as a means of control; not it of concern, but as a means to control the situation and the child.

If this is the case, then a far firmer approach needs to be taken and the child should try not to allow this to happen, The child needs to let the parent know that they are an adult now and can make their own choices, and that they cannot control everything.


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Of course, this has to be done in a way that keeps in mind that children should obey their parents, except in matters where they force them to do something against Islam. So this approach needs to be taken with caution to avoid sinning in the eyes of Allah. Perhaps a way to achieve this for the child is to take some time away.

This way, they are given the chance to do things for themselves without being told what to do by the parent. It also gives the child a chance to be himself, and to have a break from being controlled by the parent. This may also give them a sense of relief and better ability to deal with the situation calmly, yet firmly.

It may even be wise if this situation continues to get worse for them to seek family counseling either through traditional means or with the local imam at the very least. 

This will give them both the chance to speak their minds non-judgementally, have their voices heard and be able to truly distinguish if this truly is the parent just being overprotective, or if they are controlling.

This way they will be advised on how best to deal with the situation and the parent can be made aware of the situation in a way that they may not be aware of, especially if they don’t realize that child is having such a hard time with the situation.

May Allah bring ease to the child and parent and place a love between them that will keep them both happy.

Salam,

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Hannah Morris
Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)