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My Mom Manipulates Our Child!

28 November, 2021
Q Salam. My mother takes care of my daughter as my husband and I have no other alternative while we work. I would prefer putting her in daycare, but my mother said we would really upset her if I ever did that.

I have told her many times to please stop washing my child's clothes, our clothes, etc., which she would do for a short time, just to pretend that she respects my wishes, but then secretly starts again.

If we express a wish with regards to our daughter, for example, we ask her to ensure she is buckled in the car seat until the car stops, my mother unbuckled her and if questioned, she denies it.

She brainwashes my daughter and trains her to scream and do other types of bad behavior and bad manners. I believe she does this because in most of my life I have not allowed her to control me.

Please help. My child is losing respect for me. In the eyes of the world, my mother is like an angel, therefore no one believes me when I try to explain that she is a bully and a mischief-maker.

How do you fight someone who does not respect your boundaries and when you complain she says I should be grateful and she is only ‘helping’? My husband and I have tried many times to talk to her and explain, but we have stopped because it is exhausting and she is finding different ways to be intrusive and to manipulate our child. I have spent a lifetime trying to fight her, but it is infinitely more complicated now that I have a child.

It is very hard for me not to snap at her. Oh, how I long for there to be some exemption in my religion that would make me able to just cut off my tormentor. But I keep raising my hands and begging for it to end.

I keep thinking I am a bad person as I would be grateful the day she dies, and no one will understand why and they will think I am a bad daughter. But they have no idea what level of mental and physical abuse I have suffered, and now I have to take it and watch her ruin my child.

My mother lies and controls my father to support her abusive behavior in the name of 'what is best for my child'. I wish I did, but there is nowhere to run.

My only consolation is that my husband understands me. He never used to believe me, but he is now also a scapegoat since we had a daughter and she is now completely under the influence of my mother. Help me!

Answer

In this counseling answer:

Place your daughter in daycare.

Sit down with your husband and ask for his guidance for a solution.

Oftentimes, abusive parents are abusive because they themselves have been injured along life’s path. Try communicating with her with kindness.

I also suggest dear sister that you keep in prayer, read Qur’an, make du’aa’ for your mom and family.

As-Salamu ‘Alaykum sister,

I am sorry to hear about the problems you have concerning your mother.  While I am not sure of your living arrangement (in regards to whether you, your husband and daughter live with her), you should choose to have someone other than your mother watch your child.

Daycare

Place her in daycare. This is not cutting off relations as you are only choosing another caretaker for your children. You are not cutting off your mother from your life, and if your mother chooses to cut off relations because of that, it would be sad. 

While I am not an Islamic scholar, I do know that many families choose others rather than the grandmothers to watch their children for various reasons.

My Mom Manipulates Our Child! - About Islam

Sometimes, and especially in your situation, having a child in daycare instead of a grandparent caring for the child has helped many families to have a better relationship with each other.

While it is Islamically ideal that the grandparents take care of the grandchild, sometimes if there is friction or disputes among family members, other alternatives to childcare could usually serve the best interest of the child. After all, family disputes do have a negative impact on children.

While it is your duty to treat your mother with the utmost respect, it is also your duty to ensure your child is raised with good Islamic values, respect for you and others, and brought up in a peaceful, drama-free environment.  

Often times, our parents mean well, but in actuality they are doing more harm than good.

It seems you have had a troubled relationship with your mom most of your life. While I do not know her background or the things that occurred in your childhood and growing up, it is evident that this situation is now hurting you beyond what you can bear as you have a child.

Pros and Cons List

You stated that your husband has also had several confrontations with your mom in regards to the issues going on.

Dear sister, I would suggest sitting down with your husband and asking for his guidance for a solution. Perhaps you each can write a list of the benefits and deficits of having your mom watch your daughter.

Pray on it and in sha’ Allah perhaps you both can come to a solution regarding the care of your child.

Abouislam states “The responsibilities of a married woman towards her parents are like those of any other woman. The rights a woman owes her parents remain intact and sacred, both before and after marriage. But obedience to the husband takes precedence over obedience to the parents if there is a conflict.

Having said this, the Muslim couple must strive to avoid the occurrence of such conflict. They should do their best to let the atmosphere of love and harmony prevail in their relations with their in-laws.”

Sister, you need to work together to find a suitable solution.

Abusive Parents

You stated he asked you to obey your mom which is very honorable. However, when actions occur which are in conflict with Islam, then things must be re-discussed. 

Again, I am not a scholar, so you may want to consult with our “Ask the Scholar” section regarding obedience to parents who are misguiding grandchildren.  

Sister, no one is perfect. Your mom may suffer from depression or some other psychological manifestation that happened in her past.

She appears to be afraid of something as she is seeking to control a lot. You mentioned her wishes for Janazah which in itself illustrates that there is something wrong. Somewhere in her life she has experienced possibly a loss, abuse, or other traumatic events that cause her to act the way she does.

Often times, when our parents act in ways which are abusive or hurtful towards us on a consistent basis, it is because they themselves have been injured along life’s path. It really has nothing to do with us.

Show Love

I encourage you in sha’ Allah to show her loving kindness. Say nice things, do not react to her negativity as hard as it may be. You can avoid negative conversations as they arise by excusing yourself from the situation. For example, say “I am sorry, I love you mom, but I need to leave this conversation as it hurts me”. Or however you chose to phrase it.

In sha’ Allah, with this different method of communication, you may see a decrease in certain behaviors that were once tolerated.

Aboutislam states “Oftentimes, what a person really needs is attention and to feel loved, but they lash out and scream so the attention that they get is negative.

For example, the attention that your mother gets from you when she says mean things or becomes controlling is your negative reaction of upset. So, the trick is to ignore her when she is controlled by not reacting to it, and ignore her when she says mean things.

Then, later, when she is not being mean or controlling, remind her that you love her very much and give her some positive attention when she is not being mean or controlling.”

Family Time, Prayer

I also suggest dear sister that you keep in prayer, read Qur’an, make du’aa’ for your mom and family.

I suggest that you focus on your immediate family, your husband, your daughter, and yourself. Try to enjoy family time together, plan fun times with other families, go out for lunch with friends, and begin to distance yourself from all the drama with your mom.

Don’t cut her off! Show loving support, but keep just a little distance so you can have some peace, enjoy your married life, and begin to heal yourself from the pain and sadness that you have been through.

Please let us know how you are doing sister; you are in our prayers!

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 Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.