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My Mom Manipulates Our Child!

Questioner

A

Reply Date

May 16, 2017

Question

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 is helping to potty train my child as she knows I will be able to start her in school, so that she can retain control for as long as possible. 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. I have tried my best in my lifetime to obey my mother no matter how many times I had to lie and crawl at her feet even if she was wrong, but it's a whole different ball game since I have married and worse again since I have had a child. She constantly proclaims she is a great mother and I am the scapegoat, not really my brother. I am the bad child. How do you fight someone who in the eyes of the family and the public is a great mother and very righteous person? How do you fight perfect when you are the liar, even to your own child? 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. He tries hard to still tell me to obey her, but sometimes he is ready to lose it. My mother keeps pushing until she provokes a reaction, then I am chastised for my insubordination. Help me!

Counselor

Answer


child

As-Salamu ‘Alaykum sister,

I am sorry to hear of 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 chose to have someone other than your mother watch your child, such as placing her in daycare which 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. 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 the ultimate choice to have a child being taken care of by the grandparent, sometimes if there is friction or disputes among family members, other alternatives to childcare is usually in the best interest for the child if the child is being affected by family disputes and disagreements. While it is your duty to treat your mother with 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.

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, based on what you wrote and how both you and your husband feel, it is incumbent upon you to work together to find a suitable solution, for in the end it will be your daughter who suffers from this discord. You stated he asked you to obey your mom which is very honorable, however, when actions occur which are in conflict with Islam (such as teaching a child to disobey or disrespect his/her mother), 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. It is quite possible your mom suffers from depression or some other psychological manifestation that seems to have occurred even when you were growing up. 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, that somewhere in her life she has experienced possibly a loss, abuse or other traumatic event which may be causing her to act the way she does.

Often times, when our parents, who are so close to us, 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, and it really has nothing to do with us.

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, such as saying “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 and boundaries, you may see a decrease of certain behaviors that were once tolerated and fought against. Aboutislam states “Often times, 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 controlling 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.”

I also suggest dear sister that you keep in prayer, read Qur’an, make du’aa’ for your m+om 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!

***

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.




About Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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