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My Funny Brother Becomes Numb Person, What to Do?

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Aug 02, 2019

Question

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 at 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.

Counselor

Answer


My Funny Brother Becomes Numb Person, What to Do?

In this counseling Answer:

•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.

•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.

•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.


As salamu alaykum,

Shokran for writing to us. 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).

My Funny Brother Becomes Numb Person, What to Do? - About Islam

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.


Check out this counseling video:


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.

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 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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