Insecure Father, What About the Children?

02 September, 2020
Q I am a mother of four children between the ages of 6-12. My problem is how to bring them up as positive, secure, confident children while their father is totally the opposite of all these characteristics. A father is supposed to be the source of protection and emotional security for the children and hence he should be secure and confident himself.

This is totally the opposite with my husband; as a child he was brought up in a way that made him grow up lacking self-confidence, lacking trust in people and feeling insecure. The problem is that he tries to compensate for his insecurity and lack of self-confidence by continuously negatively criticizing my kids, continuously blaming them on every trivial mistake, making fun of them as if joking with them, scolding them in front of people, belittling their achievements.

I tried so many times to convince him that such behavior would have extremely negative effects on their personalities but he always argues that this is the best way of ‘tarbiah’ and that you should magnify the mistakes so that a child never repeats his mistakes, etc.

I don’t know what I should do especially when they feel depressed or frustrated. Shall I be on their side and tell them their father is wrong? Or should I try to protect the image of the good father and to appear as if their father and I are one unit and not having contradicting views and thus preventing them from getting confused about who is right and who is wrong?

Answer

In this counseling answer:

• Speak to your husband in private and inform him that the way he’s treating the children is not Islamic, it is destructive, harmful, and abusive and can no longer be tolerated.

• You may need to base your conversation with him on the Qur’an, hadiths, and illustrations on how the prophet (PBUH) treated children and others.

• Ask your husband if he would be willing to go to family counseling with you.

• If he refuses, please do speak with an imam at your Masjid for an intervention.


As salamu alaykum sister,

Shokran for writing to our live session. I am sorry to hear about your situation at home with your husband and children.

As you stated you have four children between the ages of 6 and 12. You describe your husband as growing up lacking self-confidence, lacking trust, and feeling insecure.

You state that he tries to compensate for his insecurities by constantly criticizing the children, blaming them for every little mistake, making fun of them, scolding them front of people, and belittling them for their achievements.

Husband is Emotionally Abusive Towards Children

Sister this kind of treatment of children is emotionally abusive. It is likely that your children will grow up feeling very negative about themselves.

It could be that they may develop depression or other mental health issues due to constantly being criticized and belittled. As they are between the ages of 6 and 12, they are at a very impressionable age. The way you described how your husband treats the children is rather traumatic.

The way he treats the children is not in accordance with Islam. If we look at our beloved prophet (PBUH), he did not belittle, criticize, nor make fun of children.

He was very gentle and loving with children. Perhaps you need to bring this point up to your husband, who seems to think that  it is Islamic to treat children in such an abusive manner.

Insecure Father, What About the Children? - About Islam

Speaking with Husband

As your husband grew up dysfunctional, it is unlikely that he will be willing to change his ways now. Alhamdulillah if he does, but it is unlikely. Only Allah knows.

Sister, I would kindly suggest insha’Allah that you speak to your husband in private and inform him that the way he’s treating the children is not Islamic, it is destructive, harmful, and abusive and can no longer be tolerated.

Base your conversation with him on the Qur’an, hadiths, and illustrations on how the prophet (PBUH) treated children and others.

Counseling for Husband

I kindly suggest that at this point, you ask your husband if he would be willing to go to family counseling with you.

This would be for your husband, with you there as a support. This is not marriage counseling, but it is family counseling to help him see the errors in his methodology with the children. Insha’Allah he will agree and insha’Allah he will eventually be willing to go for counseling for his own issues.

If Husband Refuses to Change or Address Issues

If he does not agree with anything you are discussing with him, I would kindly advise you to speak with the imam at your Masjid. Insha’Allah, the imam can be of some assistance by speaking with your husband and trying counseling him, or by encouraging him to seek counseling.

If your husband is truly concerned about Islamic values and being a good husband and father, he will be open to Islamic counseling regarding parenting.

Emotionally Supporting the Children

You mentioned if you should explain to the children that their father is wrong, or to continue protecting the image of the ”good father”.  

Sister, it is probably already apparent to them that he is not being a good father. Insha’Allah please do praise them for their achievements, encourage them with kind words, and ensure they know how important and loved they are. 

We are to stand as one with our spouse yes, however not when it is going against Islamic principles, values or is at the detriment of a child’s well-being. 

You have the obligation to inform them their father is wrong, and that they are valuable, smart, loved, and wonderful children. You also have the obligation to provide a warm, loving, safe home for them, even if it means having your husband move out if he will not get help or change.


Check out this counseling video


Accountability

As both you and your husband brought into the world four children by the blessings of Allah, you both are responsible for their well-being. This includes their physical and mental well-being, as well as protecting them from any neglect or abuse, including emotional abuse.

You are a wonderful mom who is very concerned about her children. I am sure your husband loves the children as well; however, he is unhealthy for them. He will be accountable to Allah for his actions.

As you are aware of the situation, you will be as well, as you are expected to protect your children. You say that the children are already getting depressed.  Children should not suffer with depression due to a parent’s emotional abuse.

I understand dear sister you are torn; however, as you are the only one in the home who can stop this, it does depend on your actions.  May Allah make this easy for you sister.

Counseling for a Plan of Action

Sister, I kindly ask that you to seek counseling for yourself in order to develop a plan of action to protect your children when your husband is emotionally abusing them. 

I suggest seeing an Islamic counselor if possible as this will strengthen your resolve and provide additional Islamic supports.

Possible Future Outcomes

As your children have already exposed to this emotional abuse for some time now, and they are already depressed and frustrated, and at least one of them is a preteen, if the behavior does not stop the child that is 12 may start to rebel and may develop other problems trying to cope with the situation at home.

All four of your children may need counseling sister.  Insha’Allah, you can avoid further damage to them by addressing the situation now. This may help reduce any faulty coping mechanisms that they have developed or may develop as they get older.

Conclusion

Sister please do speak with your husband about the treatment of the children. Ask him if he’s willing to go for counseling with you. If he refuses please do speak with an imam at your Masjid for an intervention.

If this does not work he may have to move out for the children’s well-being. Insha’Allah please do seek counseling for yourself. This is not an easy path sister, but you will be blessed for your efforts in helping your children. Trust in Allah, he loves you and the children.

We wish you the best.

Salaam,

***

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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 projects.