He has never been a good parent. We divorced when she was a baby. Her desire to live with him was granted by the court even though he admitted to dealing with her badly all the last years, and that he saw nothing wrong with that. I am so heartbroken.
I know she will have no supervision there, and no one will watch what happens with her school work and such. The place he lives is a rough area.
The school is noted as not a very good one. But what hurts most of all is that I feel she has tossed me to the side, and all that I have done for her for years means nothing to her. I
feel dead. I don't know how to deal with my daughter.
In this counseling answer:
Try seeing the situation from her viewpoint.
The whole discussion should revolve around what is in the best interest of the child. Then consider what is in the best interest of the mother. And only then, what is in the best interest of the father.
Respect your daughter’s decision.
Your daughter will always remain your daughter. Be her best friend. You are her mentor. Be her guide.
Please don’t use your daughter as a tool to get revenge on your husband.
As-salamu `alaykum dear sister,
Thank you for the question that you have submitted to us for consideration.
You are very hurt and upset by the decision that your daughter has taken. That is understandable considering that you have raised her since she was born.
You feel that she has deserted you. And that she does not show loyalty for your feelings after all that you have done for her.
You also feel bad that even though her father was not a good parent over the years, she has still now decided to be with him instead of you. Furthermore, even the court has decided to grant custody to the father and not to you.
All the above feelings, emotions, hurt, and misery are understandable for someone in your shoes.
Finding Acceptance And Healing
However, my advice to you would be to consider the comments that follow. Please note that these comments do not ignore the emotional suffering that you experience. They are a way for you to find acceptance and healing.
Seeing Things from The Other’s Perspective
I have found in my own experience that when one removes oneself “mentally” from the problem, then it is better to see the whole situation more objectively from another person’s point of view, like an “independent arbitrator.”
There are three people involved in this story. The mother, the father, and the child.
No mention is made for the reason the divorce soon after the baby was born.
There could be many reasons such as mental problems with the mother or father. Perhaps external problems such as money, family, and so on.
Whatever the reason is, the main thing to remember is that the child is an innocent victim. Therefore, the whole discussion should revolve around what is in the best interest of the child. Then what is in the best interest of the mother. And only then, what is in the best interest of the father.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked who should be shown most kindness and he (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Your mother.” And after that who? Again he (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Your mother.” And after that? Again he (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Your mother.” And after that? He (peace and blessings be upon him) then said, “Your father.” (Saheeh Muslim)
So, there is no doubt whatsoever that a mother has a very high and unique status in Islam. She has a position of honor, dignity, respect, and love.
Needs of a Teenager
Al-hamdu lillah, you have tried your very best over the past 14 years to raise your daughter as a single parent. You don’t mention any maintenance that you received from your husband, but nevertheless, it is not easy to raise a child by yourself.
May Allah Most High reward you abundantly for all the efforts and sacrifices that you have made as a mother to raise your child in the best way.
When children grow up, especially when they reach the teenage years (see links below), their need and desire for spending and shopping increases. Furthermore, a child who grows up without a father sometimes wishes to be with the father (if the father has been a kind and good person).
Hence, for the above reasons (which are purely speculation, because I do not know the full details), the possibility exists that your daughter has decided to stay with her father, because she misses him, and he can provide for her spending requirements.
The fact that the matter went to court indicates that there was a dispute. He wanted custody and you refused to give him custody.
As an independent person, my own thinking would be as follows: let us consider two types of fathers (these are extreme examples, but are used simply to illustrate a point).
Father A: Let us assume that Father A is an unemployed drug addict with a prison record, who is a woman abuser and a cruel person.
Father B: Let us assume that Father B has got a good job, earns well, has a nice house, and is a kind and caring person.
Now, if your former husband had qualities like Father A, then I am sure that a court would not give him custody of the child. Therefore, it appears that after weighing all the pros and cons, the court decided that it was in your daughter’s best interest that she stays with her father.
Furthermore, it also appears evident that your daughter has willingly gone to stay with him, which means that it is unlikely that he is cruel or unemployed.
Court and Financial Needs
Furthermore, one of the main factors that family courts consider is the ability of a single parent to take care of the financial needs of the child.
It would appear that the courts decided that the father is in a better position to take care of the financial needs of your daughter.
Unfortunately, in matters of dispute, there is a lot of “mud” thrown around and some things may have been said in court to show that you are an “unfit” mother.
However, taking care of financial needs is only one aspect of the whole child. There is another big component; the emotional needs of the child, which often only the mother is able to deal with effectively.
I would also assume that the court has given you visiting rights to your child.
Suggestions and Way Forward
Remember that you looked after your daughter for the first 14 years of her life. You have been both mother and father since her birth. You have sacrificed and given her all your love. No one can take those 14 years away from you.
Now, it is your husband’s turn to look after your daughter for the next 14 years and let him also share in the burden of parenthood.
Your daughter will always remain your daughter. Be her best friend. You are her mentor. Be her guide. Give her unconditional love and support all the time.
Please don’t use your daughter as a tool to get revenge on your husband. Avoid saying bad things about him when she comes to visit; otherwise, you may risk her stopping visits to you altogether.
Respect the decision of your daughter. It does not mean that she does not love you.
You have every right to phone your daughter and chat with her, make special little gifts for her and her favorite meals—no one can replace a mother’s cooking.
Perhaps in three or four years, she may decide to get married, then she would no longer be staying with you.
May Allah Most High give you sabr (patience) during this time. But please also try to focus on the positive things that can come out of this new arrangement—there is usually a gift within every problem.
You have the high honor and status of a mother. Please look after yourself and do not be hard on yourself.
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.