My 19-year-old daughter ran away to live with her father's family, who are either non-practicing Muslims or have deserted Islam.
However, she is asking me to pay her bills and school fees. What should I do?
In this counseling answer:
• Assuming she is not yet married, she still very much relies on you. You can use this contact as an opportunity to build bridges once more.
• Nurture a comfortable relationship that will encourage her to come back to get the love and support that she needs from you as a mother.
• Be a good role model to her that she will be strong enough to practice Islam even if she is in the presence of those who do not.
• Do things together that you know she enjoys, go to places you know she likes to go.
• Once the relationship has reached a good space this will be the most ideal time to possibly come up with some kind of mutual agreement. Perhaps, over time, she will make the decision herself to go back to you.
Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh
This must be a very distressing time for you as not only has your daughter run away, but she is staying with people who are not practicing Islam which is naturally leaving you concerned about her.
Alhamdulilah, she is still staying in touch with you so there is still hope. However, it is important to be cautious about how you do so so as to keep her in a place where there is still a chance to influence her positively.
It is generally best not to be too pushy in such situations as you risk pushing her away altogether where you will no longer be able to have any influence over her.
She is an adult now so is old enough to make her own decisions, but assuming she is not yet married, she still very much relies on you and this is why she has reached out to you. You can use this contact as an opportunity to build bridges once more.
Without being aware of why she left in the first place I can only advise more generally. The fact that she left perhaps indicates some difficulties between you or perhaps she just reached an age where she felt the need to explore life a bit more beyond the home, so you might begin by rebuilding and strengthening the relationship again.
Nurture a comfortable relationship that will encourage her to come back to get the love and support that she needs from you as a mother and this way you can feel more satisfied that she is in an environment where Islam is practiced.
Be a good role model
From afar you can still be a good role model to her that she will be strong enough to practice Islam even if she is in the presence of those who do not.
If she looks to you as a strong female role model, she will aspire to follow. Seeing you happy and confident in your Deen, practising and content she will be more likely to take the same path.
Perhaps you might work on your relationship by gradually increasing the time you spend together.
Do fun and enjoyable things together that will facilitate building a good relationship together. It may just meet up on a set day each week, to begin with.
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Do things together that you know she enjoys, go to places you know she likes to go. This will make it easier to build the relationship as she will be in a comfortable space and therefore you can both be comfortable to talk on deeper matters over time.
It will give her the chance to open up about her feelings and for you to express your concerns. This will open the doors for you then to discuss your concerns about funding her schooling etc when you are concerned about her environment.
Once the relationship has reached a good space this will be the most ideal time to possibly come up with some kind of mutual agreement; something that is agreed between the 2 of you without being something that you impose upon her.
For example, you might agree that you will pay for her schooling if she stays at home so that you don’t have the extra to pay for bills.
Or else, you may continue to meet up regularly so that you can keep an eye on her. That is, monitoring that she is not going astray.
If you can see that she is practicing despite living in a less conducive environment you can at least feel comfortable that she is not being influenced belt her surroundings, whilst you can maintain a positive influence on her.
Perhaps, over time, she will make the decision herself to go back to you. If she does not and you see her remain strong in faith you can be reassured that she is a strong young woman able to face the struggles of living as a Muslim in the West.
Either way, maintaining a good relationship and letting her know that your doors are always open will provide her with the support she needs whatever she should face.
May Allah reward your concerns for her and may He guide her on the straight path and bring comfort in your hearts between one another.
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.