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Depressed By My Controlling Parents

06 May, 2023
Q My parents are the root of my depression; they tell me that everything is haram.

I'm aware of Islam teachings, but my father reads too much into it.

He claims that as long as I'm under his roof, he has complete responsibility for me including my sins.

For that purpose, I'm not allowed to be out late, spend the night at my Muslim friends' house, or study abroad (which is something I've always wanted to do).

He says that he will be judged for it. I am such a devoted Muslim. I don't understand why my parents don't trust me.

I couldn't do anything that displeases Allah. I'm over 18 now and I am able to do what I want under the law, but I don't want to disobey them.

I just want them to let me be happy. I feel caged and smothered by them. Please help.


As-salamu alaykum sister,

We first must appreciate that we are all at different levels of understanding in Islam.

We can read an ayat (verse from the Qur`an) one day, and then at a later date when we read the same ayat again we will realize that we have another but not entirely different meaning, born out of the experience and lesson that life has given to us.

For your parents they have an understanding which differs from yours and their experience of life, it seems has led them to live in seclusion which adds to that understanding.

You are young and the young are in need of the lessons of life, but with the guidance of parents.

This is how you achieve your independence and sense of responsibility. However, out of fear for the children, sometimes as parents, we can be a bit too over-protective.

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It is not a case that the parents do not trust you the daughter, but a case that they fear the outside world and your ability to not be influenced by it.

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As parents, we sometimes forget that our children came through us, but they are not of us. This can be better explained by ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph, when he said:

“ Do not force your children to behave like you, for surely they have been created for a time which is different to your time”.

At the same time, we want them to better than us, and fear anything that might lead them in the wrong direction. It is a fine balance.

If we allow them too much freedom then they might come into contact with friends that might lead them astray, which does happen if you just take a look around you.

I would just like you to look at your friends and think about each one, their characters, their home lives, and their interests.

Which one has a lot of freedom and why? How does that freedom benefit them? Do they ever seek guidance from their parents? How would they behave towards your parents? As you consider these questions have in mind something else.

They fed and clothed you, cleaned up after you, witnessed you through your different periods of life and were tolerant when you became a handful. Whenever you have a problem with your parents remember this.

So the question remains how can we bridge the gap that exists between you and your parents in this regard. The answer patience.

Patience does not mean just waiting for what you want to happen, it means paying attention to other things, allowing the opportunity to present itself and trust in Allah (SWT) in the meantime.

There is another saying that some children are born for themselves, and others are born for their parents.

By this, it is meant that those who are born for their parents have a lesson for their parents. Maybe you are to teach them how to not be so afraid and the best lessons are those that are learned naturally.

With patience and love, you must be aware that your parents fear aspects of the outside world, so for you to spend reasonable time with your friends you must help your parents understand that you have needs, that if suppressed can also be misdirected.

Develop your relationship enough with them so that you can invite a suitable friend home to study together for example. It is in your interest to let your parents get to know your friends.

Controlling Parents

Also, make sure that the parents of your invited friends have your address and telephone number.

This is in the interest of your friend. This way, who knows, maybe, a relationship can develop between the parents of your friends and your parents.

This gives your parents peace of mind and provides a safety net for you… just in case! It is not unusual for something to happen on the way to a friend by the way so these are additional considerations.

Check out this counseling answer:

As for staying out late at night and overnight with friends, if the later is to happen, do not force the issue, let it happen naturally for your parents must have complete faith in the friend you choose to stay with.

Staying out late at night from where you stand might seem exciting, but after a while it can get a bit boring and even before then it can be quite dangerous depending on where you live.

The other aspect is that there tends to be more males out at night than during the day time, so you will have a pretty difficult task of convincing your parents that it is okay.

This could probably be best reserved for special occasions like birthday or wedding parties and get your father to arrange to bring you home or to have you brought home if he is that worried.

What is important here is to be able to establish a reasonable social life, and if done with your parents in mind, you might not only find the balance that you seek, but you might be able to instigate your parents’ social life which is important in Islam.

We visit each other not only in times of need but to also enrich our social existence, as Islam recognizes that we are social beings. Encourage your parents to go out for picnics and events at the local Islamic center for example. Just remember:

“ Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of the (guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully…” ( Aal `Imran 3: 28).

In other words, avoid spending time with those who indulge in idle or bad talk ( e.g. gossip) and bad behavior for it only reflects their weaknesses, which can become yours out of a need to belong or a need to not feel like a stranger.

Treasure your practicing Muslim friends over your non-practicing Muslim and non-Muslim friends for then you are assured of not being misled.

With patience and love you can achieve much just take one step at a time.



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About Hwaa Irfan
Late Hwaa Irfan, may her soul rest in peace, served as consultant, counselor and freelance writer. Her main focus was on traditional healing mechanisms as practiced in various communities, as opposed to Western healing mechanisms.