I come from a very religious and cultural family. But the way my parents practice Islam is very cultural and controlling.
They rarely let me see my friends and do not think girls should have careers. For the longest time, my mother has always been angry, demanding, and controlling.
She's never pleased with me and is always finding ways to insult me or pick a fight with me. She calls me disappointment and says that I can never compare with her.
Her only pride in me is that I memorized Quran and she tells everyone that because she feels like it was only attainable because of her, and for attention.
She always cares about what others think and not about my happiness. It doesn't help that she doesn't agree with what I am majoring in college, and she claims that I'm ruining relations with my other family members because of it.
I feel unloved by her. I have tried to talk to her gently and tell her how I feel, but she refuses to listen and blames everything on me. She's always screaming, yelling, and overall being negative, yet she expects me to respect her.
Admittedly, I talk back to her because I feel like if I don't, I will let her get to me. Also, because she tries to force Islam on me, I feel very suffocated and have committed some sins that I am not proud of.
Please help me. I am so tired of her that I cannot even tolerate her presence.
In this counseling answer:
•She does not hate you, she just wants you to be the best you can be only she is going about it in a harsh way.
•Try to reach a compromise with your parents concerning going out sister.Ask to have your friends come over. Do things at the home first.
•I encourage you to continue to follow your career goals and dreams. Go to the Masjid often for prayer as well as classes and social events.
•If you are feeling depressed , please do seek out professional counseling.
Thank you for writing to us with your most important concerns.
As I understand, your family is very cultural and the way they practice Islam is in a controlling and cultural way. This includes the feeling that girls should not have careers and not being able to see friends.
Additionally, you stated that your mom is angry, controlling and demanding; calls you a disappointment, is never pleased with you; states you can never compare to her; she screams and yells at you as well as refuses to listen to you when you try to speak gently to her about your concerns.
Sister, it sounds as though you really do love your family and wish to have good relations. Additionally and very important, you wish to be accepted by your family. Wanting to be accepted by those we love is natural.
A child usually seeks their parent’s approval and desires to make them happy and proud of them. As you stated, your parents practice Islam which is heavily embedded with cultural norms.
Knowing this, it may come as no surprise that this is something that is often difficult to change in a family as traditions and cultural values have been passed down from generation to generation.
The importance of education
Concerning your education and choice of a major sister, I would kindly suggest that you get together Islamic proofs of the importance of education in Islam. For instance, Khadijah the Prophet’s (PBUH) first wife – was a businesswoman and a very successful one at that!
Surely it took a lot of wisdom and knowledge to run a business. His youngest wife, Aisha was very knowledgeable and a scholar and promoted the education of women in law and teachings of Islam.
There are many, many other examples of great Muslima’s throughout history who were educated and used their knowledge to advance many fields of study for humankind.
Sister, whatever field you are studying in, just search on the internet for Islamic examples of Muslima’s in this career.
I am sure you will find many. You may wish to discuss these proofs and examples in a respectful way when challenged about your career choice. This insha’Allah may negate the cultural expectations and refocus the structures on Islamic ways and values.
Everyone needs friends in life. Our Muslim sisters are a great source of strength, knowledge, fun and we look forward to building lifelong relationships with each other as we are growing up.
Perhaps you may wish to try to reach a compromise with your parents concerning going out sister. I would kindly suggest that you ask to have your friends come over. Do things at the home first.
This way it may build ease and trust within your parents. When they appear to be comfortable with your friends, ask if you can go over to (name friend) home one night a week or meet them out for dinner.
Insha’Allah by this time they will be used to your friends and will comply with your wishes.
You do need a social life. However, if they are still reluctant, there will not be much that can be done as you are living in their home and must follow their rules.
Insha’Allah they will come to understand that your social time is not only halal, but a much-needed component in your life.
Your mom does not hate you
Sister, your mom does love you – very much. She is just trying to keep you close the only way she knows how-which was probably taught to her by her mom.
Her mom maybe treated her, as she treats you. She does not hate you, she just wants you to be the best you can be only she is going about it in a harsh way. However, maybe this is the only way she knows how to relate. I know it hurts, the way she is treating you.
I know it hurts when she says you can never compare to her. The truth is that when people say that, they usually have either low self-esteem, have experienced disappointments in fulfilling their own dreams /goals or they just cannot accept that others are acclimating above and beyond them.
I am willing to say, that maybe your mom had lots of dreams and goals as a young girl – just like you do.
I am also willing to say that possibly her mom squashed her dreams as she is trying to do to you and succeeded. Thus, this may be the only way your mom knows and with it comes bitterness, resentment, and anger.
Show honor and respect
Not at you sister but at her own lost dreams and goals because of the way she was raised. And the limitations put on her. When she is in your presence, please do try to take this into account and perhaps it will not be as irritating to you.
Check out this counseling video
I kindly suggest dear sister that you continue o show honor and respect to your mom. Insha’Allah understand the dynamics from which she is coming from.
Understand her harshness and anger is not about you-but is probably about her own disappointments in life.
With this knowledge and empathy, it may insha’Allah make it easier for you to deal with, knowing you are not the cause of her anger and control issues and knowing that yes, she does love you.
I encourage you to continue to seek good halal friends and halal social times.
I encourage you insha’Allah to continue to follow your career goals and dreams. Go to the Masjid often for prayer as well as classes and social events.
Engage in charity work. Keep yourself focused on the good things that you can do right now. It may be difficult for a while as your at home now, but insha’Allah it will pay off later in the form of lifelong Muslim sisters as friends. A career which you enjoy as well as eventual improved relations with family once they see you are dedicated, pious and successful in this life.
As you stated: “I feel very suffocated and have committed some sins that I am not proud of”. I encourage you to repent to Allah for any sins you have committed. Renew your relationship with Allah through prayer, duaa, Islamic study, dhkir, reading/reciting Qur’an. Promise yourself that you won’t let the pressures of life ever pull you away from Allah ta ala again.
Allah is our rope sister, we don’t ever want to lose that connection. I believe you are a string sister and I believe that insha’Allah you can get through this very short time you have at your parents’ home.
In only a few years, you will be living in your own home possibly married or maybe not – depending on what you chose. Try to make this time at your parents home one of determination to not only focus on your goals but refine and draw tighter your relationship with your Creator.
Your parents do love you sister, never doubt that. They just have different expectations as they are coming from a more culturally traditional space and you are of the younger generation, perhaps wanting a different life for yourself and that is okay, as long as it is in alignment with Allah’s commands for us.
As you stated you feel suffocated, I am not sure if you are feeling depressed but if you are, please do seek out professional counseling.
You are in our prayers sister, we wish you the best.
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