My mother in law has problems with relationships. Her daughter died at a young age so she always gets angry. I lived with her for 2 and a half years. She also looks after her daughter's son, but I had to play with her grandchild from morning to evening. I had to do whatever my mother in law and he would say.
My husband is good, but he told me you have to obey my mother in law and his nephew. But now I’ve got my own house and children and whenever they come they bully us, especially her grandchild of 8 years bullies my child who is 3 years old.
Should I set boundaries? Such as that he can’t come into the house if he bullies or teases my children, or what should I do? My mother in law is also unjust with other children. Please help.
In this counseling answer:
•Your husband is supposed to protect you from such treatment.
•You are to be kind and helpful to your mother in law, but you do not have to put up with intrusions into your home and bullying behavior.
•Please do discuss with your husband the respect you deserve as a woman, Muslim and wife.
•You can discuss Islamic rules with your mother in law, kindly telling her that as a Muslim family, manner is important in your home.
As salamu alaykum sister,
Thank you for writing to us. I am sorry to hear about the situation that you are in. May Allah bless you for your kind and patient heart.
Sister, I will do my best to answer your question and provide guidance. However, I am not an Islamic scholar. Please do consult with our Ask the Scholar section in regard to your husband ordering you to obey his mom and eight-year-old nephew.
Obedience and Rights
Sister, you are to obey your husband, yes. However, there are limitations. For instance, your husband should not let his parents mistreat you or take advantage of you. You are not to be bullied by them either. Your husband is supposed to protect you from such treatment. As you kindly and lovingly helped while you were living there, it seems that you (and your children) are expected to put up with current mistreatment. You now have additional responsibilities such as a home and your children to look after, and their behavior when visiting is troublesome. Not only are you being bullied, but your children are as well. This can harm your children and ruin a happy home life.
You are to be kind and helpful to your mother in law, but you do not have to put up with intrusions into your home and bullying behavior. You have a right to run your home as you like if it is in an Islamic manner. Why your husband thinks you should obey an eight-year-old child who is puzzling? You are a grown woman and you deserve respect, that is your right. It is sad that his mom died, however, that does not give him liberty to bully people and get away with bad behaviors.
I would kindly suggest dear sister that you sit with your husband and talk to him about the situation. You may wish to point out that you love his family but that bullying behaviors are haram and cannot be tolerated. You may wish to point out the negative effect it has on you and the children.
Kindly ask him to speak with his mom about implementing some discipline for her grandchild. You may wish to point out that the child’s behavior is not in alignment with Islamic manners and if it continues, he may end up being a troubled person when he gets older.
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It is also a bad example for your own children. You may wish to go over some basic home rules that everyone should follow which are conducive to a happy Muslim family.
Sister, please do discuss with your husband the respect you deserve as a woman, Muslim and wife. I am sure he would not want anyone outside of the family disrespecting you or bullying you. Therefore, he should not permit it from his own family. In Islam, you are a pearl, with a highly respected position. You were not married to be a slave, to be abused nor to obey a mean mother in law, nor an eight-year-old child. You are to be cherished and respected.
If your husband refuses to change the situation, dear sister, I would kindly suggest that you begin to implement the correct Islamic adab (manner) that is to be followed in your home.
The concept of Islamic adab insists that Muslims should be differentiated by their immaculate interactions with other people, the environment, and ultimately – the purpose of adab – with Allah ﷻ.
You can discuss these rules with your mother in law, kindly telling her that as a Muslim family, manner is important in your home. As your husband stresses obedience which is Islamic, he should also stress manner which is Islamic also. We can’t pick and choose what we will adhere to.
We wish you the best, sister,
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.