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I’m 50, Single, and Tired of Taking Care of My Parents Alone

21 October, 2021
Q I have been praying for a spouse and children since my early 30’s (I am 50). I'm chaste, I have never dated or slept with men.

I have two older brothers who have grown kids, and they're busy with their families. I've always had the responsibility for my parents, who have been quite strict with me, and quite critical over small things.

I work and they do not support me financially and have not helped me look for a spouse. I can see now that it is very unlikely that I will get married as there have been no prospects at all over the years.

The problem is, my parents' needs are significant (dementia, mobility, etc) and I am really tired of taking care of them. It has taken an emotional toll on me, and while I know I should be accepting Allah's decree, I have a lot of resentment in the fact that I have nothing to look forward to.

I won't have physical and emotional companionship, and that I alone must provide for myself financially (my parents have not set aside any money for me, and they told me they won't do that).

My non-Muslim friends think my parents should go into a retirement home, and I should start dating non-Muslim men, otherwise, I will be lonely for the rest of my life.

Truthfully, I have always yearned for a sexual relationship too (within marriage). How do I find hope in the future that looks so bleak?

I could be in my 60s before I am free of my parents, and even then I will be struggling alone. I should tell you that my parents do not want my brothers to take care of them, they think it is my duty. Please, don't tell me that my brothers should help because they won't.

Answer

In this counseling answer:

Please, make some positive changes in your life so that you can pursue your own health, happiness, and dreams as well.

Allah wants you to be a happy sister. Allah loves you and wants those good things for you that you want for yourself.

Take some courage in realizing that your brothers do have an Islamic responsibility to help with your parents.

As salamu alaikum sister,

Suppport AboutIslam.net

Sister, you have been taking care of your parents for most of your life. That is a great sacrifice. However, as a Muslim and as a human being, you do have rights to your own personal happiness as well. You have the right to be married and have children.

However, in your loving sacrifice, you have given many decades to your parents. At this point, there is no reason why you should not or could not get married although it will take some changes in lifestyle on your part. It will also take some courage in realizing that your brothers do have an Islamic responsibility to help your parents.

A Conflict

Sister, it is not haram to go against what your parents want concerning taking care of them. Unless your brothers have abused your parents or have treated them very badly, there is no Islamic reason that they cannot care for your parents. Just because your parents don’t want them to is not a valid reason.

In sha Allah, you will understand this so you can move forward.

I kindly suggest that you have a family meeting with your brothers and discuss this most important issue.

Please do stress the Islamic points that it is their responsibility as well.

Brothers Need to Assist

It does not matter if your parents do not want your brothers to take care of them. What does matter is that your brothers are responsible to your parents according to Islam. By not caring for your parents, your brothers are accountable to Allah. It is in their best interest to sit down with you and discuss taking care of your parents. I know you stated not to suggest this but it is the truth.

Medical Issues

The medical issues that are going on with your parents may require a full-time caretaker. In most situations where there are dementia and mobility problems, that means they need 24-hour care.

I am not sure how you have done it alone for so long especially while working, but it appears that they already do need more intensified care or they will in the very near future. Home care health aides usually work in shifts when they take care of elders or people with many medical problems. They work in shifts because the work is so intense that it usually takes two or three people to complete a 24-hour care shift.

There is a very real danger that now or in the near future the conditions of your parents may be so grave that an accident could happen while you were at work or while you are there. Additionally, the 24-hour care of two people who are possibly bedridden is very taxing on your health. It would be very sad if you got sick or something happened to you because you are not taking care of yourself.

While Allah does require us to care for our parents, He also requires us to care for our own health and wellbeing.

Other Alternatives

You did mention that someone had suggested a retirement home or possibly a nursing home but depending on circumstances if there are adult children involved, it is best to keep parents at home if possible. Being that your parents have three adult children who can take turns caring for them, there should be no reason why they cannot remain home.

I understand they do not want your brothers to care for them. However, it is not fair to you to be the sole caretaker. As mentioned above, professional caretakers are divided into shifts because of the intensity of the work and that is for one person!

Insha’Allah sister, you will come to the realization that at this point it does not matter whether your parents want your brothers to take care of them or not.

If your brothers are absolutely against caring for your parents, perhaps you can look into professional caregivers and let Allah swt deal with your brothers.

Self-Care- Your Rights

Sister, even if you did not desire time to find a spouse, you still need time for yourself. 

You need time for self-care, social outings, rest, Islamic activities, pursuing a hobby, time for enjoyment, and yes the time for meeting someone whom you can spend your life with Insha’Allah.

There is nothing wrong with any of these activities. In fact, by denying yourself these things in life, you are essentially creating an imbalance not only in regards to your physical, mental, and spiritual health, but you are denying yourself of life’s little enjoyments. It is your right to be happy, healthy, and balanced. And yes, it is your right to seek a spouse, a life-long partner.

Conclusion

Sister, at this point in your life, you have given so much time to your parents and that is a blessing. However, it also came with drawbacks. Please, take this opportunity to make some positive changes in your life so that you can pursue your own health, happiness, and dreams as well.

As a woman, a Muslim, and a human being, this is your right. In this life, we have choices. We are to “trust in Allah but tie our camel.” This means we trust in Allah but we try our best to resolve situations (in this case) that make us unhappy.

Allah wants you to be a happy sister. Allah loves you and wants those good things for you that you want for yourself.

Insha’Allah I encourage you to make the needed changes that will insha’Allah bring joy and happiness to your life.

We wish you the best.

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About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.