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I’m 22, but My Parents Treat Me Like a Child

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Oct 02, 2018

Question

Salam. I would like to know whether it is normal for an individual to not have a supportive family.

I am twenty-two years old. I spent her years with a big family who is strict Arabs. They are not too strict in regards to career goals. They are strict with me; where I am going to, what time I will be at home, what is the purpose of me going out of the house. They worry about my safety. However, at the same time, they are not understanding. They are religious.

Whenever I would like to share some things that occurred with me for instance at school, they still think I am a child. This makes me worry about getting married.

I have a strong interest to get married, but I fear that they might prevent the marriage if they think the guy doesn't sound good when in reality he is. This has happened before when I tried to be in touch with others (obviously not speaking with men freely). Please help!

Counselor

Answer


I’m 22, but My Parents Treat Me Like a Child

In this counseling answer:

• The main reason for the occurrence of such circumstances is due to the huge cultural barrier between the parents and the children.

• They believe that simply because their parents’ parenting method worked, the same would be applicable in this time and era for their children.

• I suggest that you approach either of your parents and sincerely start the topic of feeling unheard by them.


Assalaamu Alaikum dear sister,

I understand how frustrating it must be to be treated as if your family did not trust you. It must be frustrating to live in such strict and tight guidelines.

This is a problem which is becoming more and more prevalent amongst Muslim teens and individuals in their early to mid-twenties. The main reason for the occurrence of such circumstances is due to the huge cultural barrier between the parents and the children. The lives that the parents have lived and the life that they observe their children live now is very different. And, instead of learning the ways of how to become better parents to struggling children, they want to resolve the situation by becoming strict and emotionless parents who consider that their lack of empathy and understanding will yield understanding and rightly guided children.

Unfortunately, they are unable to see the damage that their cold behavior causes. They are even blinded sometimes when children display rebellion and distance.

Rest assured that this is not happening to you alone. Unlike most children who do not agree to become better communicators, you can solve this issue by becoming a daughter who can communicate better than her parents.

The solution is that if parents are not interested in learning how we feel, we need to navigate our own feelings rationally so that we do not go down the road to mental illness and/or rebellion. We achieve what is the best for us.

Communicate effectively

Effective communication is what makes or breaks a relationship. Be that relationship between mother and father, husband and wife, mother and child or father and child. When communication skills are lacking, there is a general dispute which is always ongoing in families and relationships.

Dear sister, if your parents behave as such, they are doing so because they have probably seen more bad stories of girls misbehaving than they have seen good stories. As a result, as a natural human reaction, they want to protect you. However, they do not realize that you are mature enough to judge what is wrong and what is wrong. They are not able to see through your eyes.

In such circumstances, you need to see through their eyes and explain to them that you are not someone who they need to worry about. You need to tell your parents that they have raised you well and that everything that they have taught you is with you.

Dear sister, some parents believe that being cold and distant and rude will make children fear them and, hence, obey. This is often the misconception of parents from the eastern side of the world. They believe that simply because their parents’ parenting method worked, the same would be applicable in this time and era for their children.

However, a famous child psychologist said that every time and era is different and brings along its different set of challenges and temptations that the parents must become aware of to properly guide their children. Obviously, many people do not take parenting classes when they plan to be parents.


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In most cases, mothers are their daughter’s friends. However, in certain circumstances, mothers are rather emotionally distant, perhaps because they were raised like that, or perhaps because they have other things on their minds which render them emotionally unavailable. When such is the case, fathers can be good friends of their daughters.

Yes, it is true that you can’t possibly be too open with your father, but in certain circumstances, they are willing to understand and listen. Therefore, I suggest that you approach either of your parents and sincerely start the topic of feeling unheard by them.

It is possible that they are so caught up in raising you well that they do not realize that you are now a young adult who needs more than guidelines and strictness. You need their emotional attention and understanding of the issues and the feelings you have. Let them know that they mean a lot to you and that you are seeking their understanding and guidance regarding navigating your own life. Let them know that you are not 12, but rather 22. Let them know your dreams, your ideas, your worries, and your fears.

Converse with them what they like to hear first. Start with a general topic, and then continue talking. Conversations are important when building strong relationships. They do not always have to be heavy and loaded with discussions about feelings, etc. They can be relaxed conversations about food, diet, politics, entertainment, etc. This will make you feel more comfortable with your parents and them more comfortable with you.

Build trust

Sometimes, very overprotective parents do not trust the “big bad world”, and consider that if their child steps out, he/she will be misguided and mislead by the world. When such is the circumstance, you need to take it one step at a time.

For instance, if you want to go out with a few friends, let your parents know of each and every friend. Give them a little background information and make them feel like their daughter is spending time with trustworthy people.

To start off, even make them drop you off or pick you up so that they are in the loop. Some parents simply want to be part of every activity their child does. This is rather annoying to the child, but clearly, parents do not feel this way.

Dear sister, I think these feelings will be easier to understand when we will become parents. So, for now, we must learn to understand and let them understand us.

Explaining your intention in marriage

Dear sister, marriage is something that is predestined and the person you will marry is already written. In sha Allah, things will happen for the best in the best of way.

With regards to marriage, I suggest that you not think too much about it. I understand that you are at an age when marriage will be on your mind, but sometimes spending too much time thinking about something that we are not in direct control can do more harm than good.

If you have approached your friends about this topic and are thinking about pursuing marriage soon, you need to relax. When things are meant to be, they will happen.

First, you need to build a strong relationship with your parents as they will be the ones who you need to discuss matters with first, for example, a potential suitor. Take it one step at a time. Once your parents understand you, everything will become and fall into place.

Seeing the positives

Dear sister, sometimes parents are not willing to change. And in such circumstances, we cannot do much. However, when such are the circumstances, we must learn to protect our mental health and not become victims of depression, anger, or stress-related health issues.

You must pray, before approaching your parents and after approaching them that their minds readily accept what it is you are seeking. We cannot control anyone’s behavior, only Allah SWT is able to control their behavior. All we can only do is learn to make them understand us and try to make them learn that their behavior needs to change for raising emotionally healthy children.

Until circumstances change, I suggest that you not overthink them and focus on developing yourself as a person by investing time in hobbies (reading, sketching, writing, painting, biking, etc.) and being productive.

I pray that circumstances will change for the better for you sooner rather than later.

Salam,

***

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.

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About Madiha Sadaf

Madiha Sadaf in an undergraduate student at the University of Ottawa, enrolled in BSc. with Major in Biology and Psychology with Minor in Health Social Sciences.

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