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A Narcissistic Father: How Can I Help My Mom?

12 January, 2022
Q Assalamu aleikom. My dad verbally/emotionally/sometimes physically abuses my mom. They are always fighting.

Mom doesn’t seek divorce because of me and my little sister. But when they fight it is detrimental. I think I have anxiety and my mom too, she had an attack last week. Dad doesn’t understand.

Today, he hit me because I was taking mom’s side, and I hit him back in the arm. Allah might never forgive me. I didn’t have the intention but it just happened.

My hand just hit his arm. He cursed me. Later, I asked for forgiveness because Allah knows that it happened without me thinking about hitting. I am terrified of Allah’s punishment for today. I don’t know what’s happening to me.

I don’t know what to do and how to help my mom. She is unhappy in this marriage. My dad can be very nice but he is the worst when his mood changes. I think my mom needs a divorce but she is afraid that my dad will kill her one day because of this.

The impact of their fights have resulted in me not wanting to get married ever. I am 19 and have trust issues. I can’t think of myself getting married. Men, to me, are monsters who treat women badly. My dad doesn’t care if his actions bother me and my sister. He just does what he wants.

He has issues: always fighting over the same things. Men can’t talk to my mom. He needs her money and still calls it haram. He asks her to quit her job, then tells her to find another (but men will be anywhere she works). He always accuses my mom of cheating. He also ordered my maternal grandparents to never step foot in our house.

He is cruel. I don’t want to live with him. I don’t know what to do. Please advise.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

Speak honestly and open with your mother about your feelings, the dangers of exposing you and your Sister to this abuse and seeking help. 

Contact your grandparents and let them know what is going on so they can help you. 

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Seek out legal assistance and ensure you are all in a safe situation.

Forgive yourself for your act of defense.

Try to focus on a positive male role model.

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Seek out professional counseling.

Identify positive coping skills that work for you.


Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatuulahi wa barakatu my dear Sister.

It is my understanding that your Father is abusive towards your Mother, and he has struck you after you defended your mother.

You struck back in self-defense unintentionally. It is also my understanding that he is jealous, takes her money and has forbade the grandparents from visiting.

Abusive Home

My dear Sister, I will be completely honest with you. This household is abusive, and something needs to change as soon as possible. Please do not think that this is normal behavior and that you should accept it. 

A Narcissistic Father: How Can I Help My Mom? - About Islam

Your Mother believes that she is doing the best for the family by not seeking divorce. However, she doesn’t realize that she is hurting both of you more by staying with your Father.

Growing up in an Abusive Household Affects Children

While the life of a single mother is not easy, I can assure you that it is much happier and less stressful than living with an abusive individual. I strongly encourage you to talk with your Mother about this.

Firstly, children are at their best in a stable and safe environment, whether one parent or two, rather than in a chaotic and abusive environment with both parents.

Children growing up around abuse are more likely to tolerate abuse in the future towards themselves because they are raised to see it as normal. Staying in this situation is endangering your future. Let her know all of this.

Youth that have been around domestic abuse may exhibit some of the following impacts. You can share this list with your Mother to help her understand how dangerous your current living situation is. 

  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Lack of concentration and focus
  • Aggression and lashing out violently towards others
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of emotional intelligence as they age
  • Poorly developed communication and relationship skills
  • Lower confidence/self-esteem
  • More likely to tolerate abuse or become an abuser themselves
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health-related concerns

Talk to your Mother Openly and Involve your Grandparents

Please be honest with your Mother about how you feel, and how this impacts you and your little Sister.

Encourage her to seek out legal help. I also strongly advise you to have her contact your Grandparents, or you contact them. They can help all of you during this difficult time and help ensure your safety.  


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Please be aware, it is not ethical or permissible for him to keep your Grandparents away from seeing their daughter and grandkids. He is doing that on purpose to keep you isolated and less able to seek help. It is a form of control. Shed that control and seek their assistance. 

Striking Father

You mentioned you struck your Father in self-defense, and feel worried you won’t be forgiven for this.

Sister, you were defending your Mother then your own self from an abusive Father. You did not do anything wrong. You were standing your ground and being the strength your Mother needs. Allah (swt) knows your intentions and the situation. 

This is not the same thing as someone misbehaving and striking their family out of rage or abuse, you were defending yourself and your Mother. Feel free to make duaa regarding this, then move on. Do not let guilt stay on you about this. 

Trust

You mentioned not wanting to marry one day because you cannot trust, and men are monsters. Sister, I can relate to you in this perception. I myself have a traumatic history and once felt the same as you.

If you work towards letting go of this and learning to trust, inshallah this will help you in the future. 

In order to work on trust, first begin with getting your home situation safe. Once you are stable, try to focus on positive male role models you have seen such as your Grandfather or a favorite Sahaba. Read about their good character and treatment of others.

We should be mindful of the men we are around and always be aware of any potential red flags. Yet, we must also trust those who deserve it. Don’t make them pay for the mistakes of other people. 

Professional Counseling

I must advocate for the benefit professional counseling could provide for you, your Sister and your Mother.

All of you have endured trauma and are unhappy. This could help you unpack those emotions, work on healthy trust, improve communication skills and inshallah get all of you on the right path towards a healthy and stable life. 

If you are not comfortable doing this in person; please take comfort in knowing many online options exist for counseling.

You can find Islamic counseling as well if you want the therapy to encompass your faith. This will give you a more faith based and well-rounded therapeutic approach. 

Interactions with Dad

Your Father can also benefit from counseling. If he is willing to do this, it could help him see why his behavior was so toxic and how he can better himself as a man. This doesn’t necessarily mean he stays with your Mother.

Either way, it is better for him to also seek out treatment, and possibly your parents would find a greater peace. Your interactions with your Father will need to be based on personal safety and what you feel comfortable with.

Coping Skills

Lastly, take some time to find positive coping skills you can employ when you feel upset.

Such as, taking a walk outside, petting animals, prayer, cooking or drawing. Anything that allows you to release those negative emotions and cope with the situation. This will help you control your emotions.

Final Thoughts

Moving forward, here are your next steps summarized:

  • Speak honestly and open with your Mother about your feelings, the dangers of exposing you and your Sister to this abuse and seeking help. 
  • Contact your Grandparents and let them know what is going on so they can help you. 
  • Seek out legal assistance and ensure you are all in a safe situation
  • Forgive yourself for your act of defense
  • Try to focus on a positive male role model
  • Seek out professional counseling
  • Identify positive coping skills that work for you

I know this is a difficult situation to be in, but I assure you that you and your family can get out of this inshallah and find a more stable and happy life.

May Allah (swt) protect your family and guide you to a happier path,

Ameen. 

***

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 are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Monique Hassan
Monique Hassan graduated with honors in 2012 with her BSc in Psychology and a minor in Biology and is certified in Crisis Prevention and Intervention. She has years of professional as well as personal experience with trauma, relationship struggles, substance abuse, identifying coping skills, conflict resolution, community outreach, and overall mental health concerns. She is a professional writer specialized in Islamic Psychology and Behavioral Health. She is also a revert who took her shahada in 2015, Alhamdulillah. You can contact Sister Monique Hassan via her website "MoniqueHassan.com"