How Can I Deal with My Family’s Problems?

01 October, 2019
Q Salam Aleikom.

I've never seen my mom happy and this makes me sad. We've always had financial problems and when my dad couldn't support the family anymore. My mom took up two very hectic jobs to support the family. In return, she didn't get anything and it's partly my fault too.

My brother who will soon turn 18 is horrible. He shouts, hits and breaks stuff at the most trivial things. This leads to a huge argument between him and my mother which eventually leads to him abusing my mom and everyone else and shouting a lot. If we get our dad’s help, then he beats up my brother really badly. We can’t see this, so we keep him out of these fights in fear that his anger might get out of control.

Both my sisters are very nice, but they sometimes have their moments other than that they are great. Then there's me. I'm stubborn, rude, egotistical and very anti-social. I am suffering from depression and anxiety which no one knows except my sister. This sometimes makes me a horrible person and I get very rude with everyone.

My mom prays a lot and is always telling us to pray for all our problems will go, but they never do. I'm very worried about my mom because my mom had a horrible childhood. She had a horrible stepmom and seeing my mom this depressed really makes me want to cry.

What should I do? What should she do? I really need help!

Answer


In this counseling answer:

• Try to talk to your family about praying together and ask everyone to read the Quran afterward. You’ll find most people are calm and more willing to talk right after praying. Use that time to bring more of Allah’s (swt) word into your family dynamics.

• If your brother refuses to stop abusing your mother, they need to consider making him leave home until he can learn to act like a man instead of an ungrateful boy.

• To battle your depression and anxiety, you must learn to love yourself and grow your confidence.

• Look into family counseling.


Assalamu alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa barakatu Sister,

Thank you for having the courage to write in and share your feelings. I am sorry to hear of the struggles you and your family are experiencing. May Allah (the most glorified, most revered) bring peace and mercy into your family, ameen.

It is my understanding that you are worried about your mother’s depression. Your father and brother are abusive to the extent you conceal your brother’s transgressions because of how harshly your father retaliates. It is also my understanding you struggle with feelings of depression and anxiety.

How Can I Deal with My Family’s Problems? - About Islam

It concerns me you call yourself a “horrible person”. You describe yourself as stubborn, rude, egotistical and anti-social as well as depressed and anxious. Yet, I see you as strong enough to reach out for help. You are the one pushing to find a solution instead of pretending everything is okay.

Alhamdulillah, you have already shown more strength and heart than you give yourself credit for. May Allah (Swt) reward you.

Praying & Du’aa’

You mention your mother often prays. Alhamdulillah, despite the current struggles your mother is maintaining her faith. I encourage you to keep praying and please do not doubt why your duaa is not answered in a way you are able to understand just yet.

Our duaas are answered in one of three ways; yes, yes but not yet, no I have something better planned for you. We may not comprehend the larger picture at play, but we know everything has a purpose and Allah (swt) is Al-Khabeer (the All-Aware).

Try to talk to your family about praying together and ask everyone to read the Quran afterward. You’ll find most people are calm and more willing to talk right after praying. Use that time to bring more of Allah’s (swt) word into your family dynamics.

Abuse

Your father is likely struggling with the fact that he cannot provide. For many men, this creates a feeling of inadequacy and they respond with negative emotions and actions. Your father’s aggressive behavior is teaching that style of conflict resolution to your brother.

What does his father do when he is upset with him? He beats him up. So, the lesson taught is when you are upset, let anger control you and start lashing out.

“The strong man is not one who is good at wrestling, but the strong man is one who controls himself in a fit of rage.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

Instead of hiding the abuse and pretending it is okay, sit down and talk openly with your mother. Explain to her this is not only against Islamic teachings; it is tearing your family apart. Ask her to implement accountability with your brother that does not include aggression.

One idea is that your brother needs to take on ALL of the work your mother does in the house from now on to improve his respect. Anger management classes would be an excellent resource for your brother and your father to look into, which can be done online or in person.


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If your brother refuses to stop abusing your mother, they need to consider making him leave home until he can learn to act like a man instead of an ungrateful boy.

If he will be receptive, speak to your father and ask him to please intercede in a merciful way. Please, be mindful to say this in a highly respectful manner. ASK your father and do not TELL your father. If you fear how he will react, don’t push it.

Depression & Anxiety

To battle your depression and anxiety, you must learn to love yourself and grow your confidence. As you grow in your own spiritual and emotional well-being, this can impact your family by setting a more positive example.

Improve your relationship with Allah (Swt). Read the Quran, ponder over Islamic lessons and make frequent duaa.

Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured” [Quran 13:28]

Positive self-affirmations. Say aloud “I am strong, I am caring, I am a good woman, Allah loves me” and say it with conviction. Repeat it until you believe it, every day.

Combat irrational thoughts. You mentioned this was your fault, which is not logical. You did not cause the abuse or financial difficulties. When you have those irrational and hurtful thoughts, talk them down with rational thoughts that actually make sense such as “It is not my fault mom works 2 jobs. I should not blame myself for something I did not cause”.

Get to know yourself better. Come up with 5 positive words that describe you. Post this list somewhere you will see frequently. Really think about whom you are, what you are passionate about and skilled in. For example, you might say you are forgiving if you realize you often forgive the people around you.

Increase gratitude. Consciously think about 2 things you are grateful for, say Alhamdulillah and really think about them. Try to do this daily. Learn to appreciate your blessings and your trials.

“…If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]…” [Quran 14:7]

Identify coping skills. Someone that goes for a bike ride whenever they feel anxious has a healthy coping skill. Identify 3 positive coping skills you can use whenever you feel anxious or depressed. Some ideas could be exercise, drawing, Quran recitation, deep breathing or petting a cat.

Therapy

I strongly suggest looking into family counseling. You could do this in person or online.

Your parents should also consider marriage counseling. Individualized therapy can help you better identify your triggers, coping skills and work through your concerns.

Please understand witnessing abuse, even if not directed at you, can be traumatic.

Bear in mind, you cannot force your family to do therapy nor is it your responsibility to fix the house. You are not the parent in this situation.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, keep making duaa and attempt to get your family more involved with praying and reading Quran together. Speak respectfully to your parents about your feelings. Work on your depression and anxiety by implementing coping skills, gratitude, positive self-talks, getting to know yourself, therapy and strengthening your relationship with Allah (swt).

If your family refuses to change the family dynamics, then you must ask yourself if this is the environment you want to be in. If you reach a place emotionally where you simply cannot do this anymore, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help locally.

May Allah (swt) fill your heart with his light and love and guide your family to a happier lifestyle,

Ameen.

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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.

Read more:

How to Deal with My Abusive Brother

How to Deal with a Broken Family and Stress- Part 2

How Should Muslims Settle Their Family Problems in the West?

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"