I am a 23-year-old living in the US with my dad, step-mom, younger sister, and my father’s family. My parents divorced a few years ago. My mother is a Christian, but she is a bad person; she lies, manipulates, and deceives. She doesn’t like Islam either.
Last October, she wound up in the hospital because of a severe stroke. Before this incident, I have never been raised properly by her and she treated me very poorly. Consequently, we never had a good relationship. She often clashed with my dad’s family, and because of their constant arguing, they ended up getting a divorce.
Before my dad, she was married to a Christian man and has 2 children from him. Her daughter had been taking care of her when she was in a hospital. I used to like my half-sister, but I do not anymore. A few days ago, mom spoke to me over the phone about my younger sister & I to see her in a hotel & spend the whole day with her, including sleeping over. The date she would like us both to come is the 25th of this month, which is Christmas.
I didn’t understand why it had to be overnight, and I didn’t like it either. My half-sister then came in arguing with me about it and why I was so displeased. Whenever I said that I didn’t want to go and see mom, she got offended.
I later found out she wanted us to stay with our mother that night (me and my younger sister) because she had other plans that she wouldn’t disclose, and apparently that she wanted me and my younger sister to spend more time with our mother.
My half-sister is unmarried yet has a son currently in high school. She is well-known for going out clubbing, dating, drinking, and pretty much anything if she desires it. I feel repulsed because of her activities that are otherwise unlawful to us.
My question is that I would like to know what conflicts I can avoid in the future regarding my half-sister who is currently taking care of our mother? I dislike both her and my mother. I want to focus on my life and have no issues coming from them.
In this counseling answer:
Speak to your sister in a kind way. Listen to understand not to respond.
Give your mother a chance, not necessarily for her benefit but for the sake of Allah (SWT) and your own heart.
Start small with your family; don’t feel rushed to do overnight ventures or anything that will make you uncomfortable.
Speak with your father about this situation, after all, he once chose to marry her with the intention of spending his life with her.
Make Duaa, pray istikhara (asking for guidance) and think very carefully about your choices.
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatuulahi wa barakatu.
Thank you for taking the step to write in and ask for help. This is a difficult situation to be in that is pulling on your heartstrings.
Sister, it is my understanding your mother is a non-practicing Christian who suffered a severe stroke and as a result, needs her children to help take care of her. It is also my understanding your sister engages in activities that lack God-consciousness and you fear how this could impact you. It is natural to protect ourselves from hurtful and dangerous situations, but we must be mindful if our defensiveness is something we will regret one day.
As Muslims, respect and mercy for the family is a part of our faith. That doesn’t mean we are supposed to put ourselves into harm’s way or expose ourselves to haram activities that will drag us down, but it does mean we should be mindful and carefully think through our choices.
“…to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word” [Quran 17:23]
While your mother may not be Muslim and may not respect Islam, plenty of the sahaba had parents that refused Islam, and many reverts struggle with families that reject their faith. You mention your sister engages in dating and clubbing, please understand for most western families this is completely normal and not seen as sinful or dangerous.
We cannot push our own beliefs on others or judge them. That being said, if they are trying to get you to engage in clubbing or drinking alcohol, then this is a larger issue and they are trying to push their beliefs on you. If they attempt to do this, politely decline and explain it is against the teachings of the Bible to engage in such behavior. As they are Christian, this may give them pause to think.
Your sister is in a difficult position as she is the caretaker of your mother. We are accustomed to the parents being the caretakers and the ones that sacrifice for the sake of their children yet in situations like this, the children take on that role.
You mention your sister being very emotional, that is not surprising. Caretakers need breaks, they need time away or it will burn them out. I assume your sister being upset is not just about you visiting your mother, it is also about her asking her sister for help because she needs a break.
Next time you speak with her, take a deep breath and ask her how she is handling taking care of your mom. She will not expect concern from you over their welfare and it could make her feel better. You stated you used to like your sister, she is a good starting point to finding a healthy balance with your family.
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You asked how you can avoid conflict with them and mention that you do not like them. Whether we like our family or not has no bearing on how Allah (Most Revered, Most Honored) commanded us to treat them. In order to avoid conflict, not only with them but also with yourself internally, I advise you to maintain your safe distance as you feel out this situation but don’t close yourself off to them.
Your mother has gone through a potentially life-changing experience, give her a chance. I realize it is hurtful to you that she was not around as a loving mother while you grew up, but the only way you can talk this over with her is if you give her a chance.
Agree to give your mother some of your time, sleeping overnight is too much too soon but visiting for a couple hours while your sister goes out for lunch with friends or takes a walk can go a long way. It will not only show them you are willing to help, but it also shows them a better example of Islam.
Explain kindly that you will not say anything disrespectful about their life choices and in turn, you expect the same respect. If you want your Mother to stop seeing Islam in a bad light, you have the opportunity to show her Islamic character.
Action Plan Summary
- Speak to your sister in a kind way. Listen to understand not to respond.
- Give your mother a chance, not necessarily for her benefit but for the sake of Allah (SWT) and your own heart.
- Start small with your family; don’t feel rushed to do overnight ventures or anything that will make you uncomfortable.
- Speak with your father about this situation, after all, he once chose to marry her with the intention of spending his life with her.
- Make Duaa, pray istikhara (asking for guidance) and think very carefully about your choices.
Final Question to Ponder On
I need you to ask yourself a very important question and be completely honest with yourself. Do not rush this answer, feel it. If your mother had another stroke tomorrow and died, how would you feel? My father was also a disbeliever in a very similar situation. Just like you, I kept my distance as a means of defense. When he died, all I wished was that I could have one more day with him and now I have that in my heart. Subhanallah, I believe it is no coincidence this counseling question came to me.
No matter what lifestyle they live, this is your family. Please think over your choices carefully because once they are gone, you do not get a second chance.
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.