My father is an extremely arrogant man and has a very unbearably short temper. I live with my father, mother, and sister. He blames everything that goes wrong in the house on me and my 17-year-old sister even if it is a broken knob.
He’s been doing this to us since childhood. He has never once spoken to us with love or kindness, and not once do I remember him smiling at me. When he is with his friends, he cracks jokes and laughs, but he has never once sat with us and had talked like that.
He considers us worthless and burdensome as we are both still in no position to earn money because we are still studying. Although he provides us with food and shelter, he does it as if he is doing us some kind of favor.
He creates a very negative atmosphere and makes us feel anxious and guilty without any reason. When he leaves the house, the atmosphere feels light and positive. Even the people who are below him at work complain about his arrogance to my mother.
This behavior made me lose all respect I had for him. I sometimes wonder how my mother can live with such a man and now I have started to answer him back when he blames us for stupid things. I am highly guilt-ridden because Allah has commanded us to be kind to parents, but these days my patience has just run out and I am not able to control my mouth at times.
What should I do? I don't want to be unkind to him but it's hard to bear the pressure anymore. I can't ask for help from our mother because she does not understand, although she goes through the same. I can’t ask any relative for help because they will just make gossip out of it and I don't want to spoil our family name.
Please advise me.
In this counseling answer:
• Respond to him calmly while getting your point across as though stating a fact. Do not shout back as it will not solve the problem.
• Rather than being cold, distant or angry, talk to him calmly, fully aware of your emotions.
• It is essential that you realize your rights and create safe boundaries for yourself, and help your mother and sister create boundaries with your father if the need arises.
• Practice self-care: You can try out different activities and hobbies that will help you soothe and provide an emotional outlet for you.
Assalamu Alaikum sister,
I am sorry that you and your family are going through a difficult situation. In your post, you mention that your father has a bad temper and that he makes life difficult for you and your family, which includes your mother and sister.
You have mention that while he provides for you, he continuously makes you feel as though he is doing a huge favor for you. You said that you have started answering back to him when he blames you for things and this makes you feel guilty.
Sister, from your story, it is apparent that your father is at fault. Being the head of the family does not only mean providing for the physical needs of the dependents but also safety and emotional needs.
However, it is apparent that while he is taking care of the physical needs, your father is creating immense psychological pressure on your mother, sister, and yourself. It is possible that he is going through his own problems, stressors, or complications in life, but that does not in any way justify his behavior towards his family.
According to a Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad Sallalahu Alaihi Wassalam said,
“The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3895]
Regarding your query about answering back to your “arrogant” father when he puts blame on you for small things, I would suggest not to be rude with him. While I know it is natural to feel angry when you are continuously bearing the brunt of something you did not do, reacting back to your father in anger will do more harm than good for the family environment as well as for your own conscience.
Here are a few techniques that you can practice and use appropriately when you feel that your father is overreacting on something.
Don’t React – Respond
When you feel that your father is being overly critical or blaming you for something you did not do, do not react right away. Take your time and compose yourself. Instead of shouting back or retorting in a way a child would handle the situation like the adult that you are.
Respond to him calmly while getting your point across as though stating a fact. This will not only make your father stop and listen to you, but it will also cut off a further argument on that particular topic.
Learning to be assertive is vital when you are faced with people who regularly want to get into the blame game. As you have realized, staying quiet when you are not at fault will only give the other person more leverage over you and your emotions. Therefore, it is best to respond to your father so that the negativity can be reduced in your home as well as in your mind.
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However, when responding to your father, remember that the best way to communicate is by being “assertive”. Rather than being cold, distant or angry, talk to him calmly, fully aware of your emotions.
When you want to talk to him about something, make use of “I – statements”. For instance, you can say “I felt hurt when you said I broke the knob” “I would like you to be calmer when you are at home”. Using “I-statements” can be powerful in the sense that you take full responsibility for what you want, and not put any sort of blame on the other person.
Being assertive might open a window in your father’s mind about how his behavior is affecting you and your family adversely.
Being assertive will take practice, but once you master it, you will be able to not let your father’s behavior affect you anymore. Furthermore, you may notice a visible change in your father’s attitude as well.
Create Safe Boundaries
We often assume that the children are extensions of ourselves. This is especially true in South Asia where, culturally, parents believe that they have an unspoken right on their children, and them not obliging to every single command will make them into great sinners. In Islam, children do have rights! The right to be heard, safe from harm, and to have mental peace.
It is essential that you realize your rights and create safe boundaries for yourself, and help your mother and sister create boundaries with your father if the need arises.
Creating boundaries means realizing who you are as a person, and what things are acceptable to you, and what things are not acceptable to you. You can let people know verbally and non-verbally about what things are willing to put up with and vice versa.
Practice Self Care
It is important to understand that we cannot control anybody’s behavior, only our own. While the strategies explained above may help alter your father’s behavior, you can never guarantee the change. Therefore, to survive in such a situation it is essential that you do things that help you stay connected with yourself.
You can try out different activities and hobbies that will help you soothe and provide and emotional outlet for you. For instance: journaling, painting, walking/jogging, and of course connecting with Allah SWT.
This Life Is a Test
Sister, it is also important to realize that this life is a test from Allah SWT, and that He tests us all in different ways. He tests some of us in health, some in wealth, and some in our families. In the end, the only thing that matters is how you deal with the situation and how much you rely on Allah SWT for his guidance.
Seek Help and Guidance from Allah SWT
Allah SWT is the “All-Seer” and “All-Hearer”. He listens to everyone! He listens even to the smallest ant, under a huge rock on the darkest of nights. Therefore, put your trust in Allah SWT and ask him for help and guidance.
May He make all things easy for you. 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 be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.