I am a practicing Muslimah. I greatly don't want to do anything that displeases my creator, but I just don't get along with my mother, even after trying. She is manipulative, controlling and hard to please.
I have recently graduated so I am freer nowadays, and I have to spend the entire day at home. I do all the house chores and help her as much as I can.
We are facing financial challenges, so I even help her with making clothes, which we do at home. Most of the times, she puts me under immense pressure as she requires rest.
I get so tired sometimes that my backache disturbs my sleep, and I obviously don't ever get a break. My brothers never help as my mother thinks it’s my part of the job.
Injustice prevails to the extent where I can't even get a single piece of clothing, even on Eid, whereas my brothers and married sisters get a bunch.
I am given old clothes even for formal use. If I ever have an important occasion, I am supposed to borrow my sister's clothes. My mother gets upset even if I try to help her and lashes out on me in a situation where I would be too tired to even talk.
I give her all my savings where my brothers don't even bother. Things were pretty much the same even during childhood when she would give my siblings what she would refuse to give me.
I’m always asked to be quiet as that’s what is expected of “good” daughters. Even more so, my mother never paid any heed to my claim of sexual abuse by a close family member during my childhood because she considered it a lie, though I never lie about anything.
Perhaps she considered her son more truthful than her daughter. I don’t know what I should do. I don't want to be disrespectful towards her but, I can't tolerate it for much longer and I am mentally exhausted.
I was a brilliant student, but now I can't recall simple stuff. More so, I am single and there are no chances of me marrying soon as we don't have enough budget to afford another marriage anytime soon.
Aren't I allowed to have basic necessities? Or can't I even ask for them? Is one piece of clothing a year a big deal or too much to ask? Does it make me a bad daughter to ask for that much?
I desperately need advice. I pray and I ask God repeatedly to guide me and give me mental peace. I can't make duaa’ long enough to pour my heart out except if I lock myself in a room.
In this counseling answer:
• You state you can’t get along with my mother. Seek out family counseling to have a mediator.
• You need to have enough time for yourself as well.
• Better your communication with your mother by using I-statements and practicing active listening.
• Make the expectation clear about what you can feasibly give for both and lovingly ask them to respect these boundaries.
• You may consider moving out.
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatuulahi wa barakatu sister,
Thank you for writing in with this exhausting and difficult situation. It is my understanding you feel as though your mother treats you very differently from your siblings, due to being single and female.
Part of this treatment includes working to exhaustion while feeling underappreciated to the extent where necessities are not being provided.
Furthermore, this is straining the relationship between you and your mother and it is obvious that you love her and want to do the best you can as her Muslim daughter, in shaa’ Allah.
To begin, sister, we need to examine the concept of being dutiful to our parents. We should extend good treatment and dutifulness to our parents and we should show them gratitude and love and ensure their needs are met. Absolutely, as Muslims, we are commanded to do this.
“And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring..” [Quran 46:15]
From one generation to the next, this love and dutifulness extend, but what you are describing is not dutifulness. This is not based on Islamic principles, rather unjust cultural/family dynamics.
You mentioned a history of trauma including sexual abuse and your mother believing her son over you. It is my understanding you are indicating your brother abused you, or at least a close family member.
Your mother may be denying this because she can’t handle the pain of believing family assaulted her daughter. Additionally, your relationship with your mother is very strained. Either way, you both deserve closure on this.
If you feel comfortable talking to her about this alone then you can try, but I suggest seeking out family counseling to have a mediator. This can be online with a counselor or in person.
If you don’t feel that your mother would be open to this, or you don’t like this idea, seek out the support of a trusted friend or family member that can be an unbiased support person during that conversation.
If you are forced to interact with the person that abused you, sister, please understand you have a right to stop this and set times when they will not be present.
Communication Tips for your Mother
I am sorry to hear some of your interactions with your mom are painful, in shaa’ Allah, this can improve. Your mother may not even realize how you feel. Whether you consider doing family therapy or not, it is important to work on healthy communication with your mother.
Here are some practical tips:
- I-statements: You want to avoid making your mother feel defensive or confronted. Instead of saying “you hurt my feelings when we drove home” use “I felt unappreciated and hurt during the taxi ride”. This avoids pointing the blame but still expresses the same situation and emotions.
- Practice active listening: Don’t listen with the only intention being to get your side across with your mother, listen with the intent to understand her feelings and respond in a way that shows her you care.
- Speak concisely: Make clear what you want and how you plan to work on it. Do this in a loving way, but ensure it is clear and understood.
Boundaries and Expectations
It is great that you help with tasks, but you need to have enough time for yourself as well. You mentioned graduating and wanting to get into the workforce, which requires hard work and time. Not just the time to be at the job, but downtime to recover and be prepared for another day.
I suggest coming up with a timeline for your mother that lets her know when you need personal time. Not just the hours you will be out of the home for work, but the recovery time. This makes it clear that you are serious about your own success and will still give time to the family.
You said that your clothing needs are not being met. You can consider offering that you will provide your own clothing needs, however, you will not be giving away as much of your savings. Your siblings who were not paying anything can share in paying that towards the family.
This makes for a more family-oriented and fair exchange between everyone helping. It would be the role of your parents to enforce this with your siblings, but you can also speak with your siblings if you feel they will agree to it without your parents saying so.
In terms of both your time and money, make the expectation clear about what you can feasibly give for both and lovingly ask them to respect these boundaries. Remind them that your growth and success would not just benefit yourself, it would benefit the family and honor your mother’s work in raising you.
Check out this counseling video:
Sister, I need to mention this option. If you feel that you cannot resolve these conflicts in the home or simply want to move out, you can work on building your savings and looking for a place to move.
You can look for other sisters trying to do the same thing if that would be easier for you. Nothing says you must live with your parents until marriage. That is a cultural idea, so it is your choice to make.
You are still young and have many years in front of you in shaa’ Allah. Here is a summary of the steps moving forward towards your success and happiness.
- Consider personal as well as family counseling. As another option, consider a family member or close friend that can act as a mediator during discussions.
- Practice healthy communication skills with your mother and help her to try the same
- Set clear boundaries and expectations regarding your time and money
- Consider living independently if this would be a happier environment for you
It is great to hear that you are continuously praying and making duaa during these difficult moments. Additionally, it sounds as though you are a dutiful daughter who is mindful of her family obligations as a Muslim woman. That is a blessing, sister. Please continue to seek out help and patience from Allah (most honored, most revered).
May Allah (SWT) help you and your family, ameen.
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