Could you give me some advice with regard to coping with my mother? My situation is as follows: I am in my thirties, have never been married, and live with my parents.
My mother and I have always had a strained relationship. However, due to changes in the family condition, we are more dependent on each other than in earlier years.
I have a busy work life and need some time for myself as well. While my mother's needs (and complaints when things don't go her way) are overwhelming.
In earlier times, I would just go about my own business and ignore her; we sometimes didn’t even speak to each other for an extended period of time.
I don't want to give up my autonomy, but I would like to be more of a positive force in the household. Do you have any suggestions on how to navigate between these two aims? All the best.
In this counseling answer:
- The Qur’an tells us to feel grateful to our parents and do good to them.
- She is your mother, and it is natural that she would like to spend much time with you. You should respect her and be kind to her.She is your mother, and it is natural that she would like to spend much time with you. You should respect her and be kind to her.
- Make time and effort to renew the bond with your mother when you get home from work every day. Develop familiar rituals that you both will enjoy.
I can understand your problem and will try advising you the best I can.
First of all, you said you are in your thirties; you have never been married and live with your parents. You also have a work which, from what you are writing, apparently gives you some kind of independence. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think it is important for everyone to be independent in life to a certain extent.
However, you have to see that if only you and your mother live together in the house, she may feel lonely when you are not there. When you live under the same roof, it is natural to spend more time with each other.
It might be that since you work, your mother feels that you are not around as much as she wished you were. Thus, you will need to find a healthy balance between fulfilling your needs and your mum’s needs by effective time management.
Secondly, I am happy to hear that you want to do something about the problem and be a positive force in the household. Ignoring your mother, like you used to do previously, is not the way to go about things. She is your mother, and it is natural that she would like to spend much time with you. You should respect her and be kind to her.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good…” (Quran 4:36)
It is clear that parents give us innumerable favors. They protect us and provide us with food and clothing as well as love and care. The mother sacrifices her sleep and owns comfort to provide comfort for her children. The father works hard to provide for the physical, educational, and psychological (spiritual) needs of his children.
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It is common courtesy that if a person does you some favor you feel obliged to him. You feel like you have to give them something back. After Allah, our parents deserve our thanks and obedience the best for the favors they have done to us. That’s why the Qur’an tells us to feel grateful to our parents and do good to them.
Between parents, the mother has more rights over the father as she has given you birth and bore the burden during pregnancy. She has sacrificed her own comfort, looked after you, and worried about your well-being.
That’s why mothers deserve our good treatment more than the father. And that is why I would advise you to be kind to your mother. It may feel hard sometimes but try as best as you can. That’s where you get tested by Allah.
The key is to find the middle ground. Moderate levels of closeness are optimal. Very low or high levels of autonomy work less well. So neither too close nor overly distant works well in the long term.
Different families have different styles. Some families emphasize closeness while others focus more on individual needs and activities.
Apparently, your mother has different expectations from you, so you need to find a new balance. Your aim should be to find a cooperative rather than adversarial way to engage in this essential process.
Make time and effort to renew the bond with your mother when you get home from work every day. Develop familiar rituals that you both will enjoy. These can be as simple as cooking together, having tea together, watching TV together, etc.
This way you both will look forward to doing something together. Have a discussion to work out the zones of autonomy and zones of togetherness. I am sure she will better understand your point of view, and she is happy with you if you talk to her in a kind manner and make effort to spend time with her, in sha’ Allah.
May Allah help you and ease your problem,
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