Today my father and mother are divorced. My father lives in a different country while I still live with my mother, along with my other younger brother. We have another apartment across the street where my older brother, youngest sister, eldest sister, and my grandma live. Since there's not enough space for us all. My second oldest sister also lives in that building across the street, with her husband and two kids, but in a different apartment.
Though I "live" with my mother in this new apartment we got, she is never around much. Allah has given her wealth, which she has claimed is for my siblings and I, however she doesn't really support us.
It's kind of always been like this, where my siblings and I don't even want to ask her for money or financial support, because when we do she ends up getting angry or resentful, or complains for instance. Basically, her money is for herself yet she keeps up this false pretense that it is all for us. I agree, her money is for herself, but I wish she would stop putting up this false pretense. Besides lack of financial support, she has also been an abusive parent, so it stings more when she claims like she cares, but doesn't treat us like she does.
I don't like living in this apartment with her or living under her roof, but I can't afford to live on my own, and am not married yet. My hope is to be married to a righteous man, and live my own life where I don't have to be so close to her. Because when I am near her this leaves me vulnerable to her abuse, such as being yelled at and threatened.
I have to go to therapy, because of all that I've been through (abusive mother, being bullied at school...) but am worried that I can't afford it. I also have books I need to buy for school but can't afford it and I don't want to ask my mother due to how she treats me. I'm trying to find a job but it's hard. Out of my mom and sisters, I'm the only one who wears hijab seriously, and out of my family, I'm the only one who strictly tries to eat halal food. All while financially struggling, so that has been hard for me.
Sometimes I have no money to buy something to eat, so I end up being hungry, and don't want to eat non-halal food that is offered to me. No one really understands or fully respects me wearing hijab, so it's a battle to have my privacy and protect my modesty.
Since my mother has been separated from my father, she has supposedly married a new man (I don't even know if her marriage is valid because I don't know if she had a valid witness present). She got married without telling my siblings and I much about it, and kind of just suddenly did it, so my siblings and I don't really respect the marriage. She got married as a third wife to this man, who we also don't trust.
Before this "marriage",he talked to my mom on the phone and spent time with her without us really knowing for years my mom claims. While he was married to the other two wives, so isn't that cheating? To me this is evidence of the character of this man being bad. I also don't know if he is involved in doing voodoo or black magic.
Unfortunately in my culture, people do voodoo, and though I fully advocate against it today, I have memories of when my parents used to force me to rub on these "medicines" which I don't know if it was voodoo "medicine" which is haram or what it was. I don't really understand this aspect of the culture.
When my mom puts on these "medicines", she claims that it's medicine which is allowed in Islam, such as where they put writings of the Qur'an in water with perfume or something like that. I really don't know, but I do know that in this culture, people do voodoo, and my mother doesn't always tell the whole truth. For reasons like this, among other things, I am most of the time at odds with my mother. I don't agree with her way of life.
Back to hijab, she doesn't fully respect me wearing it. When I started wearing it she said some very harsh words to me. I wasn't able to answer my phone because I was cleaning the bathroom but she just walked in with her husband. I had to run in the bathroom because I did not have on my hijab or modest clothing. I don't see him as my "step father" or anything for that matter. I believe this man has bad intentions and is using my mother. I detest him and would never want to be seen without hijab like that, but my mother doesn't care.
In this counseling answer:
- If you feel the abuse is still going on, do not hesitate to seek help from a child helpline.
- If we understand the possible reason behind the neglect, we can better find solutions to the problem.
- Don’t rush into marriage. You need to get well emotionally as well as mentally first in order to enter a marriage.
- Therefore, the best solution is if you seek therapy. Individual or family therapy.
- Seek help from your local mosque, maybe they can help you as well. They may have counselors or other services for Muslims who are in a similar situation.
- Sadly, but you are one of the many students who need to work besides their studies to live on. You are not alone sister. Therefore, please network with such young people how they live on. Where they work. See what opportunities might be there for you.
- You will need to bring happiness in your life. Do things that you enjoy. Start a new hobby.
- You need goals and plans in your life.
- Mashallah, it is amazing that you wear the hijab and you stand for it. This is a sign you do care about your connection with Allah. Please continue wearing your hijab, even if your mom or anyone dislikes it.
- Give your step-father a chance; he might be the person who helps you change your mom’s attitude towards you.
- Distance is a good idea, yet you should not cut ties with your mother completely. Despite all the bad you feel you have received from her, she gave life to you. She has raised you, fed you.
Assalamu Aleikom sister,
I am really sorry to read that you feel your parents –especially your mother – neglects you. You suffer from the lack of financial as well as emotional support. This is a really tough situation, one that can have long-lasting effects if you do not heal yourself.
I am glad you reached us for help, and despite the limited information, inshallah my answer will release some of your stresses.
Why a parent neglect child
People often cannot comprehend how parents, especially mothers can neglect their child. You even mentioned that they were abusive to you. You did not elaborate on what exactly happened, but if you feel the abuse is still going on, do not hesitate to seek help from a child helpline.
“Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges. The ruler who has authority over people, is a guardian and is responsible for them; a man is a guardian of his family and is responsible for them; a woman is a guardian of her husband’s house and children and is responsible for them; a slave is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it; so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your charges.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Therefore children are amanah to the parents, so they MUST take care of their needs. Despite that parents are sinful for the damage they have done to their children, psychology offers certain reasons to parents’ neglect. If we understand the possible reason behind the neglect, we can better find solutions to the problem.
“Most parents try to be the best parents they can be and don’t mean to neglect their child’s emotions.
Adults who neglect their children may be experiencing any of the following:
- Substance misuse
- Mental health disorders
- Anger or resentment toward their child
- A personal lack of emotional fulfillment
- A history of neglect from their parents
- A lack of healthy parenting skills
Issues that lead to neglect are often complex. Therefore, the best solution is if you seek therapy. Individual or family therapy.
However, you say you are already enrolled in therapy. This makes me wonder how effective you find your therapy since you have expressed your trauma to us as well. I am also wondering what your therapist says about your options to do right now, how she helps you go through your traumas as she knows your situation better than me.
If you feel you do not find the therapy effective enough, seek help from another therapist.
Sister, you mentioned that soon you do not have a stable income. I would talk to the therapist, explain the situation, and ask her whether she knows any ways that you could continue the therapy based on funds.
Seek help from your local mosque, maybe they can help you as well. They may have counselors or other services for Muslims who are in a similar situation.
I am not an Islamic scholar, so you might want to ask our Ask the Scholar section about who should help you financially. However, I do know that parents, and particularly your father is responsible financially for your and your siblings’ well-being.
You mentioned that your parents divorced and your dad lives abroad. This does not mean he can escape from the responsibility of supporting you all with money.
You may want to talk to a trusted family member about what’s going on in your family financially. Try talking to someone who is respected by your mother or father. He or she might be able to talk to your parents, or at least take care of you. Talk to your siblings.
You said some of them are already married. Maybe they could take care of you instead of your mom. Maybe you could even live with them until you finish your studies or get married.
Even if your parents’ neglect is so sad, you need to think of your situation from a different angle because you cannot influence other people’s thoughts and behavior – only yours.
Sadly, but you are one of the many students who need to work besides their studies to live on. You are not alone sister. Therefore, please network with such young people how they live on. Where they work. See what opportunities might be there for you.
Try finding new things in this dark situation. There are. For example, you do not have to pay for the rent and the food. I know, this is not enough from the parents. But this is still a huge help.
Let this phrase of your life strengthen you. Look for the opportunities, what you can do, and do not dwell much on what is wrong.
Again, I am not saying to not try doing your best to wake your parents up: what they are doing is wrong. However, you currently cannot depend on them, so instead of sinking in hopelessness, you need to act. This mindset will give you the power inshallah: If something does not work this way, then it would that way.
Who knows, this situation you are in will strengthen you and teach you skills you will later on be grateful for. Maybe it will open doors you have never imagined.
Check out this counseling video:
What do you need?
Sister, please sit down with yourself and think of what you need right now to feel better.
Definitely, you will have someone who supports you, emotionally, financially. Maybe your sibling, or some relative, or the mosque, or the therapy. List all your possible options.
You will need to bring happiness in your life. Do things that you enjoy. Start a new hobby.
Be with your friend that brings a smile to your face.
Do exercise as it boosts your happiness hormones.
Do anything outside the house that makes you happy so that you can feel strong when you go home. (But inshallah I hope you will soon find another place to stay.)
You need goals and plans in your life.
You did not mention whether you currently study. Regardless, goals in life are essential. So create them. What do you want to be? How do you imagine yourself in 5 years? What do you think what do you need to achieve this?
Here are some tips how you can successfully create plans and achieve your goals.
You need Allah.
This is obviously first and more common.
“Whoever comes to me walking, I will come to him running.” Saheeh Muslim
Strengthen the khusu in your prayers, do worship that you enjoy. Take the time to connect with Allah. If that connection is fine, you will be just fine no matter your circumstances.
Mashallah, it is amazing that you wear the hijab and you stand for it. This is a sign you do care about your connection with Allah. Please continue wearing your hijab, even if your mom or anyone dislikes it.
Allah says in the Quran,
If they strive to make you associate with Me that for which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but still accompany in the world with good conduct. 31:15
You mentioned marriage as a way out of your sad situation.
Sister, you need to get well emotionally as well as mentally first in order to enter a marriage. You need to overcome your traumas, your depression so that you:
1, have a clear mind of who you really are and whom you want to live the rest of your life with.
2, to be able to take the responsibility a marriage requires from a wife, give to your spouse and do not overwhelm him with expectations that are not healthy in a marriage but only come from your feelings of insecurity your abusive household has caused you.
Marriage is about giving and taking, scarifying, and accommodating to another person. You can not fulfill these until you are healed from your abusive experience.
Here are some very good article to read about how child abuse or witnessing abuse at home as a child affects later relationships.
Please continue with the healing process so that you can get married as soon as possible and live in a healthy, bonding marriage, biznillah.
I am a child of divorced parents as well, my father remarried. Therefore I can feel your pain to see someone else in your house next to your parent. Many children have a hard time accepting this reality, and since you do not have a good relationship with your mother….your feelings towards your stepfather are completely understandable.
How does he deal with you? Does he try befriending you? If so, give him a chance; he might be the person who helps you change your mom’s attitude towards you.
However, I completely understand your feelings and that you do not want to take your hijab off in front of him. If you feel so, do not do it. No one can force you; you are an adult strong lady.
I cannot answer for your question what your mother and him did in the past was considered cheating and haram or not, again write to our Ask the Scholar section, if you wish. However now he is her husband legally and he has also certain rights over your mother – as you do have even more rights. So eventually you will need to accept that he is your step father.
Again, therapy can help you through this. Or you may want to seek support from other Muslims who also have step fathers. Fellows can be a great source of support.
You cannot cut ties with mother
In the same aya I quoted above, Allah mentions: “…but still accompany in the world with good conduct.” 31:15
Yes, I encourage you to minimalize your interaction with your mother. Find a place to stay safe. Maybe this moves something in her heart when she will not see you every day. Distance is a good idea, yet you should not cut ties with your mother completely. Despite all the bad you feel you have received from her, she gave life to you. She has raised you, fed you.
Please sister, stay close to Allah. You are a wonderful and strong woman. By such tests, Allah has been preparing you for something great. Please do not sink into depression, but forge force from this situation. Think of those great people who have been through several hardships and came out heroes. You will be just like them, sister, biznillah.
I hope you find my answer beneficial.
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 are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.