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Studying Abroad to Escape from a Controlling Mother

09 November, 2021
Q My mother has been so controlling since grade school from my daily conversations with friends to what I wear and where I should go. She has always made me feel worthless and so I have suffered with depression and social isolation for so long. I finally applied to a university abroad and just got accepted but am very scared of what she might think. Just need advice on how to handle this sort of situation.



As-Salaam ‘Aleikom,

I am sorry to hear about your situation, you sound very disturbed. Having a controlling mother is not easy. Parents are supposed to be give love, care, and support to their children. But instead of encouraging you, your mom has made you having doubt in yourself.

Your low self-esteem has caused you to feel depressed and isolated. It sounds like she is the overprotective kind of mother who wants her child to do everything accordingly to her. When parents do this, they do not realize that they are damaging their children which has a long-term negative impact on their mental health. It happens way too much in Asian and Middle-Eastern families, unfortunately.

She is your mother and I am sure she loves you even though you might not feel like it. Mothers have a high status in Islam, so you should always be nice and kind to them.

“And We have enjoined on man [to be good] to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and his weaning was over two years. Be thankful to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination.” (31:14)

I am not saying that you are not nice to her, but it is a big decision to move abroad, and you should have consulted with your mother first. Now that you have got the admission and are probably going to accept it, it is best you tell her that as soon as possible. Tell her how much you want to go to the university and what your goals are.

I think it will be good for you to get away from your mother for some time so that you can find yourself, be more independent, and take control of your own life. She may get a little bit upset when you tell her that you want to go abroad, especially when she is used to telling you where and where not to go in the past. This may come as a big shock to her. She may feel that she is losing control and it will stress her out. It is important that, in a respectful and good manner, you explain to her what you really want and tell her that you are an adult and can look after yourself.

She may not know what she has done to you. She may think that all she has been doing is to protect you. Unfortunately, sometimes those who are closest to us pose the biggest challenge because they know us so very well, and their behavior can hurt much.

Now that you are going to start a new journey in life and go abroad for higher studies, in sha’ Allah, it may be good for you to forgive your mother. Parents are human beings and they are not perfect. They are your family and you should show them patience.

Tell your mother directly yourself about your studies abroad. If you are too scared to tell her, then ask someone in your family like your siblings or other close relatives to tell her. Be firm in what you want and what you are going to do.

Do not let her criticism stop you from achieving education. You are not disrespectful if you do not listen to her, but you are disrespectful if you act or speak in a manner that is rude or harsh to her. After all, she was the one who carried you inside her for 9 months, went through all the sleepless nights for you, worried for you, cared for you, was there for you when you were helpless as a baby. She is your mother, and no one can replace her.

It is just time for you to find the right balance between your own life and the life as a family with your mother. Pray for her that Allah (swt) softens her behavior towards you and that Allah (swt) makes you stronger. Be more responsible and show your mother that you are grown up now.

I suggest that you make a plan on how and what you are going to do when you go abroad; where and whom you are going to live with etc. Discuss these with your mother. This way, she will see that you know what you are doing and it will calm her down, in sha’ Allah. Also, tell her that you will stay in touch and visit her as much as you can, so she doesn’t think that she has “lost” you.

Your depression and isolation can be recovered if you start taking control of your own life. For too long you have been in this vulnerable positon, and now you have the chance to do something about your situation, In sha’ Allah.

Go and study abroad, if that is really what you want to do. Making your own decisions will give you recovery and help you feel better about yourself and even relieve some of the stress/tension you have. Studying abroad will make you responsible; you will meet new people, make friends, be more outgoing, think for yourself, and most importantly you will start believing in yourself. Remember, you are unique and intelligent who has got admission at a university. Not everyone gets that. You should be proud of yourself.

You have to tell your mother about it sooner or later. Find the right time and do it.

May Allah (swt) make it easy for you and ease your tension, and make you successful in your studies.



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