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Tired of Fighting with Mom

27 November, 2016
Q I am a 16 years old girl living in the US. My mother and I constantly fight. For example, she claims that when she yells at me, it’s because I don’t listen. But sometimes I just really don’t hear her. It’s annoying because at times she starts straight away screaming at me – her excuse for it is that it’s the only way she can get me to listen to her. We’ve always had screaming „matches” where I end up exploding on her because no matter who it is I can’t let anyone scream at me like a crazy person. I’m known to have an attitude in my family - but so does my mother. When I try to explain my reasoning for my behavior towards her (that I do it as a defense mechanism because she makes me feel useless), she says she feels the same. I have tried to change my behavior, but nothing will change my behavior if she doesn’t change hers. All in all, what I’m trying to say is that I’m over all of this. We fight at least twice every single day, and I shouldn’t have to be counting down the days until I leave for college to get away from this toxic relationship. What can I do to ameliorate the situation?

Answer

Answer: 

As-Salamu ’Alaykum sister,

First, I would like to commend you for coming forth and seeking help with this issue.  This shows you care, which is very important. Your relationship with your mother is one of the most important relationships you will have in your life. While now, at your age, you feel frustrated, angry, and hurt over her treatment of you, when you get older, you may, in sha’ Allah, look at the situation very differently.

As you stated, you are known in your family to have an attitude. Perhaps, my dear sister, you may need to re-evaluate what this attitude is and determine if it benefits you or harms you. This attitude that you speak of may affect not only family relationships, but social relationships as well, especially when you get older.

While teens (such as yourself) may get attitudes at this age, we must be careful that our attitudes do not become a lifelong reflection of who we are. This is to say that behaviors, thoughts, and feelings repeated consistently can become a habit. Reacting in a certain way can become habit forming. For example, if someone walks up to you and yells at you, you have the choice of how you respond. You can either listen to the person vent their feelings, or you can chose to act like them and “yell” back. If you chose the later, I implore you to ask yourself: how does this benefit you or the situation? Actually, it does not, it just accelerates the situation into a yelling match, as you indicated happens a few times a day. It is destructive and is not steps towards ameliorating the situation.

You stated that sometimes you truly don’t hear your mom, and this is something that your mom needs to understand as well. However, as you both are having daily arguing matches, it is hard for her right now to stop and really think about her own behavior or of possible reasons why you may not appear to be listening.

As we spoke about attitudes becoming lifelong ways of living/habits, could it be that your mom at your age was acting towards her mom (or others) as you are now?   Perhaps, this was an acceptable way for her to communicate, and she never got the chance to evaluate herself and change. Thus, you have found yourself in the cycle you see today.

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The way we communicate with others is very important. Not just with family, but with friends, acquaintances, and society at large. In the future, this mode of communication and your self-described attitude could cost you friends, jobs, and could even affect the relationships with a future husband and children!

Sister, I disagree with your statement “I have tried to change my behavior, but nothing will change my behavior if she doesn’t change hers”. If you do change your behavior and reactions, in time, she will change hers as well, in sha’ Allah. It will take time as, after all, she has been communicating like this much longer than you have. However, as you are younger and not as set in your ways, be the stronger person, take that “attitude” and turn it into something positive that others can look to as a role model.

If you do not respond with yelling and respond with respect, how much can she yell?  Eventually, the yelling will have to stop because there is nothing re-enforcing it (such as yelling back). It will be like someone yelling at a wall that responds only with kindness.   Sooner or later, in sha’ Allah, her yelling will diminish as there will be no re-enforcement.

My dear sister, you stated that both you and your mom admitted that the yelling makes you both feel useless and you both use it as a defense mechanism. That is sad. If we break this down, your mom feels like she is useless and must defend herself and so do you.

You are mother and daughter. There is no other most precious relationship. You will realize this when you hold your newborn baby girl for the first time, in sha’ Allah, when you get older.

I feel your pain, sister, as well as your frustration. In sha’ Allah, when things are calm at home, ask your mom if she would like to go out for lunch. Take her out and have a nice time together. Try not to bring up touchy subjects or start talking about how she yells too much. Instead, ask her how she is doing, maybe ask her about her mom (your grandmother) and what was she like when she was at your age? Was she close to her mom? What dreams did she have when she was at your age; what things she liked, and so on. Tell her some of your hopes and dreams.

If you take interest in your mom’s life and learn a little bit more about her life, maybe you will gain insight. By showing interest in her, she may be able to let her defenses down and the two of you, in sha’ Allah, can begin to build up your relationship on a more loving, positive level in which you both feel secure, safe, and respected.

Again sister, it may take you to initiate this new type of relationship, but it is so worth it.   Time is promised to no one and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Many at your age do not have a mother. Please, be the one to change this. You can, I have confidence in you that you can do it. You will be so happy you did now and in the future.

Lastly dear sister, I need to remind you of what you already know. As Muslims, we must respect our parents. The Qur’an states,

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.” (17:23-24)

and

“Allah’s Messenger, who amongst the people is most deserving of my good treatment? He said: Your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives according to the order (of nearness).” (Muslim)

So, we can see the importance of respecting our parents and not harming or disrespecting them in any way.  In fact, as you know, to do so is a sin. Therefore, I kindly suggest, sister, you make du’aa’ to Allah (swt) to grant ease and help you with your relationship with your mother and to repent for the wrong you did in disrespecting her. Allah (swt) is Most Merciful. Allah (swt) knows all, and is Most Forgiving. By drawing closer to Allah (swt) and asking for help with this issue, it will, in sha’ Allah, bring you much peace and many blessings in your life and your relationship with your mom. You both love each other very much. Please, put in the efforts to change things between you.

You are in our prayers, sister,. We wish you both the best.

Salam,

***

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About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.