Please, guide me. My parents (father about 87 years, mother about 72 years) are still fighting at this age. I stay separately from them with my wife and kids.
A few years ago, we had to separate from our parents as my wife and they could not get along. Presently, they stay about an hour drive from my house. My parents never got along much. I have seen them fighting since childhood. They were always against each other. I never tried to take sides though. I see both of them are wrong at times.
My father is very harsh and selfish, and my mother when angry she doesn't stop and goes on and says whatever she wants. We are four siblings, 2 brothers, and 2 sisters. I am the eldest.
My father never had good relations with his daughters. He feels that mummy has been teaching them against him, so they also don't interact with him much. Now he is sick with cancer at the age of 87. But they still fight.
My mother does fight, but she is the one who has been looking after him despite the fights. He was hospitalized for some time, then somedays he can’t walk much, so the mother does most of his work. We have a person staying with them in the daytime for help.
Even now they are fighting, my father feels that mummy puts something in the food to make him weak. He is always complaining about her. Even I feel that he seems to be thankless despite what my mother has been doing for him for so long. I see my mother has more love for her daughters. This is common in our community where mothers like their daughters more than their sons. I have no issues at all about this, but my wife resents it because it becomes partiality. That is the reason mothers don't readily accept sons’ wives as their own children.
I seriously do not know whom to believe. My father says that my mother is nice to him whenever I visit them, but otherwise, she is not. I do attend to them regularly Please advise me what can I do in such a situation.
Islam emphasizes that looking after the parents is the children's responsibility. But in such case, where I cannot bring him home and my sister being married would be difficult for her to look after him (although she isn't much interested in looking after him). What to do in such a case?
In this counseling answer:
• The fighting and arguing seem to be a normal routine for them and that is how they communicate.
• Sit down with your mom and your dad and ask them what they would like to see happen.
• Have a meeting with your siblings. While your siblings may not want to take care of your parents due to them arguing, they’re still obligated to pitch in and help.
As-Salamu Alaikum dear brother,
Thank you for writing to us. I’m sorry to hear about your parents and how they’ve been fighting all these years. Sadly, your dad now has cancer and they’re still fighting and arguing. Often times, when a husband and wife have been together for so many decades, and have had children, built a life together, loved and fought, this can be a never-ending cycle which continues till their return to Allah.
You stated that you see both of them as wrong at times. Your father is very harsh and selfish and your mother also gets angry and she goes on and on and says whatever she wants. Brother, this seems to be a pattern with your parents.
Often times, couples can love each other very deeply but yet still carry on as if there was no regard to respect between them. However, they still love each other. I know it’s kind of strange, but there are couples who do have marriages that are like that. The fighting and arguing seem to be a normal routine for them and that is how they communicate. While it most certainly is not conducive nor an ideal type of marriage, at 87 and 72 years old, they seem to have made it through a lot of things in this life.
Your question regarding whom to believe is rather irrelevant at this point as it appears from what you have written that they have been arguing all of their lives.
Regarding what your dad is saying about your mom, there’s probably a little truth and little white lies mixed together. However, if your mother did not love him, she wouldn’t be taking care of him. It appears that he’s very well taken care of and not neglected at all.
Brother, I understand it hurts you very much when your father says mean things about your mom and accuses her of trying to harm him.
Often times when one is sick with illnesses such as cancer, there can be medications that can cause feeling such as this, like someone is trying to hurt them.
Given your parents’ history of arguing all the time and being harsh with each other, it is not surprising that at this time in your father’s life he is saying these things.
Also, some elderly people develop dementia and this could also be contributing to what he is saying if, indeed, he has developed dementia at his age.
Your second concern is that you don’t know what to do in regards to taking care of your parents give their age, their arguing status as well as your father having cancer. You say that you want to fulfill your duties towards your parents and you’re wondering what is the best way of learning a lot of pleasure.
Brother, it seems to me that you have already been fulfilling your duties towards your parents. You love them very much, you try to ensure that they have everything that they need, you do visit them, you check up on them and you support both of them.
As you are probably concerned about your father’s advancing illness and your mother’s continued ability to continue to care for him, it is time to have a meeting with your siblings. You have a brother and two sisters as I understand. While your siblings may not want to take care of your parents due to them arguing, and they’ve given up, they’re still obligated to pitch in and help. Whether it be financial, taking turns going to stay with them if needed, or taking him into their homes, your siblings do need to help.
Everybody feels a certain way about something. In Islam, these are things we need to get over, especially when situations such as elderly and sick parents arise. This is not the time for your siblings to be nitpicking about how they feel regarding the situation. They need to help you come to a reasonable solution of how all four of you can make life easier for your parents despite how many of you may feel.
Check out this counseling video:
At this point, it seems that your parents are stable despite the fighting and despite your father’s cancer. So, you may all wish to take that into consideration and opt for home care.
Perhaps, your siblings know of a relative or friend who could use a job caring for your parents. I state this only because I understand that It’s not easy to just take off and leave as one could lose their job and then nobody would benefit.
I will kindly suggest that you sit down with your mom and your dad and ask them what they would like to see happen. Perhaps they would like to come live with you or one of your siblings or perhaps they want to stay in their home and feel that they are still independent even though your father is bedridden.
When our parents are elderly and lose their independence, it is very hard on them and sometimes the thing that keeps them going is having their own place, a home that they are familiar with. This may be the case with your parents, I don’t know.
However, after talking with your siblings, you need to approach your parents and find out what they would like to do regarding their care. Ideally, as stated above, you and your siblings can reach an agreement which is suitable for everyone.
Regarding your wife, brother, you stated that she would not want to take care of your parents. However, you haven’t discussed this with her I am guessing, so you won’t know unless you ask. She may surprise you. But again, it should be a decision between you and your siblings and your parents.
Sadly, in a few years, you and your siblings may not have this to worry about as our parents are not with us forever. Please, encourage them to use this time with your parents to avoid fighting make amends as well as to try to enjoy the time with them that is left.
We wish you the best, brother,
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 be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.