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Family Counseling Q/A Session

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thanks for participating in the session.

Please find the 4 questions to which our counselor provided answers. If you do not find yours here, check out our upcoming session or submit it there again.

Question 1. Wayward Daughter

Asalamualaikum sister. Daughter 20: boyfriend. Outside influence from on Muslim friends etc. She has zero respect.  She does whatever she wants. Smokes pot, parties, stays gone 4 days of the weeks. Need advice on how to parent her. I don’t know how to get my daughter back? Help!!!!!

Salam aleikum, dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us. As I understand it, you have a daughter who is 20 years old, and she has a boyfriend. She’s outside of the influence of Muslim friends; she has no respect and does what she wants. She smokes, parties, stays gone for days of the week, etc.

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I’m really sorry to hear that you are experiencing this. It would be great to hear how your relationship is and was. At her age, this lifestyle is quite common among non-Muslim young people, and in a non-Muslim environment, peer pressure often affects Muslim youth too.

In this case, it would be good to know how your relationship is going. How attached are you to each other, and what about your communication? Have you been able to discuss things in the past?

During her teens, have you listened to her struggles and things that are going on in her life? If not, it would be good to find a way to get closer to her, to be able to get in touch with her feelings and thoughts without making her feel judged and blamed.

Most likely, she knows that this behavior is not what is expected of her as a young Muslima, and I guess that pointing out her faults and failed expectations by the family, society, religion, etc. will not help her change.

At the same time, it will be great if she knows she can count on you, whatever happens. As a mother, you are there for her to support her, to love her, to listen to her, and to help her whenever she needs it, without conditions. It would be great to create an atmosphere of unconditional support, love, and care.

What you can do is sit down with her and let her know that you love her, that you are worried for her, and that any time she needs help, you are there. It would be great to bond by spending time together without talking about what she does wrong. Invite her to do some activities together, just like friends, and avoid big talks during these times.

Give her time and maintain your openness despite her negative reactions or rejection. At first, she might feel like it’s a strange shift from you, but keep up with your attitude. In sha Allah, with time, she will open up and talk about her struggles, and once she feels closer to you, she will be more willing to listen to your advice.

It is also okay to understand that, until some point, it’s normal for a 20-year-old to start to be independent and start having her own life and her own choices. There is a normal need for independence at this age, which is fine. The other thing is getting involved in haram and forbidden actions as a Muslim. This situation may be partly about independence and autonomy. I think it’s okay to give her room and space enough to make her decisions, but what you can try to do is direct her towards a halal way of living. Toward finding Muslim friends instead of partying. Halal fun and activities instead of smoking and alcohol.

You can also talk to her about Allah and his infinite love, wisdom, compassion, and forgiveness, and that Allah is all-forgiving and there is always a place and space to come back to Him with repentance and start a new chapter.

If you think that the situation is too difficult to handle alone, you can involve a counselor or a third party whom she trusts. Maybe a family member, a school teacher, or someone she feels close and secure with too. May Allah make it easy for you.

Question 2. Balance duty to parents and family

Assalaam Alaikum,
Could you advise how one can cope when their mother insists on primarily prioritizing her own mother and overcrowding the house, when she has adult children with disabilities and health issues also at home. Her brothers have and excess of space and are able offer their mother a more comfortable and healthier environment but the daughter insists on the mother living with her. Despite practical difficulties. The mother does not like the daughters in any as they have been unkind in the past so reluctant to go there. Is it fair for the mother to focus mainly on looking after her own mother, to the detriment of others living in the house. It is not easy for anyone else to move out due to other difficulties.

Salam Alaikum, dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us.

As I understand it, your mother is primarily prioritizing her own mother, even despite the fact that she has adult children with disabilities and health issues at home. The brothers of your mother have enough space and would be able to offer their mother more comfortable living, but your mother insists she be with you despite these practical difficulties.

You also said that “the mother does not like the daughters because they have been unkind in the past.” She’s reluctant to go there.

Your question is, is it okay for the mother to focus mainly on looking after her own mother to the detriment of others living in the house?

Sister, Briefly, the answer is no; it’s not okay. Our parents and mothers deserve respect and care. But your mother has her children and her family, and they also have rights over her.

Finding the right balance between roles is a challenge. In the course of a lifetime, there can be situations, temporal ones or sometimes long-term ones, that challenge this balance and require adjustment. Illness, disabilities, unexpected events, etc. Sometimes, it’s difficult to navigate due to these unexpected and unusual circumstances. Although the goal would always be to find this balance and not neglect some of the responsibilities one has,.

With this being said, it would be great if your mother would realize that she needs to look at your point of view as well as your needs as a daughter and as a family and would try to find the best solution possible.

I’m not sure about their relationship or what makes your mother want to excessively care for her, despite the fact that her brother could also provide a space where she could be fine. And despite the fact that, as you stated, if I understand it well, she is reluctant to go with your mother. I don’t know what was going on, but if there are any issues between them as mother and daughter, it would be best if they could address them, talk them out, and settle their conflicts or any feelings that prevent your mother from having a healthy balance between her roles.

What you can do is talk to your mother, acknowledge and support her decision, praise her decision to want to take care of her own mother, and also kindly ask her to regard the needs of her family.

At the same time, try to see whether it’s a temporary decision or a long-term decision, because it depends on whether we are talking about two-three weeks, two-three months, or two-three years, right?

It would be best to sit down together and discuss, listening to each other, what each other wants would be the best of and the most optimal situation. You can involve a third party who can mediate between you and help manage the situation.

The most important thing is to consider all of the family members and find the most optimal way to live together and help each other without violating their rights. Having a realistic approach is helpful, as it can be expected that members of the family will have to give up something—frequently only temporarily—for the sake of the whole family.

Regarding your question, how can you cope with it? Try to see her point of view and what makes her want to make this decision; try to see and value her efforts. Probably she is not intentionally against you or her family. Sometimes we have to make decisions for the sake of someone that necessitate adjustments for the rest of the family and its dynamics, and that’s fine. Some forms of sacrifice are always expected within a family, and change is also part of our lives. Try to view this situation as temporary and approach it with patience and understanding. May Allah make it easy for you.

Question 3. Husband mistreating Wife

Dear Sister,

My question to you is on husband and wife relationship.

We have been happily married for nearly 20 years, and are blessed with two beautiful children, Alhamdullilah.  The issue here is that my husband has been emotionally abusing me for the past one year, on grounds of sending the children and I abroad for their higher studies, to live back with my parents, without any monetary support.  And that I should ask off my inheritance from my parents and live off that expense with my parents for the husband cannot afford this.

My husband has continually accused me of brainwashing the children into moving back abroad to my parents against his wishes, which is not true, as the children are in their teenage years and are mature enough to speak their mind.

Husband has also told me to leave (the house back to my parents abroad) one fine evening, justifying saying that it is no longer safe to remain with him as a family.  Husband has also lied to his parents saying that I am going abroad with my children for the sake of my parents being ill and I to take care of them. 

Husband has had financial hardship which as a wife I was unaware at the time as he never acted indifferently.  But the past month after I got back from my parents’ place after a summer holidays break with the children, the dynamics at home changed drastically.  The husband began taunting me, about zakat, that I am under ownership of this wealth, so I should pay for zakat myself, for I am not an earning member. He has also been shouting at the children and I a lot over trivial matters at home.  And this nature can only be seen within the four walls of the house.  Outside the house, the husband’s personality changes and no one would ever doubt or suspect him of such behavior towards his wife and kids.  Despite losing weight and looking upset, my in-laws never cared to ask me.  Yet my aunts and cousins instantly could see that I am upset. 

The husband had also previously cited references to divorce, and when Mahr is ‘his own’ wealth.  The definition of when the wife wants a divorce was also explained by the husband to me.  This has sent shivers down my spine.

I have discretely informed the husbands parents of his behavior towards me, and they seem to think that financial constraints are what has led to this behavior of my husband and requested me to be normal around the husband, after giving me cash in hand. And giving the husband cash too.  

I need them to realize that this isn’t a matter of money for me, that’s secondary.  The fact that I can’t trust my husband for taunting me, and emotionally abusing me, and telling me to be quiet and normal seems absolutely hard, harsh and impossible. How is it acceptable for the in-laws to feel that society is what they are worried to face in all eventuality.  I cannot live, trust nor love my husband.  Things are awkward between us.  It is solely for the love of my children that I am here.  Please advise on how to tackle this Islamically.  The in-laws also forewarned me that I should not disclose my ongoing ordeal to my parents and brothers.  I don’t know how to live on like this.  Please help.   

JazakAllahu Khairan kaseera.  

Salam Alaikum, dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us. As I understand it, you have a relationship-related issue with your husband. You have been married for nearly 20 years and have beautiful children, masha Allah. But your husband seems to have had some financial issues in the past year, and this has drastically changed his behavior, according to your letter.

He kind of forced you to leave back with your parents, and he does not offer any monetary support, but at the same time, he is “brainwashing” the children into thinking that it was you who wanted to send them away against their wishes, which is not true according to you. He also told you to leave, justifying that it was no longer safe to remain with him as a family.

I’m not sure, sister, what he meant here. It would be great to know what this means—that you are not safe anymore with him?

First of all, I’m sorry to hear of your struggle. May Allah make it easy for you. I’m not sure whether you have been able to talk openly and sincerely with your husband about his financial struggles. Probably this is the main reason behind his behavior—something that really bothers him and makes him feel insecure and troublesome. It would be great to know you have been able to support him, and if not, why not? What about your communication during the past 20 years? Had it always been like this, like you do not know what is going on with his finances, or is this the first thing you are unaware of regarding his affairs?

If you love your husband and would like to support him, you may need to talk about his struggles and assure him that, despite his struggles, you are there with him. At the same time, whatever struggle he faces, he has no right to treat you wrongly or unfairly. It’s not your fault what happened, so there are other ways to cope with stress without abusing you emotionally.

With this being said, an honest conversation would be the starting point, I think, between the two of you. I’m not sure, but if this test of financial instability has really shaken his own self-worth, that’s a kind of issue he has to deal with and look into with professional support. If this test makes him unsafe and uncertain about himself, he probably needs to get some kind of counseling. If you can go to couple counseling, that would be great too, because you can unpack this whole situation and see how you can support each other.

In marriage, it’s normal to have ups and downs and hard moments. It’s a kind of challenge for the whole family and a test for all of you. It can unite you while supporting each other if we try to see how to make the most of this situation together, not against each other.

You can encourage him to seek help from the counselor or from a financial coach, whatever it takes to restore his confidence and self-worth. You can work on your communication as a couple, so kindly seek counseling or marriage counseling.

Assure him that you would like to help him and see him better, and if there is anything you can help with, you are there for him. Let him know his behavior is hurting you and maybe the kids, and he has to find other ways to deal with distress, if needed, involving a professional, a mediator, or a counselor.

I hope this helps; may Allah make it easy for you.

Question 4. Addiction

Salaam! Please help!  I am a revert that is newly married (1.5 yrs) with a total of 3 years together. We used to be the best of friends. This is our second marriage. I have two kids and he has 4 kids. He struggles with addiction and did serve jail time last year as a result of it. I waited for him for 11 months. He was sober up until April 2024. Now, he leaves for days and weeks on end. Sleeps at his mom’s house (she is an enabler) or his brother’s house. All bc of his addiction. Abandons me and my kids for periods of time. Comes back here and there. Now, he just wants a sexual/physical relationship or a divorce. I fear he is unraveling bc of his addiction again. 5 years ago, he lost his whole family house job and custody of his kids bc of drugs. Now he has a fresh start at life and he’s sabotaging it. What do I do? I’m so new to this life and feel so alone and lost. To make it worse, he won’t speak to me.

Salam Alaikum, dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us.

As I understand it, you are a revert and married one and a half years ago. You have been together for three years and used to be the best of friends, and for both of you, this is your second marriage. Your husband’s first marriage ended because of his addiction, and he had to spend time in jail due to it. He had been sober for 11 months, but since April, he has started to fall back. This makes your marital life very hard right now. You feel that he is sabotaging a fresh start. He just comes back here and there, and he just wants a physical relationship or divorce. He sleeps at his mom’s house or at his brother’s house.

Sister, this is a very sad situation, and I’m really sorry because it must be really hard to live together with someone who struggles with addiction. I’m not sure what kind of addiction we are talking about, but it seems to me to be some kind of substance use disorder. This definitely necessitates professional help. So your support matters a lot, and your love and care for him for sure matters a lot. May Allah reward you for that.

At the same time, he has to make the choice to seek help. He has a free choice about whether to recover or not. He is an adult, and he’s responsible for his own choices.

I’m not saying that it’s easy; I’m sure that there are many underlying causes that make him fall back on his addiction. It would be great to identify and address these causes—traumas, past hurts, whatever happened to him—that make him vulnerable enough to fall back on his addictive behavior. It’s considered a disorder, so try to consider it an illness, like he’s ill and needs help.

You can support him, but you won’t be able to force him because he is the one who has to realize that he needs change. If he is willing to change and start a healing journey and has your own support, it must matter a lot for him. May Allah reward you for your patience, sister.

But it’s also okay to let him know that this is not the life you want to live because you also have the right to live without ill treatment. You deserve a sober husband who is taking care of his family, and he’s there for you both physically and emotionally, fulfilling your rights. It’s okay to tell him that you are not okay with this lifestyle, which might put your lives at risk as a family.

If he chooses to heal and you can support him on this journey, which may take time, that’s great.  It is also important not to regard his weakness—sabotaging a fresh start—as a personal attack against you or your plans. Probably he does not want to hurt you, and probably he feels bad about not being able to live up to his promise.

And if he chooses not, you can also decide whether you are able to stand this or not. Anything he does, which is haram, you do not need to support or endure in the long run. Considering him as an ill person who needs help and support with compassion and patience is great, but at the same time, he will need to face his problems and put efforts into avoiding past mistakes, healing past wounds, and gaining enough strength. May Allah help him to overcome this test and heal. Ameen

Friday, Jul. 12, 2024 | 09:00 - 10:00 GMT

Session is over.
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