Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: Assalam aleykum,
My mother yells at everyone around her. Everyone just agrees with what she says to avoid conflicts. She treats all of my siblings badly, except for my youngest who is allowed to insult us. I fear being a mum if it means hurting my children the way my mother has hurt us. What do I do?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray this finds you well. May Allah soothe your heart, and make things easier for you.
I cannot imagine how painful it must be to be tested with a mother like yours.
Please seek out a culturally-sensitive counsellor. You need to process your feelings, learn better coping skills, and learn healthier ways to interact with your mother. You cannot change your mother’s behaviour, but you can change your own. Learning mindfulness, meditation, and other relaxation activities will help you manage your feelings of anxiety and stress when you are at home with her.
I urge you to do complete this life-changing course: Excellence with Parents: How to Fulfill the Rights of Your Parents.
When you have been hurt for so long, it’s tempting to completely distance yourself from your abusive parent. However, this is not the way of our deen. Empower yourself with life-giving knowledge. Know what Allah calls you to, in this difficult situation, and do your utmost to rise to the occasion.
Please do your best to waking up before the entry of Fajr and perform the Prayer of Need. Beg Allah to soften your mother’s heart. When speaking to creation gets you nowhere, take it as a reminder to speak to the Creator.
Salman reported that Allah’s Messenger (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “Verily, Allah created, on the same very day when He created the heavens and the earth, one hundred parts of mercy. Every part of mercy is coextensive with the space between the heavens. and the earth and He out of this mercy endowed one part to the earth and it is because of this that the mother shows affection to her child and even the beasts and birds show kindness to one another and when there would be the Day of Resurrection, Allah would make full (use of Mercy).” [Sahih Muslim]
Under normal circumstances, a mother’s mercy is truly something tremendous. I am sorry that you have not experienced this with your own mother. I pray that Allah will give you the chance to show love, patience and compassion to your own children. As you know, firsthand, motherhood is not for everyone. However, with the right tools, abused children such as yourself can become incredible parents. What you have is the gift of insight, and a determination to not repeat history.
Books such as “Parenting From The Inside Out” by by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed. will help you process your grief, help free you from your past, and help you be the best mother you can be. Healing from childhood trauma is a lifelong journey, and having a child is a tremendous incentive to heal. You will still make mistakes because you are human, but inshaAllah, your children will not ever undergo the pain you went through with your mother.
This may be incredibly hard for you to believe, but perhaps the arrival of grandchildren will soften your mother’s heart. Anything is possible through the Mercy of Allah.
Who do you have for support? What are some things you can do to help you feel better?
It can be difficult to navigate relationships amongst siblings in an abusive home. It sounds like your youngest sibling has been given license to treat the rest of you badly. This is unacceptable. Calmly state that it’s not OK for him to behave that way, and walk away. There is no need for you to fall into the trap of argumentation and name-calling; simply assert yourself firmly and respectfully. Your youngest sibling is learning from the unfortunate example of your mother, so model better behaviour.
I pray that Allah soothes the hearts in your household, softens your mother’s heart, and inspires you to respond in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.