Islamic marriage advice and family advice

13 Year Old Daughter is Paranoid About Coronavirus

Coronavirus illustration


As-salamu alaykum wa rahmatullah. My 13 year old daughter, Salma, is a good girl. She gets top marks in school and does not misbehave.

However, she is in a state of depression these days because of the Coronavirus, and I am not sure what to do.

Salma has school online, through the computer. The rest of the day she mostly stays in her room with the door closed, watching Youtube, drawing or just doing nothing. Moping. In the afternoon I give her some chores to do, mostly to get her out of her room. For example, yesterday we swept the back patio together and cleaned the lawn furniture. In the evening we eat dinner together and pray together.

Aside from this, Salma has no human contact with anyone. She does not want to go outside at all because of her fear of the virus, not even for a walk, or to the park. She does not go to the store with me (I do wear a mask). She refuses to meet any of her friends because she says we are having a pandemic and it's not safe. She doesn't even want to call her friends on the phone, not because she does not like them - she's a very social person who loves her friends - but because she is depressed. I got her a bicycle but she will not ride it. Every day I ask her to play Frisbee with me, or chess, or cards. She always says no.

She hardly speaks to anyone. She complains about everything. I am not blaming her. I understand that this is an extremely difficult time. She feels uncertainty about the future. And of course she is at a difficult age, the transition from childhood to the teenage years.

Wael and Salma at Superior Dairy, Hanford California

Wael and Salma at Superior Dairy, Hanford California

I love her and I don't want her to be unhappy. I try to remind her that this situation is temporary. Difficult times are a part of life. They come and go. By this time next year, Coronavirus will be a thing of the past, and our lives will be back to normal, inshaAllah. We have to be patient and trust in Allah.

Yes, this crisis is extraordinary, but like all crises, it will pass. One day it will be a story to tell her kids: "You think this is hard? When I was a kid we had the Coronavirus!"

Any suggestions for me? I need ideas for how to engage Salma with life, get her out of her room, lift her out of depression, and reduce her fear of the current crisis.

Jazakum Allah khayr.

- Wael

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13 Responses »

  1. First figure out what the problem with her is. If I were you then I would go in her room and see what she does. One day just randomly go in unexpected and tell her you wanna use her laptop and check her Internet history etc. Maybe she had a secret relationship and broke up, maybe she is getting bullied. It's something I would investigate and if it turns out wrong then I can cross it off.

    And if it turns out she's just really freaked out with this whole covid-19 then I would make her understand that she's in a safe environment and that the expert are doing their best to tackle the virus. Also educate her how gloves mask etc protect her from contracting the virus. And I would also make her understand that it's only God who decides when and how you die.

    And this is where as a parent you should step in and force her. You need to remember you're not her friend, you're her mother. If something is good and will 100% help then make her. One day call her friend and then put the phone next to her and make her speak. Tell her put on her shoes shes coming out with you to shopping. If you're afraid then get your husband to step and talk. Someone with authority.

  2. Asalamualaykum Brother Wael,

    First off, I just want to say that your daughter Salma is beautiful, MashaAllah.

    I don't have all the answers, as teenagers tend to be secretive and not entirely open with their going-ons as a sort of rule. I was secretive at that age, and so were my sisters. One of my sisters is 11 years younger than me and I clearly remember her hiding out in her room with the door closed much of the time. But in our case, we felt like we had to be secretive to avoid getting in trouble or the family dysfunction. My father didn't have much business with me other than to criticize, so I was literally scared of him and stayed away.

    I think Brother Ahmed makes a great point. You are her father and while you want her to feel comfortable sharing things with you, you also have to be an authority figure that she would respect. We don't always respect our friend's opinions, but in the case of our parents, even when we don't agree with them and we put up a fight, we end up listening in the end or eventually see the truth in what they were saying.

    I wouldn't suggest just barging into her room and asking her to hand over her privacy, as we all do have a right to privacy as we get older and it can feel like a boundary violation. But I would certainly knock on the door and ask her if it is a good time to come in and talk. Tell her that you are worried about her and ask her if there's anything she'd like to share with a comforting manner. Just tell her that if there's anything she wants to share or needs help with, anything at all, that you are there for her. Just be there, if and when she wants to open up, rather than demanding immediate answers.

    I also like Brother Ahmad's idea of telling her that the two of you are going to get groceries or going for a walk around the neighborhood. She may not be enthusiastic about it, but she won't have a choice. You won't give her one.

    If she is watching tv or youtube, she may have heard that people are being asked to stay at home. And that this isn't the time to be having family get-togethers or hanging out with friends. I mean, it's all over the news and everyone's sick of hearing about it. I think in California, they are starting to open things up, but where I am, we are still encouraged to stay home. Perhaps she is taking something very seriously that does not seem as serious to you? I'm not judging...just saying that everyone's personality is different. Only you know hers...does she tend to be a serious, pensive person or is this the first time she's giving an indication of this? Also, has she ever had any symptoms of depression prior to this?

    It's possible too that she is having human contact on the internet, so doesn't seem to need any more of it. You should outright ask her if she is communicating with her friends on the internet. It's so easy to get lost on the internet, that we forget where we are at times, and don't even talk to people who are right there in the room with us!

    Ultimately, it's about striking a balance between what she wants and what you want for her. As a father, you are her protector, after all, and there are times when you know what's best for her, and there are times when she knows what's best for herself. Let this be one of those times when you know what's best for her. It doesn't make you a bad father at all. It's not like you have no rights as her father. As she gets older, she will understand why you did the things that you did, Inshallah. So you're forcing her to go the grocery store with you? And she puts up a fight? That's fine. Let her put up the fight and then take her with you anyways.

    I wish you the best in your journey as a father to a teen! Ameen.


    • Sister Nor, thanks so much for your comments. No, she's never been depressed before, though she has always been a mostly serious person with a sharp, analytical mind. And a rule follower, whereas I am more of an adventurous free spirit.

      "Let this be one of those times when you know what's best for her."

      That's very helpful, thank you.

      • You could also do reversed psychology on your daughter. Tell her you want to speak and then start saying I noticed you're depressed and afraid of going out and socialising with your friends. She will then deny everything then you reply OK. Prove it by coming outside with me. You could also one day pretend to have a head ache and can't read anything, make her come with you guilt trip her into coming with you. Be like I need your help find this specific medicine and you can't read as you got headache. I know it's bad to guilt trip anyone but it does so much good in this incident because its important she moves around or else she will just pile on weight and become rigid

      • Brother Wael,

        Perhaps she is taking this all very seriously then. I think explaining that the precautions like the gloves, masks, and social distancing will keep her safe will dispel some of her fears. If you get her to the store even once, she will see that there are other people there too and Inshallah will feel better.

        And you are very welcome 🙂


      • And Brother, I think it goes without saying that if you notice that she has symptoms of depression over an extended period of time, you see a professional. Sadness, boredom, and loneliness are one thing, clinical depression entirely another (I know you are aware of that). Inshallah things will improve following the virus though as you say in your post, and that won't be necessary. I just had to mention it because depression can start to manifest in one's teens if one has a genetic predisposition to it.

  3. Assalamualaikum Br Wael.

    Girls are not like martial arts. To understand what her problem is, sometimes you can't go direct. Here is an idea, in case you'd like to try. She likes to draw? You draw with her. Before that, go to the store and get something for drawing. Like a new set of drawing paper + pencils + colour. Whatever. Buy in small quantity just enough for one, two or maximum three drawing sessions.

    Then, start drawing. With her and in her room. Just draw. The next day, do the same thing. Draw something else. Just draw some more. With her and in her room.

    The third day, ask her whether you and her can continue drawing but do it just outside the room, like in the hall or even better, the patio. Why? You've been drawing on A4 paper size and now you want to draw a bigger picture like on a piece of old newspaper so now, you and her need a bigger space.

    If she doesn't want to, don't force her but you must think of other reasons. Then, when there are no more drawing paper/colours, ask her to go to the store with you. Tell her that she needs to go with you because she knows which colour to buy and which pencil is better etc.

    After that, why don't you and her continue drawing at the park? You need to persuade her and before you do that, connect with Allah, the Turner of hearts.

    • SHF, very clever strategy, thank you. So girl does not = martial arts? Lol. But seriously, these are good ideas.

      • Brother Wael,

        It's like this: girls = X martial arts.

        How is Salma now? Did you try? Did it work?

        • I haven't tried these precise ideas. But I got her a bike and I've been teaching her to ride. And I've taken her out for ice cream. We get the ice cream then sit on the car and eat. Also, I convinced her to have a hangout with one friend, and she had a wonderful time. So, small steps.

    • I was freaking out when the pandemic started and wasnt going out until a very beloved aunt of mine got very sick due to cancer and was eventually hospitalized. this was the hospital where they had the most corona patients treated so obviously it was scary .
      so I noticed it was a matter of going out the first time only. once you're out , it gets 75% easier to go out again . so yes again, as someone suggested, create an emergency situation and take her out of the house

      • This is a good tip about how it gets easier after the first time. I don't want to create an emergency situation because I don't want to add to her stress. But I can find other ways to entice her out.

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