Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Dysfunctional Family: No one acts responsibly

Dysfunctional familyMe
I am 37 years  old guy who lives in Europe with his wife and a baby daughter and earn a decent living.
Whereas my parents as well as a younger bother (33 years) live in my home country.

I come from a middle income household, a very loving family but the problem is that no one acts responsibly in my family so much so that their recklessness have the to potential to put us all out in the street.

Although, such behaviors have existed throughout my life, but I think the situation which developed after 2000 does not seem to have an end in sight and no matter how hard I try I feel my family is bent upon keeping the problems alive and being in a state of
blissful ignorance.

It puts immense pressure on me to arrange a respectful living for them especially, when they are not willing to behave as adults and value the resources that are available to them.

I would like to have your thoughts on how can help my family  and prevent them from their self destructive behavior, fulfill my religious obligations towards them while not jeopardizing the future of my kids.

Father's role and me going abroad
My father has always been a reckless guy, someone who thinks very highly of himself, is not well educated, my grandfather arranged a job for him in a bank where he stayed until the day he was fired at the age of 53.
Throughout his career, he lived a callous live, not saving anything, not planning for anything and making castles in the air and idling his time. As a result, our life style was always lower middle class and struggled to make ends meet despite my father being in a respectable position of a manager at a major bank.

After he was fired, he blamed it all on few relatives who tried to help him, became increasingly abusive and refused to take up any work. He is the kind of guy who think that he deserves to be taken care of by just being a "son-in-law" and has a huge sense of entitlement as a father and husband whereas he is not willing to bear any discomfort neither as a father or as a husband.

He conveniently proclaimed that he has taken care of us for a good 25 years and retired to his life of watching TV all day,
leaving us to get charity from our extended family to make ends meets.

After about a year of support from the extended family, I graduated from a good university on state scholarship and
got a job in an IT firm and quickly started to take care of family.

I supported my family for about two years in the meantime trying to go abroad for studies and earn a better living.

I had an estranged relationship with my father even before all this;  we did not talk to each other or eat in the same room
ever since, I was in 10th grade for a reason that I hardly remember.

Shortly, before my flight abroad, the family insisted that I should talk to my father and get his blessing after 6-7 years of not
talking to each other or being in the same room; which is a hard thing to do if you live in a small house.

I went abroad to study by borrowing money from relatives, got a small job while studying and started to support the family from there.

Mother' role and developments back home
As I was studying abroad and supporting my family back home,  my father continued to shrug his responsibilities and became increasingly abusive towards the family, whereas, my mother trying to be "a good wife" and to avoid the stigma of divorce went out of her way to be a loyal wife. So much so that she continues to enable the destructive behaviors of my father and brother.

My mother also used to share her sorrows with my younger brother who despite being fine guy, was disturbed by all this fighting and could not even finish high school. While, sharing the problems helped my mother, it did also effect my brother and he started to see things from a melo-dramtic prespective. So much so that, my brother became the best friend of my mother, whereas, I was just the guy sending money from abroad. They also started to hide things from him since, I questioned their actions.

Since her childhood, my mother also had a habit of shrugging her responsibilities. She used to get favors from her siblings which continued even after marriage. As a result, if husband is not working or son does not study, no problem, she will share her sorrow story with her family and the aunts and uncles would help us out. To my mother it was all what siblings do but to the relatives it was thinly veiled charity.

The Transition
After 2 years, I finished my education, got a real job and moved my mother and brother to a house in a upscale neighborhood hoping that would provide my brother a better environment to study and keep the stress away from my brother while maintaining a separate house for my unruly father.

After being established for a while and saving up a little money, I wanted to get married in my culture.
All the above pressures hardly allowed to me indulge in something like a romance, so an arranged marriage was the way to go for me.

In this regard, I made 5-6 visits to my home country and each time my mother, instead of finding a suitable family, took the easy way out of blaming me instead for being too picky. I did not have any specific wishes and I could see that matches she found could be disastrous.

My father did not show up for a single of such visits, whenever, I tried to include him, he took it as opportunity to proclaim:
"aha you cannot do it with out me" and created a huge scene.

He started to give up on things very quickly, e.g., if chemistry was hard, father got abusive, mother said no worries, try something else. He used to pick up another course and turned out it was also too hard for him as well and the cycle repeated. time and again

Shortly, afterwards, even the basic subjects  were also hard for him and could hardly finish 10th grade in the 3rd attempt.

Since, my parents believed in letting the kids find their knack, my brother turned to more exotic subjects like fashion design and music which hardly make sense for a lower middle class family. My mother supported him saying., "who knows, he might get successful there". But, in the end result was always the same.

The Current Situation

  • My father is now 65. He is starting to develop a heart condition. Still spends all his day doing on useless activities that do not even suit his age. I do not try to rub it into his face how negligent of a father he has been and treat him with respect; but as result he now proclaims what a great father he has been by saying "one son is settled abroad the other takes care of me here, perfect"I now maintain a separate house for him in a lower middle class neighborhood. He lives there alone and my brother visits him every week to give him money and home cooked meals. Such a life not only creates an unnecessary burden on our resources but is also very embarrassing in front of my in-laws.Whenever, he is sick or needs something, he come to my mother's home and enjoys full rights of a father and a husband for however long he desires.Recently, when we showed early signs of a heart condition, I took some weeks to find the doctors because, such heart procedures could be expensive and I needed to see if we are going to the right doctors. He was furious at the delay, took a cab and went to one of our relatives, saying my family has abandoned me.
  • My mother is also getting old but in good health. She cannot stay in the presence of my father for longs as he starts to get obnoxious and throws a fit.I maintain a 5 room upper portion of a house for my mother and brother in an upscale neighborhood. The rent of this place is almost 50% of what I give to my mother for monthly expenses. Which in my opinion is a waste for a family of two. On top of it the rent is agreed to increase by 10% every year, therefore, in few years it will eat up most of their monthly budget. But that is what my mother wants as she cannot be away from this neighborhood.Both my father and mother want to perform Hajj, and I am happy to enable them but how can I send them on Hajj when they cannot stay in the same house. On top of it both of them have special wishes:My father says, send me for a Umrah first alone and then I will be familiar and next year send me on Hajj.
    He also has tendencies of not getting back out of religious reasons, without realizing what kind of problem it would create for me.My mother says that I send her with my brother, since at the moment I cannot take my wife and daughter for Hajj.
    If that is not possible send her with a group of Hajjis.
  • My brother, now does a dead end job that brings nothing more than pocket money.
    Has no plans to get married or achieve anything. He does not try to learn anything useful.Whenever, I try to set a goal from him he gets angry and resists giving me feedback on his progress.
    I have tried positive encouragement, tried to set shared goals or even tough love, but he is too comfortable in his zone.So much so that, I told him that he needs to learn a skill otherwise, he should find his own accommodation.
    He knew that I would not follow through on my threat and mother will not let this happen.As a results, he lives in a big house, enjoy driving a car to work, and enjoys life without any responsibility or ambition.
  • Killing me with love
    House DHA
    Eid gifts

I have worked hard so that we could have a respectable living but childishness  is a big source of distress for me.


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9 Responses »

  1. Assalaamualaikum, brother.

    From an Islamic point of view, you are fulfilling your obligations that are required from a son towards his parents. So outside of that, there is no blame on you, but if you still seek to please your parents outside of the obligations, you will gain Allah pleasure. The time that the parents need to be looked after most carefully is in their old-age, and to serve them devotedly in that state is most pleasing to Allah and it is an easy way to attain Paradise.

    Abu Hurairah (R.A.) relates that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "May he be disgraced, may,he be disgraced, may he be disgraced." "Who?" The Sahaaba enquired. "The person whose parents, or any one of them, attain old-age during his life-time and he does not earn Paradise (by being kind-hearted and dutiful to them)!"

    Therefore, anyone who gets an opportunity to serve his parents in their old-age and does not avail himself to it (to attain Paradise), undoubtedly, he is a most wretched person.

    Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “A man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, who among the people is most deserving of my good companionship?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ The man asked, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, then who?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Your father.’”

    So first let's look at the rights of parents over their son:

    (a) Love and respect, as much as possible, because they are the most deserving of people of her son’s good companionship.

    Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “A man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, who among the people is most deserving of my good companionship?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ The man asked, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, then who?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Your father.’”

    (b) Taking care of them and looking after their affairs if they need that; this is a debt that rests on the child’s shoulders. Did they not take care of him when you were a child and stay up with you at night and bear it all with patience?

    “And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship. And she brings him forth with hardship…” (Al-Ahqaaf 46:15)

    ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) said: “A man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and asked him for permission to participate in jihaad. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to him, ‘Are your parents alive?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Then your jihaad is with them.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2842; Muslim, 2549)

    (c) Not offending them or saying or doing anything that they dislike.

    “Say not to them a word of disrespect” (Al-Israa’ 17:23)

    (d) Spending on them if they are in need and do not have a support who can spend on them; for the righteous, spending on one’s parents and feeding them is more precious than feeding their own children.

    Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both) narrated that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Three men went out walking and rain began to fall on them. They entered a cave in a mountain, then a rock fell (blocking the entrance to the cave). They said to one another, Pray to Allaah by virtue of the best deeds that you have done. One of them said, O Allaah, my parents were elderly and I used to go out and tend to my flocks, then I would milk them and bring the milk to my parents for them to drink from it, then I would give some to my children. One night I came home late and found them sleeping. I did not want to wake them, and the children were crying at my feet. I kept waiting and the children kept crying until dawn broke. O Allaah, if You knew that I did that for Your sake, then open a way for us through which we can see the sky. So a way was opened for them…” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2102; Muslim, 2743).

    f) After one’s parents die, it is Sunnah to fulfil any vows that she had made, and to give charity and perform Hajj and ‘Umrah on her behalf.

    It was reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) that a woman from Juhaynah came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: “My mother vowed to go for Hajj, but she died before she did so. Can I perform Hajj on her behalf?” He said, “Yes, perform Hajj on her behalf. Do you not think that if your mother owed a debt that you would pay it off for her? Fulfil her debt to Allaah, for Allaah is more deserving that what is owed to Him should be paid.” (narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1754).

    (g)After parents die, it is also Sunnah to honour them by maintaining ties with those whom they used to keep in touch with, such as their relatives and friends.

    It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best of righteous deeds is for a man to keep in touch with his father’s friends after he dies.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2552).

    You have to acknowledge their status and respect them and offer them good companionship, even if they give you a hard time with regard to things that Allaah has made permissible for you. Allaah has commanded us to treat our parents well even if they are kuffaar who call you to shirk, so how about if they are calling us to something which they sincerely believe to be good? Even if sometimes it causes you some difficulty with regard to something that is permissible for you, the best thing to do is to obey them and do what they want. Even though you do not have to do this, it is a kind of sacrifice and giving them preference, because they are the most deserving of being given good treatment. In the Qur’aan, Allaah has mentioned obedience to parents immediately after worship of Him, in order to demonstrate the high status afforded obedience to parents.

    With regard to you now that you have grown up and independent, your father makes his own decisions concerning things that Allaah has permitted. It is prescribed for you to please your father so long as that does not conflict with his obedience towards Allaah. You must continue to respect you father no matter how old he gets, because this has to do with honouring one’s parents and treating them kindly. It was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar said: “I never climbed onto the roof of a house in which my father was.”

    If a father tells a child to do something good, or to stop doing something that is permissible, he should obey him so long as that will not cause the son any harm.

    By clearly proving, quietly discussing and speaking softly, giving examples of your sound attitude. May Allaah open your parents' heart so that they will deal with you easily.


  2. Selam,

    May Allah bless you for all that you’re doing for your family. It’s so sweet!

    You are fulfilling your duties as a son, and going beyond your ability to help your brother, it’s very admirable and may Allah reward you for it.

    As our parents are getting older, they’re getting weaker, they need our support and love.
    And you’re trying your best to give it.
    Can you try getting your parents together and simply talking to them?
    It’s not great that your father is 65 and living alone,
    Give them a condition of trying to get along before you send them on umrah/ Hajj. Explain the spiritual benefits of getting along and trying to honour each other.

    With your brother, tell him to man up!
    Explain to him that he will have his own family one day, and he really needs to start being responsible. Sometimes, sitting down and talking will sort the problem out.

    All the best,
    Your sister in Islam


  3. Salaam Yusuf
    Just would like to comment every mother would be proud to have a son like you.
    Mashallah may Allah give you more patience and reward you here and in the hereafter.
    Please continue as you are Allah will bless you more.
    from a mother's point of view as i am.

  4. Assalaamualaykum Okdeduss,

    I think you have gone above and beyond the call of duty Masha Allah. You will be rewarded greatly, as no good deed goes to waste. That said, I do have a few thoughts.

    I believe you are taking on more than your share of the burden. And you are the oldest, so it's natural that it fell on you. However, there are few things that are not your fight to win, or your battle to fight, and I think being aware of them will relieve you of some stress.

    You say that your younger brother is in a "dead end job" with only "pocket money." You are continually on his back about doing more, being more. What you need to recognize is that he is an adult of 33, and can make his own decisions about his life, based on his own experiences. He has been under the far-from-stellar influence of your parents his entire life, which I am assuming only because you said didn't really give us detail on what your father's pastimes are. This being the case, he does not have the "ambition" to do what you think he should be doing. However, he does have ambition in his own right...He holds down a job, and you need to respect him for that. It may not seem like a very influential position to you, but every job in this world is important and has a purpose. Would you judge him for his job if you knew that Allah has chosen this for him at this point in time? Because that is exactly the case. Please try to let go of your ideas of what another adult should be doing! You will see that it lightens your load as well!

    As far as your parents go, I will say to you what mine say to me on a regular basis..."They have lived their life." While there are a few exceptions, rarely do people of that age feel the need to change their ways. Your focus should be on the present ...not on all the ways in which they wronged your family. You are doing a great job coping with and taking care of their current needs. In fact, I think you wrote in for validation more than anything else. You needed to feel validated for all the hard work you do. But your birth was your validation!

    Do what you can to help your family, but remember that if you didn't do something for them, Allah would still take care of them. Someone else or something else would come through in your absence. If you think about it that way, you will feel less pressured and less resentful of their needs.

    Give this some thought. Inshallah you will feel relieved.




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