Islamic marriage advice and family advice

My father has become difficult to live with


As salaamu alaykum.

This is has become quite a horrible situation in my family. My father has become a horrible person to live with. He doesn't realise that one of the reasons both he and my mother are still together was that because every time she wanted to divorce him, I talked her out of it.

We moved to another country 7 years ago so it took some time to adjust to the change in our lives and find our footing. My family and I (consisting of my parents and two younger sisters) have managed to settle down in this country and slowly Allah (SWT) is making our life easier.

For quite some time now, my father has been acting arrogant, ungrateful and selfish (among other things). He has recently found a new job after being retrenched and is not grateful for what he does. He used to complain that he had no job and now he constantly complains everyday to my mother and sometimes at the dinner table about how his current job is terrible and how his life is not what he wanted it to be. He has poor relations with everyone in the family - no one looks forward to his arrival from work and the days he does not work.

This has lead to a lot of arguments and fights between my mother and himself as well as himself and I. We are losing patience with him. He gets angry over the littlest things and spends the next hour ranting and shouting about how no one respects him in the house. He calls us "grateful pieces of **** [Editor's note: expletive deleted] for children" and how we are not respectful and obedient. His displays has led to my family and I having a very poor opinion of him. His arrogance stems from the fact that he believes that women should follow orders from a man without hesitation and serve them.

Four hours before I wrote this, he and I had a horrible fight. It involved screaming and me crying.

The fight started when, by accident, my youngest sister broke a glass cup. He was yelling about how we "don't listen to him" and everybody was just fed up with his behaviour.

He began attacking me and everything spiraled downwards from there (there is a lot of friction between us so I have a short fuse when it comes to him). I told him to leave me alone and walked away but he screamed at me saying "don't you give me orders!" so I repeated what I had said. Eventually I lost my patience and called him "stupid" and started calling him arrogant and telling him that he has a wonderful job and how can he be so ungrateful about it when it was what he prayed for?

I understand that no job is perfect but at least be grateful for what Allah (SWT) has provided for you until something better is presented.....

He started screaming at me saying that we are horrible children and I replied by saying, "Well if you were a good person, a good father, you wouldn't have this problem." He doesn't interact with us very much. And when he does, it is to criticize or make fun and annoy us until we get angry with him - then it is our fault when we get angry.

While we were fighting he told me two things which has deeply hurt me and I hate him for these things:

1) I mean nothing to him

2) He blames me for the relationship between my two younger sisters (they fight a lot)

He has said these things to me numerous times in the past, while also calling me "a selfish, ungrateful, little piece of **** [Editor's note: expletive deleted]," "a disgrace," and so on. He also holds me responsible for all the wrongs my sisters do, justifying this by saying that because I am the eldest, I need to set a good example. This is unfair. I understand that as the eldest daughter I have to behave in a way that my younger sisters would admire and emulate but to blame me for all the things that they have done wrong is unacceptable.

I honestly don't know how to proceed and I am tired of trying to restore our relationship. I was angry and said hurtful things, but they were the truth. It's how I see him.

I need advice on what to do. I am on the verge of shutting him out of my life for good.


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6 Responses »

  1. Assalam alaikum,

    I am sorry for what you are going through.

    You have to stop arguing with your father, even if you are right. The other part is difficult. You also have to come to the realization that a person who becomes a parent doesn't necessarily inherit good judgement, or manners, or even the right decisions. So then what to do? I believe you need to make time for yourself to love yourself, focus on positive energy, find fulfillment and comfort in the remembrance of Allah and devote yourself to finding peace outside of ANY relationship because it appears you have a dysfunctional family. You also will have to get rid of the notion of depending on your father, without holding a grudge towards him--I mean forgiving him to let yourself not feel a burden. This is hard and sometimes it comes to us after years of introspection. You may completely reject this idea upon reading it, but think about it and take time to analyze the dynamics in your family. Right now, the easiest thing to do is hate your father and be right--the hardest thing, but most freeing thing to do is forgive him and find ways of managing your life in a different way.

    Your mother and father's relationship isn't your responsibility. If there are issues there, they need counselling, but you absolutely can't be the counsellor.

    As for your sisters, you can be the best role model that you can, but they are still responsible for their own actions and you can own no one's actions but your own.

    I don't know how old you are, but I would suggest that you get the best possible education you can and learn to take of yourself and try to leave the baggage of your family in the past. Forget what you can and forgive what you can't. And I know many will disagree with me, but I would keep your father at arm's length in your life and future (especially from a potential spouse and children)--because there appears to be some narcissistic qualities in your father.

    Don't argue with him, don't call him names, just stay focused and don't let anyone change that in you. When you think your fuse is going to blow, recite a du'a or something to calm you down (I find Iyat-ul-Kursi calms me down when I feel that way). Stop trying to own other people's actions or be the hero in every situation--it isn't fair to you and it leading to the way you feel right now. Get counselling with a female psychologist to help you gain perspective. You are in a situation in which there is a lot of negativity and the best thing to do is create a protective bubble for yourself and have patience and wisdom. The problem with wisdom is that it usually appears after the opportunity to use it is gone.

    With focusing on yourself, your education, your relationship with Allah swt and plans for the future, you can be successful in all this--and unfortunately, none of this is easy, but it also isn't impossible. May Allah give you the strength and wisdom that you need, Ameen.

  2. Salam,

    I think your situation requires a counselor or your dad should see a psychiatrist. May be something is bothering him. Its very hard to tell without knowing his side of the story. like was he always like this? What made him like this? Financial Problems? Health problems? and other issues? Does he drink? etc. All these could play a role here.

    The first step is i think your mother and father should try to fix their relationship. The Quran tells us
    "And if you fear a separation between the two of them, appoint an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her family. If they desire reconciliation, Allah will bring them into agreement. Verily Allah is Knowing, Knowledgeable." [Quran 4:35]
    Are there any elders of the family who can step in and try to resolve things between your mother and father? If so, then try to get them involved. But only really close relatives, from both sides who would actually help and not make it worse.

    Secondly, no matter how your father abuses you. Try your best not to reply him with bad words. I know it must be hard, but have patience with him. Avoid talking when you are angry.

    Again, i think an external force needs to intervene here. I don't know which country you are in. But if there are centers that you can reach out to help, then go for them. Last but not the least, pray to God sincerely and tell him your problems like you tell us here.
    I am hopeful, things will get better. Ameen

  3. I agree with Aamer. I also think it sounds like your father has a bad case of depression. You need to pray, and perhaps ask a family eldoer or the Imam to take an interest in your father. Perhaps the Imam is sensitive enough to consider advising your father to consider counseling.

    Some Imams in the US also offer what the Christians call "pastoral counseling."

  4. AssalamAlikum,

    Except for praying for your father, there is not much you can do about it. He has issues that he needs to aware of it and fix it by himself. I don't blame you for shutting him out of your life as I believe it is a phase that he has to go through and you have to go through.

    You may feel like walking in a minefield everyday but you will get through it, inshallah. I will advise you, your sibling and your mother work together as a team. Try to make the house as comfortable as it can. For example, serve him a cup of tea when he's back from work, keep the house clean and tidy. You and your sibling do your chores at home and pursue the best in your school work. Assist your mother as much as you can. In this way, he won't be aggregate easily by the environment. Unless he asks you questions, leave him alone and keep the house quiet. Stay in your room and mind your own work. Try your best to answer him with a calm voice. Don't reason with him, brush away all the negative things he said. Remember, he has issues and may be depression. Even what he said is hurtful but he doesn't mean it as he cannot control his anger.

    Inshallah, the time will change him and you as well. Keep a good relationship with your mom and your sibling. It is not easy to immigrant to another country and start a new life. I need you to understand your father is not as malleable than you and your sibling. Try your best, pray for him, keep your salat and be a good sisters for your siblings. One day, you will leave this house and have your own family. There is no need to force yourself to love him but you need to fulfill your duty as a daughter.

  5. Aoa Sister,

    MashaAllah you are a brave and sensible person and I pray that you get immensely rewarded for continuing to be a good person even in difficult times.

    I have been personally through a similar phase but Al-Hamduillah, things are now manageable and to an extent even cordial. Therefore, in my response below I try to share things that worked for us and hope that they could help you as well..

    You Dad:
    You need to understand your dad's perspective. He has lived through a big part of his life and
    if he is still not able to meet his own expectations or to do well financially. It is natural to have such mid-life crises and get frustrated.

    It may be so that your dad is an impractical, lazy guy without skills for any profession or thinks highly of himself that he deserves nothing less than an executive position but at least in his mind he has relocated himself to a different country, goes to a soul crushing job where he is not respected, cannot afford good life style, his social circle does not consider him successful and he is going through all this for his family.

    But does he have the right to abuse you and your family, absolutely NOT!!

    Now, in this situation you can do the following things:

    1) Do not infuriate him any further, do not engage with him on this issue. He is just venting his
    frustration and not looking for a solution. So do not let yourself be a punching bag for him.

    2) Try not to argue with him (even when he does not deserve it, do so just to please Allah) so that your mental peace is not disturbed.

    In some families the situation is made even worse if the wife and the kids also question the father on his ability to provide for the family. If this is the case then please refrain from it as it will not solve the problem rather it will add to the bitterness that already exists.

    3) Hopefully, in 5-6 years, when you are successful, he will also realize that he has bought 3 good daughters in the world and it is something he can take pride in.

    4) You, your mother and sisters can try to minimize their interaction with your father but yet being respectful to him.

    Your Mother
    You have not mentioned much about your mother but I am sensing she is playing victim and unintentionally or intentionally hiding behind kids. As a responsible mother she should step up and urge you kids to leave it between she and her husband, but is common for mothers to bruise the personalities of the kids in terms of sharing or catharsis.

    You have mentioned that you have talked your mother out of divorcing your father. I think it is irresponsible of her to suggest something like that without considering the full range of consequences
    on her kids in the long term.

    You have also mentioned:
    "His arrogance stems from the fact that he believes that women should follow orders from a man without hesitation and serve them."

    As far as a women who chooses to be a muslim wife are concerned, it is her responsibility to please her husband as much as possible.You can look up Islamic literature on this and it means listening to her husband unless he is asking for something that is unislamic or life threatening. The obligation is on the wife if she wants to please Allah, but still it does not give the husband the right to be abusive if the wife does not fulfill her obligation.

    If your mother is not listening to your father because he is impractical or she does not agree with his approach. She should take a non confrontational approach instead of snapping at him or telling him that she is not obligated to listening to him. This is incorrect and will lead to fights.

    To me you are the real victim here. Research shows that it is common for first born kids to assume the role of a pseudo-parent if the parents are not doing their roles. The most important thing to do in an abnormal situation is to maintain a sense of normality. So, please consciously try not to project this negativity on to your life and expectations from married life. Try to develop a healthy balanced personality, get good education and have a good family of your own.

    As an elder sister, this is the best example you can set for your younger sisters.

    Trust me sister, all of this will pass once you are successful. I know it is VERY difficult for you at the moment, but please focus on what is really important and do not let such bad behavior steal your energies.

    Try to think of a "happy place" where you will be if you just focus your energies in getting there. It will motivate you to avoid such confrontation.

    I pray for your well being and may Allah Taa'ala give you strength to go through this ordeal.


  6. Sister, are supposed to set a good example as an older sister however what example has your father set for any of you? Hypocritical at best.

    I will tell you the same thing I told my children growing the bigger person. Go apologize to your father and make things right. Allah will bless you for it and you in turn will have a weight lifted off of your shoulders even though you and I know that it is your father who should come and apologize to you. That is something that would never happen and I am certain that you know that to be true.

    Keep supporting your mother and do the best that you can given the circumstances you are in. Life moves forward and so will you. May Allah bless your family and soften your fathers heart towards all of you.


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