Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Why is my mother like this?

   Parent's have too many expectations.

Parent's have too many expectations.

Previous post by this author:

Hey all. Me again. In case you are curious, after two years of searching I have finally found something that I love doing and am pursuing it now. I am happy in that aspect. And to all who have given me great advice *and made me cry*, thank you so very much.

So here is my other problem.

I had a fight with my mother today and she was super angry and went 'hysterical' about it.

Part I

It started out when she asked my youngest sister if she has any thoughts of being a doctor as her career. Hearing my mother say that I got sensitive about it because ever since we were young, all my mother did was to put unrealistic expectations on us. She did not ask for our opinion whenever the matter concerns us and just makes a decision even though it will hurt us emotionally.

So without hesitation I ranted out some words which were constructive and not hurtful at all. The next part made me much more irritated.

Part 2

My mom loves to bring up about her past. I understand fully that she did not get the best childhood, was facing financial difficulties and she herself had a mother whom treated her like a step-daughter. However, my siblings and I have heard this story over and over and over and over and over again, to a point that we get frustrated. Whenever she brings up her past I felt as if she can never let go of it, even if she tells a million people. She has such a deep planted grudge against the pain, suffering and somehow her parents. To turn it all around she will point out how lucky we are and that we are given food, shelter and clothes thus we should at least become a Surgeon, Doctor, Professor, Engineer...

To continue, I was frustrated and spurted out words that I know are worthy of a punch in the face. I told her, 'If you hated your life so much, you should have just killed your parents'. Yes yes, I can hear the gasps and feel the hatred. But try to look at it from my perspective. She has been telling us about her past since we can't even talk yet. And to listen to it for the next 18 years. I feel like we are being emotionally blackmailed with this stories of her past. We can't even feel bad about ourselves.

Part 3

Here comes part 3. Whenever she is angry with us, she turns us all into nemesis and a bunch of ungrateful daughters. I do not understand her at all even when I come from her womb. In the midst of all the chaos, the talk of money comes in. For  some reason, MONEY becomes the topic. She will spout out things like, 'I have fed you all my life. Can't any of you feel pity for me. All of you are just waiting for me to die so that you can get my money.' From here onward my mind just goes blank. What did she say? Death? Money? We have never wished for such thing. I feel like my prayers to God to lengthen her stay on earth just flushed down the toilet.

On top of that, she would play with words like, 'Do not make me ask God for bad things to happen to you.' All I can say is... Astaghfirullah. She did not threaten us with this once but a few times. I am just speechless.

Every time she does this I cannot understand her at all. How she thinks that is. She feels that us, her children, owe her a lifetime of debt. Why? Because she gave birth to us, fed us, clothe us and give a roof over our heads. What makes me even more angry she never blames her husband (I refer to him as that because we were never close at all - my biological father). He never tried working after his cancer phase so all the financial burden is on my mother. And now she blames us for being useless and a burden to her financially. My mind, body and soul is just empty for words.

I don't know. She expects us to be successful in a blink of an eye, she wants us to be like swimming in cash... I just don't know what she wants.

I'm writing this post hoping someone would give me their perspective. Sorry if the post is too personal. I genuinely want to understand her, help her and actually face this problem that has been bugging me for 20 years.


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8 Responses »

  1. Salaams,

    From reading your post I saw two things about your mother. The first one is that she is still obviously affected emotionally by her past, perhaps even traumatized from it. As a bystander this may be difficult for you to understand, because rationally you recognize that life has gone on and your mother is no longer a child in that childhood environment. But the interesting thing about trauma is, the brain doesn't recognize this. The brain is still stuck in the past where the negative things are happening, and doesn't fully recognize that life and time has gone on. It isn't a conscious process, but unconscious. That's why no amount of logic or rationalizing is going to help her move past wherever she is stuck. She would literally need a professional to help her bring closure to all the things she remembers, and she would have to decide for herself that she needs help for her to take that step. You can't do it for her. I'm explaining all this to you so that the next time your mother seems to be stuck in a time warp and trying to bring your or others in, you can recognize what's going on in her brain (without her realizing it) and not feel the need to respond in reactionary ways. Perhaps you may even feel pity for her at the time.

    The second thing I've noticed is that she has probably adopted some of the maladaptive patterns she grew up with as her own. When someone grows up in a dysfunctional family, the "lesson" often learned (again, not by choice per se, but subconsciously) is that power lies in the actions of the sick parents. So if her own parents or mother used guilt and shame as a weapon to keep your mother in her place, she probably learned that this is also the way she needs to parent you and your sister. That's why she plays the victim and tries to make you both feel bad if things are not going her way. You have to understand, to have things go "her way" is probably an unmet need from decades ago that she is compelled to fulfill- albeit in dysfunctional ways. That's why the drama often plays out the way it does.

    The key here is for you to remember is that it's not about changing your mother or getting her to see what she's doing to you and your sister. The chances of being able to do that, at her age, are very low. Rather, the power lies in recognizing what has made her become the woman she is, and separating that from how it affects you. Once you see and understand the dynamic, you can choose leave it as part of her history and personality and not let it affect you emotionally.

    Years ago I watched a movie called The Joy Luck Club after reading the book by Amy Tan. I thought it was a superb representation of how emotional baggage passes from generation to generation, particularly with mothers and daughters. If you get the chance, it might not hurt to check it out. I found it very helpful personally, in the sense that it helped me look at my own family dynamics in a more "detached" way, which in turn gives the power to choose a better response to others.

    -Amy Editor

  2. Assalamualaykum,

    I am sorry to hear for what you are going through. I won't be surprised with the replies you will receive by our fellow muslims here.

    We have bunch of stories on how our prophet asked us to deal with our parents. We get all kind of suggestions from people on how to address your issue but you need a solution to this with in the limits of Islam. After Allah, prophet(pbuh) comes our mother. In Quran Allah says "Worship God and join not any partners with Him; and be kind to your parents..." [Noble Quran 4:36]

    "Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say, "My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood." [Noble Quran 17:23-24]

    "And We have enjoined on man [to be good] to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and his weaning was over two years. Be thankful to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination."[Noble Quran 31:14]

    "The greatest sins are to associate partners in worship with Allah, to be undutiful or unkind to one's parents, to kill a soul forbidden by Allah and to bear false witness." [Sahîh Bukhârî]

    Zayn al-'Abidîn (d. 713CE) was the great grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and also a renowned scholar. He used to treat his mother with so much kindness and love as seen in the following narration:

    Once he was asked, 'You are the most kind person to his mother, yet we have never seen you eating with her from a single dish.' He replied, 'I fear that my hand would take the what her eyes have already seen in the dish, and then I would be disobeying her'. [At-Tartushi, Birr al-Wâlidayn]

    Even if she is wrong you should reply her in a calm and better manner without raising your voice nor making hurtful statements. There are people out there who missed their childhood and entire life without mother. Ask them how it feels when you have no one to back you up or give you ideas or want you to be someone or who waits for you at home while you are out. I was very little when my dad passed away and it has been almost two decades, yet i see no person on this earth who tap my shoulder and praise for what i have done in life or someone who gives me ideas or want me to be someone in future. Recently on of my aunt passed away and her son always use to shout on her,scream on her saying he would correct her no matter what even if she is mad or hurt. My aunt use to cry at times but use to face her son's torture. Few months ago she passed away and now he realises what he did to her and he miss her every second.

    It is not allowed to disrespect even if your parents are non belivers. Be polite and give your opinion, if she doesn't agree then make dua for her. If she is cursing you then try to smile for what she says and hug her and i am sure no mother on this earth would push their kids for doing this. And then ask how her duas might be accepted and it isn't good to curse in this manner. I know its not easy, it might hurt your ego but who cares she is your mother.

    • Hi. I really appreciate your answer...

      I posted it up because I want to approach it in a different light and perspective. Your reminders makes me realize this Ramadhan that I really need to get my stuff together.

  3. I can relate to you what you have written about your mom. Because I have a mom who is very similar to yours.

    Like your mom, my mom also talks about her past. When she talks about it, no matter how I respond, I end up feeling guilty after listening these stories. May be her intention is sincere, may be she never had someone to talk about these things of her life, but unfortunately, I feel that majority of the times there are always some elements of emotional blackmail in these stories. For example, when I show sympathy for what she had gone through, she will say that I am not listening attentively. She is right. After coming from work, I really cannot give her 100% attention when she tells me the stories that I have heard over and over. If I do really listen to her, then the conversation turns towards how these sacrifices have made our lives (meaning her children's life) so good. Sometimes she starts crying reminding us how we have never been as obedient as she wanted. Consequently, I also feel guilty. Sometimes when I try to rationalize with her saying "why did you not do this or that", she responds that what she did at that situation was the best and I should not try to understand more than her. Again, I end up feeling guilty.

    As Sister Amy has suggested, people like my mom really need therapy. However, the problem with my mom is, I will never be able to take her for therapy or any such thing. Because she is a kind of person who thinks that she understands everything. She understands better than everyone.

    So what is the outcome? When I am at work, I am eager to come home, but as soon as I come home and I am made to hear these stories, I feel that work place was better. It also happened to me that sometimes these stories frustrated me so much that I was about to cry (of course my mom did not see that). I wanted to love my mom naturally. I want this love to be natural. However, her emotional blackmail, controlling manner, her constant disregarding of my opinion, her refusal to understand a different viewpoint, and her attitude of thinking that she knows best, has killed my natural love for her. And it makes me feel extremely guilty. I want to do best ihsaan with her. I want to love my mom naturally. I want be the best son. I want to truly appreciate all her sacrifices. But how? 🙁

  4. I feel that such parents are one of the greatest opportunity for one to get the hightest places in Jannah.(If Jannah is what you really dream of at the first place).Everytime ur parent is being mean to you,insulting you,not being fair to you,not being there for u,humiliating you,not understanding you etc these situations present one of the greatest tests for an individual.It really requires tons of patience and rock solid eeman to control these situations according to the guidance of Allah.It's really hard infact damn hard to remember all those Quranic ayahs and Hadith which command about being patient towards parents in that rush of that spit of anger.
    If somehow u can overcome that dead difficult situation just for the sake of Allah,then the reward and benefit Allah has promised u is beyond the scope of human comprehension.
    That's all I can say.Try taking these scenarios as opportunities to please Allah rather than deeming urself unlucky.
    If you can do that consistently,them u've succeeded.You win.

    • Hey. Thanks for the new perspective you have laid out for me.

      I feel dumb right now for not realizing that it is a test from Him. I never dared and never thought that parents can be a test from God for a child just because they are YOUR parents.

      Your view has opened up a new perspective for me and I thank you for that.

      Have a great Ramadhan.

    • Jazak Allah Khair brother. I feel the same way as you do.
      Right now I'm going through an especially difficult time with her because of a few horrible exam results. Please make dua for me(especially in the qadr nights) so that my next set of results is good. I feel suicidal for the first time in my life (not because of my results but because of my mom's emotional blackmailing)!

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