Parenting Gone Wrong

This is an interaction I had with someone on my Tumblr blog. It touches on the destructive relationships that some parents have with their children. It’s something quite close to home for me, so I thought I’d share it here as well. The content that is bold is my opinion that I shared on the issues being raised. 

What if a person has a sort-of narcissistic mother? And what if she has disliked the child since the child was young (but loved the child’s younger sibling), and still blames the child (even when the child is now an adult) for everything? So in her heart and mind, her child is the one with problems, the one who is the cause of all pain in her life.

Narcissistic mothers are more common than you would imagine. I can’t count the number of mothers I’ve seen in my own experiences that openly and aggressively compete with their daughters (usually the eldest daughter if there’s more than one). It’s disturbing to say the least, and not uncommon to find them choosing a favourite between their children.

What if the reason for the mother having bad feelings towards her child is the child’s fault for not having enough sabr?

While that is a distinct possibility, given the rest of the scenarios presented below, that sounds almost like Stockholm Syndrome where the victim starts to sympathise with the aggressor’s position and sees them as justified in their actions.

Let’s say once the child was an adult, they went back to try and fix things and create a relationship with the mother again. But the mother continued to emotionally condemn and hurt the person, but that the person tried to have sabr, and limited their visits with their mother just to keep the peace. What if one time, the person had to stay with the mother for over 5 days due to a specific circumstance. What if during this time, no matter how quiet the person tried to stay, the mother became increasingly irritated and angry with them and started saying horrible things. (And the sibling of the person took the mothers side also, saying that they don’t want that person in their lives anymore – there must be something wrong with the person then, right, and not the mother?)

I disagree. It doesn’t necessarily imply that there is something wrong with the person. What it does suggest is that the mother has some issues relating to an association with the person in question. In other words, the mother could have been at a difficult time in her life when she gave conceived and/or gave birth to the child that is being pushed aside. As a result, especially in younger mothers, it’s not uncommon for them to project their own disappointments about life on the unborn or newborn child because it makes it easy for them to project their failures on the child instead of accepting responsibility for the choices they made. E.g. So if the mother had aspirations of building a career or having a certain amount of social freedom at that point in her life, and she ended up having an unplanned baby, in her weakness to acknowledge her own contribution to that situation, she would blame the baby for robbing her off those aspirations, and that blame, when nurtured for long enough, could become really toxic in their relationship in later years.

Then what if the mother physically hurt the person in anger- as if they were a small child again- and what if this time the person just had enough and finally snapped, reacting back to the mother?
Isn’t it the fault of that person for not having enough sabr with the situation? And now because of that, the mother is angry and holds an even bigger grudge than before and has now disowned that person from the family completely.
So…. in Allah’s eyes, isn’t the person to blame, since the mother should always be respected and not shown anger towards?

The person was bound to snap at some point, because as human beings, we have an inherent need for reciprocation, appreciation or gratitude. Our efforts must yield some beneficial results at some point or else we’re bound to snap out of anger at feeling incompetent or insignificant in the situation we’re trying to resolve. While being disrespectful towards a parent can never be condoned, I don’t believe there is anything wrong in maintaining a healthy distance in order to discourage a situation from arising that would lead to such disrespect becoming unavoidable. Islam is holistic in its approach to everything, and therefore, in this situation, the mother would need to fulfil her duties and responsibilities in order to enjoy the benefits of the elevated position that Islam affords her. In this case, the mother would always find a reason to justify her view about the merits and qualities of the person in question because she would need that to avoid taking accountability for her own actions that led up to the toxic situation between the two of them.

And how would it work out on the day of judgement? Because ultimately it’s her word against the child’s and from the importance of the relationship with the mother in Islam, doesn’t that mean that the child of the mother has no chance on the day of judgement to enter Jannah? No matter how much the person repents, ultimately, isn’t it the word of the mother against theirs?

I don’t think the Day of Judgement will be about one person’s word against another’s because all our deeds are clearly recorded. Our own bodies will act as witnesses against us, so no one’s opinion will carry weight on that day. Allah will judge fairly between the two, and we will not be held accountable for those situations that are out of our control. We will only be accountable for that which we could have done but didn’t do, within reasonable limits. 

Of course Allah knows best, but I’m just wondering.

P.s. At the same time though, the mother is a practicing Muslim, a kind and generous person in general. So it’s very confusing for the child, they wonder if it really is them with the problem, since the mother is a good person and practicing Muslim in general. So if that’s the case, does the child have any chance of entering Jannah, since the only time the mother becomes abusive and angry like this is when they are around. Therefore, there must be something wrong with that particular child of the mother’s, right?

Again, it’s not necessarily due to a fault on the part of the child. Some parents, for whatever reason, just take a natural dislike and develop a very competitive relationship with their child/children. There’s nothing any child can do to change that because the one with the predominant power and influence is the parent. Until the child attains a level of independence and success as an adult, it’s hardly likely that the parent will see them differently. Even then, the parent could choose to continue seeing the child’s success as a result of their sacrifices rather than acknowledging their child’s efforts to make a good life for themselves. So the best is to just recognise the constraints and dynamics of the relationship for what it is, and take the needed steps to avoid further contention.

This reminds me of the incident between the Prophet (SAW) and Wahshi, the man that killed Hamzah (RA). After asking him for an explanation of what happened, Rasulullah (SAW) forgave him and asked him never to show him his face again. The reason I’m reminded of this incident is because a similar theme could play out here. The person could accept that the current circumstances are just not conducive towards a healthy relationship with the parent, and so should avoid unnecessary contact without severing family ties. Insha-Allah in time, the absence and independent growth on both sides may lead to a thawing of the ice in the relationship and result in mutual respect developing, Ameen. 

P.S. It’s normal for the favourite child to be sympathetic towards the parent’s views, until they reach an age of maturity where they are able to view the relationship more objectively.

2 responses to “Parenting Gone Wrong”

  1. Your scenerio works itself out in many families. I, for one, cannot understand how the parents are not aware of the damage they are doing to their children. As a parent myself, I try very much to be fair to my children and not to favor one over the other.

    • I agree…and it’s sad. Leaves me speechless every time I hear of such cases, of which there is no shortage. 🙁 I’ve got friends that have serious psychological scars because of the way in which they’re treated by their mothers.

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