Is It Normal for Mum to Argue About My Father's Family?

Question and answer details
Is It Normal for Mum to Argue About My Father's Family?
As-salamu wa alaykum! It's great to have a website like this to ask questions... Thank you. I'm 15 years old and my mother usually has arguments about my fathers family. My father arrived in this country a little more than 20 years ago and sponsered his six brothers, 1 sister, and his father and mother, who eventually arrived at our home. At that time my father was married and we were going through some financial problems when my dad didn’t have a job. Additionally, we had to take care of the extra 7 people we sponsored. My mother started working extra hours at her work to make up for some of the lost money. My dad searched for a new job for himself and his brothers. My parents did everything they could to help my fathers brothers, sister and parents. He sponsered them from a farm in a third would country and gave them shelter, food, and clothes when they arrived. Now all five brothers are making money and married. All of them have jobs one has a university degree and the rest own a successful store together. My fathers parents are still around, subhan-Allah, and my father’s sister is married too. Now the problem arrives -for some reason my parents argue with each other and with my fathers side of family. I've noticed that they don’t treat the eldest brother who happens to be my father with respect even though he brought them here from half-way around the world and helped them. My parents try to be kind to them. For example:My mother often phones my aunts when they're not feeling well. But when my mum’s health isn’t good she doesn’t even get one call from them. My fathers side (mostly my uncles wives) talk behind my parents back and make sinful remarks about us, even in front of their faces. Sometimes my parents get angry and yell at them too. But we're only human so it's normal to let out these feelings in a proper manner. My dad often talks with his mother and asks her to talk some sense into her sons and daughter. But nothing has changed. She pretends as if nothing is wrong. I hope I don’t sound like a naive teenager but my older brother who is much wiser agrees with me too. My father often says that he cannot yell at his parents because of the restriction to respect our parents in Islam. I am very proud of how he much he loves his parents and doesn’t yell at them which is the reason why he can’t get his point across, and I have to say, he shows a lot of respect to his parents despite what's happening. This fight has been going on for years and years. We've negotiated but it only works for a while then the entire argument comes back after a month or so. I don’t think negotiating is a good way to solve this problem, we've tried it several times. My dad feels stress a lot because he puts so much effort into helping his family and now they're disrespecting him. There are a lot of other events I could tell you about like how my uncles don’t show respect to their oldest brother (my father), but I want to end now. What should I do? What is the Islamic thing to do? I don’t feel I could make much of a difference because I’m still pretty young. Please give me some advice to bring peace to our family... Jazak-Allah.
Hwaa Irfan

As-salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh my son and may Allah (SWT) continue to give you the strength and the insight that you already have – `in sha’allah.

You have surely been blessed with such an honorable father who has done so much for his parents, his brothers and his sister. He has taken on such a difficult task and has shown what conviction of faith can achieve. Unfortunately from what you have said my son it seems like the old case of jealousy. Your mother’s resentment at your father fulfiling his duty to his family has not helped matters much and it may be the reason why the help which your father has given to his family has gone unappreciated.

As you have rightly said: “But we're only human so it's normal to let out these feelings in a proper manner”. However the level of bad feeling seems to have stopped them from listening to each other. Once one stops listening there is a great affect on ones judgement and whether one means it or not, it becomes easy to misunderstand, misinterpret or say things that upset the other person. So you have shown us that negotiation has not worked. Well – how can you expect it to if your mother wants an either/or situation = his family for hers. It doesn't have to be that way otherwise ‘never the twain shall meet’.

Each side is busy hurting each other in self defence and being frightened of what they feel they might lose. No one is noticing the affect on you father or the fact that he is still there for everyone. So this is the starting point and yes you are young and it should not fall on your shoulders, but the good thing about being young and full of understanding and compassion as you are is that you stand a better chance at melting the ice than the adults. In fact you have done very well to survive the ‘domestic war’ as you have done and to still have a sense of humanity and balance about all of it. You understand what your mother needs to, which is that her husband is still there for her despite what her in-laws have done. Becuase your mother feels threatened, her sense of being neglected is greater, and one must not forget that she has worked hard too for the sake of the family. You might have to do some little whispers with one of your great smiles or a twinkle in the eye and just show her the good things about your father in relation to her. This might melt the ice a little or even enough for her to feel there is no need to be jealous.

You have stayed together as a family for this long when others have separated for much less so do no give-up. Allah (SWT) is always there for you. From your father’s point of view he has been holding the peace – well at least he has been trying to. However, if I am not wrong, from what you have said he has been so busy working and trying to do the best that he can for everybody concerned and has probably grown accustomed to having your mothe's support that he has not realized her needs fully.  So you will also need to do a little father and son talk every now and again to get him to see that she has a right to be respected in her own home and to be concerned for the welfare of her family. Get him to spend less time running around troubleshooting and some time relaxing with your mother by going out for walks without the rest of the family, to the restaurant even doing the shopping together.

It would be good for the both of them to take time out of the atmosphere of jealousy and just enjoy each others company. Either way, your father could definitely do with the break! Oh yes, I forgot – you have an older brother! Well in that case whilst you are trying to melt the ice with your mother he can be doing likewise with your father.
As for your uncles and your grandparents, there has been enough war of words on the matter. How many more years can this go on for? No wonder you are at the end of your tether. It is time for action now and if you and your brother are successful with your parents they will be able to demonstrate through their new attitude towards each other that it is time for his family to take more responsibility for their thoughts and their actions. As long as your father continues to show them love and respect and your mother can be more understanding once her needs have been met; this should help them to realize gradually that they have done well and that is is time for your father to have more of a life with his own family.

What matters is being able to maintain love and respect and in the case of your mother to increase demonstrating love and respect. Yes I know you are young, but not too young to use your adolescent charm on your parents. It can do much more than you think, especially when adults do not behave like adults. You and your brother have each other for mutual support and any plan of action you might need to carry out and Allah's guidance through du`aa'. I pray that you find the answer satisfactory. If I have misunderstood anything please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Give our salaams to your brother and fi-aman-Allah.

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