Kalima

A Sister’s Reflection: Why is it so Difficult to be Dutiful to Challenging Parents

I’ve established that the sole reason my parents expect to me to exist is based on serving them. Completely fine if those parents are righteous, but even righteous parents don’t have the expectation for their children to be at their feet 24/7, which is exactly what my parents want. My existence is based on being in complete servitude to them, providing for them and nothing else. They wish to remove the only power I could possibly have – being financially independent – so I am forced to rely upon them for my needs and wants and be stuck in their vicious dynamic. 

I used to think it was unhealthy to avoid them, but now I’m starting to see that I have to, as much as possible so I don’t fall into their traps. I have to avoid them to protect my peace. To protect my sanity. If I fall into one of my mother’s emotional blackmail traps, she will abuse it with me and often she is used as bait by my father to coerce me to do things I didn’t want to do. I see exactly what my mum expects of me; to be her caretaker. Every conversation is “I need you to do this or do that.” I don’t receive anything from them except shelter and even that is not something they give happily. I am aware of the view they hold: “what will the community say?”. If I leave, a huge shame will be brought upon them. 

They feed me excessively so no one will say I’m underfed. Or I haven’t been taken care of. It makes sense that my mother would encourage me to be well dressed and disliked the Niqab I wore. The wearing of simple clothing made me look like I was poor. As if I wasn’t attended to. She wanted me to be dressed up so as to appear well taken care of. But in an Islamic community, she would brag to others about me wearing the Niqab so she would appear religious. 

The more I notice of her intentions, the more I want to stay away from her. The more I attend to her, the more she takes advantage of me. She was never a mother to me. 

If I’ve attempted to confront her about how I’m treated, she says I hurt her feelings and only I can ever make her cry. She cries and I realise it’s not because she loves me and is hurt by my words, even though I simply expressed my frustration and needs. It is simply that she feels she has lost control over my empathy towards her. She wants to use me as her emotional support for the things my father puts her through. She can emotionally offload onto me.

She uses emotional blackmail, saying “the fact that you made your mother cry is a big sin.” Because when I do confront her, she realised she lost a daughter she never deserved. 

Now that I think about it, this whole time I was protecting her from others, when I should been protecting myself from her. And that’s a hard truth.

She gives to me only when she’s in fear of losing me. She gives me money or gifts, expecting gratitude in return so I’d stay in the cycle. Immediately after she gives me something, she says “perhaps you will remember this and be grateful after I die” or “after I die, you’ll remember I did something for you.” Manipulation tactics. An attempt to manipulate me into thinking good of her. Like she did me a favour and I owe her. She constantly reminds me, holding it over me like a dark cloud, so I will be at her feet. The truth would be, “here’s a little something for enduring the pain I put you through so you will continue to put up with it.” That’s why it’s so hard to fulfil duties towards them.

When I come across Islamic content, telling us to be dutiful to our parents, my response to the speaker is, “are you asking me to kill myself?” Because that’s ultimately what it would lead to. 

I know that’s the general and default position we should have with righteous parents. If I had righteous parents, I would be a doormat for them without a doubt. But in some cases, it’s like moving mountains. 

It’s funny because when I no longer fall for her games, my father steps up his game and starts buying her stuff she wants. Recently, I have been very avoidant of her and have stopped myself falling into her traps. I was completely mentally checked out. I locked myself in my room, oversleeping or being avoidant. I recognise this is unhealthy. But the more I observe my mother, the more I avoid her. 

My father recognises the lack of “support” I have given her and he sees how it affects my mother, so this week he decided to buy her a kettle she wanted. On a rare encounter I had with her, she brags about the kettle he bought beaming with joy. I thought to myself, it’s almost beneficial that I step away from her, perhaps her delusions will be fulfilled by her husband. When I distance myself from her, he steps in. He’ll ask her if she’s okay, or if she’s hungry. And for me, it makes me realise I have nothing to worry about. They are made for each other. She gets what she wants, his attention. 

I guess I realise how I need to react to all of this. The key is basically to not react. And to ask Allah to protect me from people who don’t have the best intentions for me. 

It’s also scary to think my mum became the person she feared. She fears my father, and in turn became him. And I lost her. 

A Siser’s Reflection: Why is it so Difficult to be Dutiful to Challenging Parents

I’ve established that that’s the sole reason my parents expect to me to exist is based on serving them, which is fine to do for a righteous parents. But even righteous parents don’t look for that expectation for their children to be at their feet 24/7 which is what my parents want. My existence is based on supporting them or providing for them and nothing else. They wish to remove any power I may have which is being financially independent so I can rely upon them for my needs and wants and be stuck in their vicious dynamic. 

I used to think it was unhealthy to avoid them, but now I’m starting to see that I have to, as much as possible so I don’t fall into their traps. I have to avoid them to protect my peace. To protect my sanity. If I fall into one of my mother’s emotional blackmail traps, she will abuse it with me and often she is used as bait by my father to coerce me to do things I didn’t want to do. I see exactly what my mum expects of me; to be her caretaker. Every conversation is “I need you to do this or do that.” I don’t receive anything from them except shelter and even that is not something they give happily. I am aware of the view they hold: “what will the community say?”. If I leave, a huge shame will be brought upon them. 

They feed me excessively so no one will say I’m underfed. Or I haven’t been taken care of. It makes sense that my mother would encourage me to be well dressed and disliked the Niqab I wore. The wearing of simple clothing made me look like I was poor. As if I wasn’t attended to. She wanted me to be dressed up so as to appear well taken care of. But in an Islamic community, she would brag to others about me wearing the Niqab so she would appear religious. 

The more I notice of her intentions, the more I want to stay away from her. The more I attend to her, the more she takes advantage of me. She was never a mother to me. 

If I’ve attempted to confront her about how I’m treated, she says I hurt her feelings and only I can ever make her cry. She cries and I realise it’s not because she loves me and is hurt by my words, even though I simply expressed my frustration and needs. It is simply that she feels she has lost control over my empathy towards her. She wants to use me as her emotional support for the things my father puts her through. She can emotionally offload onto me.

She uses emotional blackmail, saying “the fact that you made your mother cry is a big sin.” Because when I do confront her, she realised she lost a daughter she never deserved. 

Now that I think about it, this whole time I was protecting her from others, when I should been protecting myself from her. And that’s a hard truth.

She gives to me only when she’s in fear of losing me. She gives me money or gifts, expecting gratitude in return so I’d stay in the cycle. Immediately after she gives me something, she says “perhaps you will remember this and be grateful after I die” or “after I die, you’ll remember I did something for you.” Manipulation tactics. An attempt to manipulate me into thinking good of her. Like she did me a favour and I owe her. She constantly reminds me, holding it over me like a dark cloud, so I will be at her feet. The truth would be, “here’s a little something for enduring the pain I put you through so you will continue to put up with it.” That’s why it’s so hard to fulfil duties towards them.

When I come across Islamic content, telling us to be dutiful to our parents, my response to the speaker is, “are you asking me to kill myself?” Because that’s ultimately what it would lead to. 

I know that’s the general and default position we should have with righteous parents. If I had righteous parents, I would be a doormat for them without a doubt. But in some cases, it’s like moving mountains. 

It’s funny because when I no longer fall for her games, my father steps up his game and starts buying her stuff she wants. Recently, I have been very avoidant of her and have stopped myself falling into her traps. I was completely mentally checked out. I locked myself in my room, oversleeping or being avoidant. I recognise this is unhealthy. But the more I observe my mother, the more I avoid her. 

My father recognises the lack of “support” I have given her and he sees how it affects my mother, so this week he decided to buy her a kettle she wanted. On a rare encounter I had with her, she brags about the kettle he bought beaming with joy. I thought to myself, it’s almost beneficial that I step away from her, perhaps her delusions will be fulfilled by her husband. When I distance myself from her, he steps in. He’ll ask her if she’s okay, or if she’s hungry. And for me, it makes me realise I have nothing to worry about. They are made for each other. She gets what she wants, his attention. 

I guess I realise how I need to react to all of this. The key is basically to not react. And to ask Allah to protect me from people who don’t have the best intentions for me. 

It’s also scary to think my mum became the person she feared. She fears my father, and in turn became him. And I lost her. 

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