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My Relationship with my family is very strained, what can I do?

My Relationship with my family is very strained, what can I do?


Salaam. My relationship with my family is very strained. No matter what I do, my parents always see me in a negative light. My older sister is very manipulative and always gets her way, so I get into a lot of trouble. I tried everything: Being nicer, making duaa, but nothing seems to change. I am honestly so sick and tired of being the one who is always “the bad child”, and its pretty obvious my parents have favourites. At the end of the day I still love them but I don’t know what to do anymore.

Wa alykum as-salaam,

I’d like to start out by saying I’m sorry that your relationship is strained with your family, but, I’d like to share something from the start that applies to the majority of these sorts of issues: communication. It sounds so simple, and to many it sounds stupid, but it’s true, communicating one’s feelings, and understanding other people’s perspective is central towards healthy relationships, and the lack of this, usually creates unnecessary problems.

Let me start out with myself, now I have a few siblings, but there’s a bit of a age gap between the first block of kids and the second block, and so overall, I’m near the end, but in the second block, I’m the middle child. So, obviously, I have middle child syndrome, so I can relate to what you’re saying.

Many times, I felt like my parents were just ignoring me. I felt like they were putting attention to my other siblings, and I began to resent them. They didn’t do anything to me (except my little brother, who had his bratty moments, mostly because he didn’t fear my mother, because she got soft with him… Or maybe she was just exhausted? Anyways) The point is, even if your sister is a manipulating genius and uses Jedi mind tricks on your parents, there’s something you’re doing which gives either her or them the opportunity to see you in a bad light or the communication between you and your parents (and your sister, too) is creating unnecessary tension.

Only God knows what is within the hearts of your family members, and maybe they are doing things to spite you, but, the fact that you say that you still love them, makes me believe that it is far less dramatic issue.

So, I brought up myself and my siblings earlier, for a reason. As I got older, I would sit with my parents, especially my mom, and ask her why they didn’t put as much attention to me as they did to my other siblings. My mother was weirded out, and she said: “because I didn’t have to worry about you, you just took care of yourself, you’d come home, hug me, and go do whatever. I thought, ‘okay, that kid is fine, these other ones need me.’ That’s why, because I trusted you.”

I’m not sure if that really gets to your particular issue, but it was huge for me, because, I thought my parents just, didn’t like me, or that I annoyed them, and I felt that no matter what I did, they weren’t happy for me. The reality was that, in their mind, they needed to put their attention into my other siblings, and that if I ever needed something, I would ask them. Indeed, my parents were always more than happy to help me in any way they could and my parents never let me forget that they loved me, alhamdulilah, it was just that in comparison to my other siblings, the amount of attention I got was less.

So, from my personal experience, many times these issues can be overblown in our own heads. I’m not trying to tell you that you have no right to be frustrated, but since I do not know the particulars of your situation, and because you seem to indicate that you do love your family and that you clearly see value in family, I get the sense that maybe you are experiencing something similar to what I did.

Honestly, I would stay away from the things that they are getting you in trouble for. I don’t advocate this often, but, if they are getting mad at you for getting an education, then let them be mad, because that is for your benefit. However, if it is because you’re out at night, or hanging around some shady people, then stop it, they’re afraid for you, and you’ll probably be better off without engaging in that behavior.

I know it’s frustrating to be considered the “bad child,” many Muslims think, because of my appearance, that I’m the type of guy who goes out and is a “bad kid.” However, you must realize that there will alwaysbe that perception from people, and the most important thing is that you are indeed not doing bad things and that you should find inner peace in knowing what you have done right and in moving away from that which is wrong.

One of my favorite stories about The Prophet, is when he used to walk everyday, there was this old woman, who would pour her trash on him. We’re not talking newspapers and gum wrappers, we’re talking animal guts. He would just walk past, and she would just dump the trash on him. This was a daily occurrence and he did nothing, said nothing, just continued on. Then, one day, he was walking and no trash was dropped on him. He went up to her house to see what happened to her, and he found out that she was sick. She was so astounded, and he asked about her health, and for the next few days, he would return to her house to help her clean her home, feed her, and pray for her until she was well again. So overwhelmed by this kindness, she became a Muslim.

We seldom mention these stories, for some reason, when looking at The Prophet. We talk about grand victories, or how he said that doing this or that will lead to heaven or hell, but we seem to fail to recognize that, beyond being The Messenger of God, and the vessel through which God communicated His Message, The Prophet was an incredible man, and the limits of his patience are something we should aspire to and can attain.

As I do not know what your specific situation is, I realize that this advice might not be the best. However, I would ask that you please try to communicate with your family, to stop doing things that they object to (within reason), to be patient even when you are at a breaking point, to pray for the fortitude to continue, and to never stop loving your family. Even if you get to a point where you have a huge rift between yourself and your family, respect them, because that is the lesson our Prophet and the Prophets before him have consistently taught us, and that it is that unwavering dedication to what is right, which always rights all wrongs and heals all wounds.

Insha Allah, I pray for you, and ask that if you have any follow up questions, please do not hesitate to ask me, and if you’d like to contact me privately, just give me a way how, and I’ll be there to listen to.

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