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Dear Kisa,

I have a very strained relationship with my mother, we do not get along, it feels like she never understands my perspective, it truly would be easier if I didn’t speak to her at all, as every conversation we have turns into a fight. I love her, but I really, really don’t like her at this point in my life. How do I navigate this??


A troubled daughter


Dear Troubled Daughter,

It must be incredibly exhausting to have such a strained relationship with your mother! When it comes down to it, you can only control yourself and your own behavior, emotions, and responses. Even when our relationships are strained and extremely difficult to navigate, it is important to remember that our own behavior is a representation of who we are and who we choose to be. When we maintain our familial relationships, we embody the hadīth by Imām Muḥammad al-Bāqir (a), “Maintaining good relations with relatives cleanses the deeds, repulses misfortunes, increases wealth, delays the coming of death, enlarges ones share of sustenance and brings love to the family. Therefore, one must be pious before Allah and maintain good relations with ones relatives.” (Ūṣūl al-Kāfī, vol 2, Ḥadīth 13)

Instead of shutting your mother out entirely, this advice may help you work through what you may be experiencing and strengthen your relationship with Allah (swt) through this difficult time:

  1. Empathy: your mother grew up and was raised in a very different society, environment, and culture. She has her own set of experiences and has faced her own challenges. Try to acknowledge these differences while valuing the lessons she has learnt and is trying to impart to you.
  1. In Sūrah Luqmān Allah (swt) says, “And We have enjoined man in respect of his parents– his mother bears him with faintings upon faintings and his weaning takes two years– saying: Be grateful to Me and to both your parents; to Me is the eventual coming. And if they contend with you that you should associate with Me what you have no knowledge of, do not obey them, and keep company with them in this world kindly…” (Sūrah Luqmān, 31:14-15). Your mother has a right over you, troubled relationship or not, that in and of itself is worthy of your respect. 
  1. Boundaries: Taking space can be healthy, especially when you are constantly in a state of fighting and arguing with someone who you love. So take a break, acknowledge the mental toll it takes to navigate this relationship, and focus on finding peace in the words of Allah (swt) in Sūrah Hud, verse 115, “And be patient; indeed God does not waste the reward of the virtuous.”

Healing and developing a healthy relationship with someone, is a two-way street, but you can only control yourself and your efforts, in the words of Imām ʿAlī (ʿa) “It is upon you to strive but it is not upon you to succeed.” (Ghurar al-Ḥikam, Ḥadīth #4404)



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