Question: My in-laws are non-Muslim and insist that we celebrate Christmas with them in a non-religious way, with a meal and gift-giving. I have attended before in the interests of keeping family ties, but I have a baby and do not want to normalize this or be in an environment in which alcohol is present with my child. What is the best way to approach this? I feel torn between protecting my child & keeping ties.
Thank you for your question. What you face is difficult and uncomfortable, but if you set the correct standards for yourself now with kindness and courage, you will have ease later on, by the grace of Allah.
Please see these links for details about situations like yours:
Set a Standard
The standard with your in-laws should be that they do not bring alcohol into your presence. It is not the right environment for a believer and certainly not for a child. This standard should have been set before your child was born. Do not worry, it is never too late, and you should start now. First, get your husband on the same page and have him speak with his parents as they are his parents and not yours.
Anger and Kindness
This will not be easy, and they might respond with anger and guilt-tripping you or insulting you, but your beliefs deserve respect even if they do not agree with you. Return their emotions with silence or kindness and smiles, but do not be apologetic. Have the courage to hold your ground, and they will eventually respect you for it.
Keep Family Ties
This is not a situation that requires you to break family ties, as very few situations do. Perhaps you can go to their home after the alcohol is cleared out in the afternoon or the day before Christmas. You can still participate in the gift-giving and meal. Just do it on your own terms, and keep up good ties throughout Christmas while standing by your standards. One day, by the grace of Allah, they will choose your presence over the alcohol, and just pull the drinks out after you leave! I have seen this with others.
May Allah reward you and give you and your family the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.