Can a Single Mother Distance Herself from Her Abusive Adult Children?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

There is a sister who has been divorced for 14 years after suffering from domestic violence. She has two children, a boy who now is 24 and a girl who is 20. Her daughter lived with her and her son chose to live with his father.

The father gambled all his life and her son now gambles too. She spent her whole life paying child support to the father of her son and paid for her son’s Quran lessons and taught her daughter the religion. The girl moved in with her father at 18 because he (their father) has no rules there.

The mother has health problems and the children are constantly disrespecting, abusing her, and causing her problems. Can she distance herself from them?

Answer

Thank you for your question. I am so very sorry to hear about this heartbreaking situation. I pray that this lady finds peace and tranquility with her Lord and with His remembrance and is compensated well for her suffering, by Allah’s grace.

Reasons

Unfortunately, you should know that our adult children are a mirror of our collective investment in the relationship. They may be disrespectful now because they feel hurt, neglected, abandoned, or just not given enough opportunities while being raised. Although respect is non-negotiable, their behavior can be a cry for help or the result of a deep-seated need that was never fulfilled. Children in their twenties are usually at the peak of their rebellion, impatience, and enthusiasm for changing their parents, and with time, patience and supplication, it usually gets better.

Distance

Yes, it is permissible for her to distance herself from her children. It may even be obligatory because one must prevent oneself from being abused. She should not stand for any disrespect or abuse and she has a right to protect herself. She should not blame herself now or obsess over the past, but I urge her to repent for her past sins, even the ones that she was unaware of, and that she not reciprocate the disrespect. Let her retain her dignity and speak to her children with decency and honor, even if it is infrequent. She should put her trust in Allah, repent for her past sins, and supplicate to Him to better their relationship, and take it one day at a time.

Supplication

The Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “When half of the night or two-thirds of it is over, Allah (the Blessed and the Exalted) descends to the lowest heaven and says, ‘Is there any beggar so that he be given? Is there any supplicator so that he be answered? Is there any beggar of forgiveness so that he be forgiven? (And Allah continues saying it) until it is daybreak.’” [Muslim]

Answer Suggestions:
How to Counsel a Teenager with Religious Shortcomings?
My Teenage Son Is Not a Good Muslim
My Teenager Is Disrespectful and Has No Empathy. What Do I Do?

May Allah give you 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, tafsir, 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 later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.