Is It Better to Live at the House Provided by My Ex-husband Who Is in Polygamous Marriage or Shall I Obey My Parent’s Wish Live with Them?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

May Allah guide us and strengthen our iman and love for Him and His beloved Prophet. I am a divorced woman with a son and daughter, 3.5 years old and 5.5 years old. I follow the Maliki school.

My parents want my children and me to move back in with them. My ex-husband won’t let the kids go there with me and I don’t think I can be away from them. My ex offered that I will still be part of his family (we live separately), meaning that would provide me with a home, food, and clothes. I would be responsible to help and ‘work’ for our family which includes looking after my children and his other children (we were in a polygamous situation).

I want to accept this situation but I am really worried that I am a disobedient daughter by not obeying my parents’ wishes to live with them. On the other hand, I feel that my children need me more than they do. My parents live in their own house next to my sister’s house. Thank you.

Answer

I pray that this finds you well and that you are embarking on a beneficial and stress-free phase after your divorce. May Allah put blessings (barakah) in this change for yourself and your children.

Obeying Parents

First, please read this article by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani which clarifies when a parent can be disobeyed, though with respect and honor. Kindly read this:
When May Parents Be Disobeyed, and How?

What Is Best for You and Your Children

From the situation that you describe, I feel it is a better choice to live in the space provided by your ex-husband. There is a reason for this.

It is imperative that children be with their parents. You say that you cannot be away from your children, and as a mother, I agree with you completely. In addition, it is important for you to be there for them. As you said, your ex-husband will not let the children go to your parent’s home with you, so I believe you have no other choice. Children who don’t grow up in a loving environment with their parents tend to have more emotional problems, anxiety, and depression. [Sara McLanahan, the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study]

Also, if you take this option, the children will see their father more. Boys who don’t grow up with a good man as their role model, especially one who loves them unconditionally, may end up as a boy adrift. [see Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men]. It is just as important to have a father in a child’s life, as a mother.

Girls need a father’s presence just as much as boys do. Research has shown a link between early puberty in girls and an absent biological father. Please see the article below:
Early Female Puberty Linked To Absent Biological Father

My feeling is that your parents have noble intentions by offering to take care of you because they love you unconditionally. Be kind to them and explain to them that you could give your children a better life by giving them access to both their parents and their half-siblings. You could ask your parents to be the best grandparents they can be, and promise to regularly visit them, call them and help them.

I pray that you find success in your situation. Ask Allah to help you by praying the Prayer of Seeking Guidance (istikhara) and the Prayer of Need (salat al-haja).

Please don’t hesitate to follow up with any questions.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqida, 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.