How Can I Be a Dutiful Son While Maintaining Independence from Controlling Parents?
Answered by Ustadha Jameela Jafri
Question: I wish to be a good son and fulfill my responsibilities. However I feel overwhelmed by my parents approach towards me. I feel I cannot be independent and live my own life and that my parents expect too much from me. How can I be a good son yet also be independent while respecting my parents wishes?
If I set boundaries and do things I want to won’t that be disobeying them because they want me to do things their way and they want to be informed about everything? How can I do what I want to knowing that if i try to set boundaries and do my own thing it will result in arguments. Can I accept the arguments and still just carry on as I want to?
I am young and in my twenties but this is causing me to feel very stressed, with low self esteem and weak. I just wish to make my own choices and live my own life while being a good son.
My parents being staunch promoters of the Asian full extended family system where there is lots of involvement by parents and siblings in everything and you have to simply follow this without question I expect these issues to worsen. Please advise me.
Answer: Assalam alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh
Thank you for your question. May Allah Most High facilitate ease and success in your life.
With regards to one’s parents, the general situation is that they are to be obeyed and followed in all permissible matters. One should be mindful of ensuring the highest respect and honor towards one’s parents. Allah Most High says, “We have enjoined upon man to be good and dutiful to his parents” (29:8).
It is important for you to maintain this high respect and dutifulness to your parents, while also making space for yourself to grow and make your own choices. There are some matters where it is important and natural for a person – especially a man who will have his own family one day, inshAllah – to exercise control and independence. These includes finances, personal time, private space, etc. As you mention, it is important to have some boundaries in these matters.
As you develop these boundaries, it is important to but to do so in a way that maintains kindness and respect to your parents. This will require you to be emotionally intelligent about their need to be involved in your life. You may need to overcompensate in some areas to balance these needs. Your parents may feel, for example, that you are pulling away from them as you try to assert your independence. Ease their fears by spending more time with them, calling them regularly, or buying them gifts, to the extent possible.
In today’s time, it is a great blessing to have caring parents and a family network – particularly for someone who is still in his early twenties. Your parents will be a source of continued blessings for you in this life and the next, inshAllah. Keep this in mind as you develop your boundaries with them and always maintain positive relationships. There are many people who have complete independence over their personal and financial affairs, but wish that they had an extended family system to provide guidance and advice. In times of difficulty, it is your parents and siblings that will support you.