How to Manage the Joint Family Crisis and Its Effect on My Sons?

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question

I have two boys who are 3 years old. I live in a joint family with my sister-in-law who has two older boys. They have behavior issues like hitting everyone and screaming. They especially hit my boys whenever they get a chance. Can you please give me a dua to protect my kids from their aggression?

Answer

I empathize with your difficult situation; this is not right by any means and your children are in harm’s way. I can give you some duas, but you must do more.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

Try to Move Out

Living in a joint family system is difficult and it is not meant for all families. Sit with your husband and ask yourselves if you can move out. What would be the benefits and disadvantages? Is this the right time to go or should you move later? Come up with a plan because living with non-mahram men in the house is also a hardship, and this can impede the upbringing of your children and your ability to serve your family.

Please see these links for more detail:
My Brother-In-Law Is Violent. Do I Have the Right to Move Out?
A Wife’s Right to Housing Separate From Her In-Laws

Talk to Your Sister-in-Law

Whether you decide to move or not, you must sit down with her immediately and discuss the situation. You have to be polite, yet firm, and tell her that you want to come up with a plan to deal with her boys’ aggression. It will no longer be tolerated. Tell her that your husband is insisting on this, too. (Do talk to him too!) You can try anything from time-outs to deprivation of a privilege, to a firm holding down of the boy’s hands, while getting down to his eye level and telling him, “I won’t let you hit him, it hurts.”

See the following link for more useful ideas:
If Gentle Discipline Isn’t Working, This Might Be the Reason

If Talking Doesn’t Work

In the worst-case scenario, that is if your sister-in-law doesn’t help you, you will have to take the matter into your own hands. Tell the boys yourself that you will take away their toys if they hit. Keep the children in your room more often with the door locked and take your boys out on your own more often. Another approach is to involve all the boys in listening to Islamic stories of good character and discipline, involving them in gentle, quiet play like coloring and building, and all in all, encouraging quieter and peaceful games at home.

Last but Not Least-Deen and Duas

Most importantly, do not expect your home to be trouble-free if you are not fulfilling Allah’s obligations. Be sure that your family is praying five times a day, fasting, paying zakat on time, eating only the halal, and that the ladies are covering when they leave the house. Read some Quran every day with the meaning, be an example of good character, honesty, patience, generosity, and serving neighbors, the poor, the needy, and family. Through all this good, you will Insha Allah, see good come to you as well. 

You will find these 15 duas perfectly suited for your needs and the children’s needs. May Allah give you success and well-being.

Please check the link:
Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long

[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.