Rebellious Son Threatens to Leave the House

16 July, 2020
Q My son just turned 20. He is rebellious and does not follow Islamic teachings. He is involved in non-Islamic/ Haram habits even though I try to make understand to not do it.

He doesn't listen to me. He just brought pet dog in our house and when I asked him to take her back to the pet shelter, he threatened to leave home and move away.

I don't want him to move as at least I can guide him about Islam whenever I get a chance when he is at home with me.

What should I do? Let him leave? Plus he is very irresponsible so I am afraid he can't take care of the pet and she would get hurt accidentally. Please guide me in this matter.

Answer

In this counseling answer:

•I kindly suggest dear sister that instead of trying to parent your rebellious son , try to befriend him.

• Gain his trust, he may discuss with you what is causing him to engage in haram behaviors.

• If  you cannot reach your son for whatever reason, perhaps he does need to move out.

• Try to use the different approaches with your son by acting as a friend instead of a mom.

• This may take time to build up to, but offering an open communication based on a “friendship” type of relationship may provide him with the platform he needs to begin to trust that he can open up.

•Help him to open up more, take responsibility and feel accountable for his actions.


As-salamu alaikum sister,

Thank you for writing into us. You indicated that your son who just turned 20 is rebellious son and does not follow Islamic teachings.

Rebellious Behaviors

Rebellious behaviors usually surface when one is a pre to mid-teen. During this phase, young people usually seek to find their identity by trying new and different things and experimenting with different lifestyles. Often these are against Islamic teachings.

This phase does not always last long and usually results in the young person returning to Islam. In your son’s case, 20 years old seems a bit late for a developmentally related phase of rebelliousness.

Emotional Status and Maturity

Sister, I am wondering how long your son has been acting in this manner. If it has been years, perhaps it did start in his teens and just continued.

At this age your son is an adult and is responsible to Allah for his choices. Your son was raised with Islamic values and he does know the correct path and Islamic foundations for life. However, as you stated, he is rather irresponsible.

Sister it is quite possible that he is still emotionally immature and has not developed solid cognitive abilities regarding decision-making and judgment. People do develop at different rates depending on a multiple of variables.

Rebellious Son Threatens to Leave the House - About Islam

Responsibility

Your son sounds like he has a good heart sister. He brought a dog home wanting to take care of it. That may show that he does care and has a nurturing spirit.

I understand you fear that he will not take care of the pet and it may get hurt. On the other hand, by being responsible for a pet may help him to develop a deeper appreciation for life and its responsibilities, including his own.

The Parent as a Friend

You stated that your son is involved in non-Islamic, haram habits. I am not sure to what extent he has left Islam but given his possible lag in maturity, perhaps he needs further guidance. Islamically, at age 20, parents are to be more of a friend to their children than parents.

This may be difficult, because as parents it may be hard to let loose on the role of only being the parent figure. When children reach adulthood, it means that we have come to a phase in life wherein our impact as their friend may be more effective than as a parent.

I kindly suggest dear sister that instead of trying to parent him, try to befriend him. If you can befriend him and gain his trust, he may discuss with you what is causing him to engage in haram behaviors.

This may take time to build up to, but offering an open communication based on a “friendship” type of relationship may provide him with the platform he needs to begin to trust that he can open up.

This doesn’t mean you stop being his mom or parent. This also doesn’t mean you agree with him nor condone his behaviors. It just means you take a different approach in trying to help guide him.

Sister, from this position, you may be able to help him more than from a platform of a parent. Children naturally know that as parents we love them.

However, when we back off of the parent role and treat the child who is now an adult- as an adult, we may be able to assist them in seeing the importance of their decisions.

As a “friend “you would have different expectations and limitations. As a result Insha’Allah, this may build a sense of accountability and responsibility on your son’s part.


Check out this counseling video


If all Else Fails

If you are at a point sister where you cannot reach your son for whatever reason, perhaps he does need to move out.

I know this hurts and it can be very scary, however, he is 20 and he is using the threat of leaving home to do things that he wants which are against your wishes.

I would kindly suggest insha’Allah that you do take him up on his offer if all else fails. Perhaps moving out would offer him a chance to experience the realities which he takes for granted. He may find that all of your advises and guidance was correct after all.

Conclusion

Insha’Allah sister, try to use the different approach with your son. By acting as friend instead of mom, insha’Allah you will help him to open up more, take responsibility and feel accountable for his actions.

Insha’Allah, your son will soon find out that the path of Islam is the one that leads to success. Should he choose to leave sister, please do know that you have done everything to help your son.

Maybe by leaving, he will “grow up” and take Islam seriously. It is not easy being on your own, but perhaps that is the lesson he needs. Allah knows best.

May Allah bless you and guide you both.

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.