I've become a Muslim 3 years ago, alhamdulellah. My problem is that my Christian mother is interfering to a great extent in the way I raise my children. She is a devout Christian who goes to Church almost every day and all her life is based on Christ and Christianity. What irritates me most is that she tells my sons all the time that Jesus is God and I argued with her a lot about this. She also feeds them pork although I told her many times not to do so. I'm really frustrated about all this and don't know how to strike a balance between my relationship with my mother and raising my children as good Muslims. Please help.


Salam Fatema,
Welcome to Islam and thank you for your question.

Many of us have a battle of wills with their parents when it comes to raising children of our own. The grandparents’ frame of reference is what they did to raise us thirty or forty years ago, whereas we naturally have our own vision for how our children should be brought up to cope with our modern world. If we also add conflict of religious beliefs to the situation, it becomes potentially explosive, so I totally understand your frustration.

Before we go any further into your specific situation, let’s remind ourselves that Islam puts very high value on respecting and honoring parents, especially mothers, regardless of whether or not they’re Muslim. Islam also stresses respect to “people of the book”; followers of other monotheistic religions who are following a book God had sent with one of His messengers.

However, those terms of respect are granted as long as they don’t compromise our own beliefs and religious practices. When the two clash, we’re instructed to distance ourselves from the compromising situation, without severing the ties of kinship, and while maintaining all due respect both to the other person, and to his/her religious beliefs as well.

Freedom of belief in Islam is a basic human right and a free choice. This right is established by the verse of the Quran that states: “There is no compulsion in religion”. So, just as we are not supposed to impose our own beliefs and practices on others, we should also expect an equal measure of respect for our religious beliefs and practices in return. Being kind or respectful to others doesn’t mean we are obliged to accept their religious beliefs being imposed on us.

In that context, what your mother is doing is wrong because she is forcing her beliefs on your children, while it doesn’t seem from your message that you had tried to impose Islam on her at all, and I commend you for that.

You didn’t mention why your mother is spending so much time with your kids though? Are you living with her or leaving them in her care daily while you go to work for example? This is the first root cause of the problem to rectify. The wellbeing of our children should be a top priority for us. Selecting someone to care for them in our absence should be based on a strict set of specific criteria related to the level of competence of that individual.

Our children are our responsibility in front of God as Muslims, and so we should only entrust them to caretakers who would enforce our beliefs and values and contribute to their stability and wellbeing under our supervision. In that context, family members are not necessarily the most suited people to care for our children in our absence, if they lack the necessary criteria. And more so if their influence confuses the children or destroys what we teach them according to our values. In addition, children’s diet in general is the mother’s responsibility, and anyone caring for them in her absence should follow her rules of nutrition, not impose their own.
Perhaps the first step to resolving your situation is considering an alternative plan to leaving your kids with your mother, whether by moving out to live on your own or finding them a daycare center near your work, examine all the details and settle on a feasible course of action.

Then before you do anything, sit for a calm and matured discussion with your mother to inform her of your plan, and explain to her the reasons that made you consider that option and that you’re serious in carrying it out unless she keeps her beliefs to herself, just as you’re keeping your beliefs to yourself, otherwise you will move out or put the kids in daycare. Then give her one last chance to adjust her attitude and monitor the situation closely. Unless you see swift positive changes, you have every right to do what it takes to protect your children from suffering a clash of beliefs in their young age.

Let me remind you again that all this should be done with genuine respect and love. Try not to start an argument or a shouting marathon with your mother, and make sure the children are not around to hear your discussion. Please remember that both of you love the same little ones and are only trying to find the best way of caring for them.
May Allah always guide you to do what’s best.

Salam and please keep in touch.