Religion is different for everyone, and it’s entirely up to us how we choose to practice.
But what happens when you’re a teenager, and you’ve got parents telling you what to do?
One young woman struggled with this on the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Fickle_Pop123456 found herself trying to find a line between what her parents wanted and what her religion mandated.
Lost, the Original Poster (OP) reached out, asking:
“AITA for refusing to take my Hijab off when my step-mom asked me to?”
The OP has struggled through her parents’ divorce.
“I (15 [Female]) am a child of divorce and stuck in the middle of two feuding parents.”
“My mom is Muslim while my dad converted from Christianity to Islam but now converted back to being Christian, so you can imagine how challenging that was.”
“I grew up in a fairly happy household until my dad cheated with my now step-mom and that’s when everything went downhill.”
“My parents went to court seeking divorce but not without nastiness from both sides. I got stuck in the middle over and over again by parents wanting me to testify.”
“They finally divorced and my dad remarries to my stepmom and god it was horrible. She came with 3 boys who were all horrible to me.”
The OP’s stepmother criticized her beliefs.
“I wear the hijab and in Islam, there is a list of who can and can’t see my hair. On that list of who can’t are my stepbrothers, [and] this has lead to tension in the house.”
“My stepmother who is Christian can’t seem to understand and is making backhanded remarks about me wearing the hijab all the time. It’s gone as far as threatening to kick me out or saying she’ll convince my father to never see me again.”
“She is taking this as a sign that I don’t like them, which is sort of true, [but] not related to this in any way.”
“My father is doing nothing to back me up and at this point, I’m really losing my mental health.”
The stepmother has made multiple demands.
“This is not the first time she’s tried to make me do something that’s against my religion.”
“She took my prayer mat away and coincidentally didn’t tell me a dish she was making had pork in it.”
“I’m so tired of the tension and constant remarks. I could just take my hijab off and save myself from so much misery but on one hand, I feel so guilty and on the other hand, I don’t want to disappoint my father.”
The OP later added a note about her living situation.
“For those asking why I can’t stay with my mom, she is a medical aid worker currently deployed overseas in an active war zone.”
“Pre-pandemic I would stay with my grandparents when she wasn’t here, but with [the virus], I don’t want to risk it.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some firmly suggested the OP move in full-time with her grandparents.
“Go stay with your grandparents, just take required precautions. Ensure good hygiene and hand washing when you leave the house.”
“You can wear a mask, etc… and even change clothes after going out to any areas of concern.”
“People are staying with immuno-compromised family just fine, you just have to ensure you take all safety measures you can. Ensure you clean any areas you touch when returning home, do your own washing, and keep your distance until you tidy yourself up when you get home from anywhere.”
“It sounds like a lot, but it’s not really (you establish and get used to a routine), and it’d be better than living with an abusive adult.” – Permit-Extreme-117
“Yeah, I think your mental health and over all well being is worth going to your grandparents. Living in that environment is not at all good for a young woman.”
“Your step mother isn’t making backhanded remarks, she’s being absolutely racist and your father doesn’t have the backbone to stand up for you. I’m sorry your father has put you in such a toxic environment. NTA.” – cutelittleh**lbeast
“I second this – OP is NTA, and with proper precautions, the grandparents would be a far better option, and I’m sure they would be delighted. Also, I’m not sure if courts would agree, but this seems like terribly abusive behaviour to me that should possibly be brought to someone’s attention…?”
“So sorry you’re having to deal with this essentially alone OP. I know your mother cannot be there for you right now, but are you at least keeping her apprised of the situation? She needs to know what’s happening, even if she cannot physically be there right now.” – koshka42
“Remember that the quarantine and distancing measures are to ensure the health of the people, [and] you have to ensure you’re own health as well, both physical and mental health.”
“Your dad cares more about his wife and you need a loving environment. Follow safety guidelines and move with the grandparents. You can keep them safe whiteout risking your mental health, and if anything, keep record of all the s**t your dad’s new family is pulling, so you can limit your stay with him in the future” – Tandel21
Others agreed and said her father and stepmother were disrespectful of her beliefs.
“Forcing a religiously devout Muslim to remove their hijab in public is akin to asking a regular person to take off clothes amongst strangers in the open.”
“And tricking them into eating pork when it conflicts with their religious beliefs is akin to forcing a Buddhist vegetarian into eating red meat.” – lilpanda20
“NTA that is horrendous I’m so sorry that you have to endure this vile woman and your father is spineless.” – foppish_aplomb
“I’m so sorry. Her and your father are terrible people and terrible Christians to put you through this and disrespect your feelings and beliefs this way. You’re NTA of course.”
“I personally, as a Christian myself would point them towards Romans 12:18 – ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.’ They should spend a little more time reflecting on that and a little less time treating you with disrespect for no good reason I can see.” – both
“NTA. She’s being abusive and your dad is ok with that. Think about that for a minute before you worry about his feelings.”
“He is perfectly fine with his new wife abusing his daughter. This is not going to change unless he finally stands up for you.”
“I would talk to your mom about getting full custody and only having to see your dad alone because you’re clearly not safe with his wife.” – debt2set
Some also said the stepmother’s behavior was Islamophobic.
“I’m not Muslim but I am a Jew, and the issues are very similar for us. What she’s doing is wrong. She’s an islamophobic bigot.”
“Please see if it’s possible for your grandparents to be vaccinated and if it’s possible to live with them.”
“Having lived with an antisemite who acted very similarly (down to the sneaky pork) before I know what a toll this sort of constant bigotry can take. It’s always being on guard and terrified that someone is going to do or say something. Not even feeling safe existing in your own skin.”
“It’s not healthy. It wasn’t healthy for me and I was an adult in that situation.”
“Please tell your mother. She’s the adult. It is not your job to protect her, but hers to protect you. They will find a way.”
“I am so, so truly sorry. There is nothing quite so unfair as being made to feel unsafe existing in your own home.” – lowdiver
“NTA. This is abuse, and quite frankly Islamophobia as well, and you are not in the wrong at all.”
“I’m not Muslim so I don’t know really know what the repercussions, good or bad, are for taking a hijab off?? But I don’t think you should be forced to take it off just to appease your rotten avocado of a step mother.”
“When you can, talk to your dad alone and tell him what’s going on. If this escalates even more than it has, it could get really bad.”
“Make sure you have a way out too, can you stay at a friends? Or your mother’s place more often?” – TinyDwarfCat
“I grew up Muslim too but this is just giving into a woman who is on a power trip. She’s already had her prayer mat taken away and her food manipulated. It’s completely unsustainable.”
“Asking a hijabi to remove their hijab is putting them in such a vulnerable position.”
“I hope she can get to her grandparents.” – ayshasmysha
“If you want to wear your hijab, then wear your hijab. Step-mommy doesn’t get a say.”
“Also, if she wants to keep shitting on you for your religion, remind her that:”
“1: Adultery is an absolute no-no in Christianity,”
“2: Two of the main teachings/’rules’ in Christianity are ‘judge not lest ye be judged’, and ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’.”
“Given that Step-mommy dearest can’t follow the teachings of her own religion, she gets absolutely no say in how other people should observe their religions.”
“She’s not a Christian, she’s a hypocrite.” – emzbobo
The subReddit was definitely in agreement the OP deserved better than she was getting.