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IslamQA: The responsibility of the oldest child in Islam toward their family

Salaam. Brother, I want to ask you something. Does the eldest child have to be the backbone of the family? What if the eldest child is a girl and both her parents are still working, and her siblings are still students, what does Islam say regarding this and what are your personal opinion about women being the breadwinner? Thank you for your time.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

There is no special legal obligation on the oldest child. A non-legal obligation may arise from their situation; for example the oldest child may be in a position to help the younger children and take care of them in some ways, this is a moral rather than legal obligation and would apply equally to both males and females and carrying it out would be an act of charity, while not doing it may or may not be sinful.

Children, however, have a legal obligation to financially take care of their elderly parents according to their ability and applies to both male and female children.

Additionally, males have a legal duty to financially take care of their needy sisters and other female relatives that they would inherit from in case of the female person’s death. But this is a matter of disagreement among the scholars.

Regarding women being breadwinners: if this is something that they arrange with their spouses/families then there is no issue with it. A woman’s earnings that go to her family would be considered charity since it is not her duty to earn money (while for a man it is a legal duty).

Sources:

And God knows best.
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Muhammad Chenia
Muhammad Chenia
1 year ago

My eldest son is 27yrs of age…
I and my wife have recently separated and my whole family regard it as my fault! I have 3 adult children,18 yrs and above. However, their position is inconsistent with Islamic teachings based on the wife’s obedience towards her husband. That is to be polite and to take a secondary role in the direction the husband desires to take.
This has been a long-standing grievance in our marriage of 30yrs…
During our separation, I have asked my two sons to counsel their mum and particularly to avoid 3rd party involvement as they are old enough to mediate and resolve the issues. They are aligned with their mum that is obvious, stating that it is a 50/50 partnership. Also, I fully accept that they have to be supportive of their mum and that their hearts should give her the necessary emotional support. (In this regard I have forwarded both my son’s guidance from Islamweb.net about “Obeying The Husband Is The Key To Paradise” )…
However, surely my eldest sons role in this is also to mediate on right from wrong and lean towards his dad when necessary. After stating that it is my fault he has taken a position that he doesn’t want to get involved anymore for having to take sides. That is an odd stance to take because surely his objective must be for his parents to be reunited…
THAT IS WHY I ENQUIRE ABOUT WHAT THE ROLE OF A MATURE MALE SHOULD BE IN PARENTAL DISPUTES IN ORDER THAT I CAN FORWARD THE GUIDANCE TO HIM AND SECURE HIS ASSISTANCE RATHER THAN 3RD PARTIES INVOLVEMENT.
I/a your assistance will be appreciated.
JZK