Relationships with parents or guardians aren’t always easy. Things can get particularly difficult as you grow up and start to discover who you are and begin to make your own choices in life. You may not understand everything your parents do, and similarly, they may also struggle to understand you sometimes.
Common causes of problems between parents or guardians and children can include relationships or sexuality, your gender identity, your choices around school or college, your choice of career, or religious and political views. In some cases, it is possible to move on from these things, but in others, it can be hard to look past your differences.
How to get along with your parents
Here are some ways you can try to improve the relationship with your parent or guardian:
Talk to one another
A problem cannot be fixed without talking about it. Pick a time when you are both calm, then sit down and talk about the issue. Make a rule that you will not interrupt each other when you are talking, otherwise you will never get anywhere. Trying to talk it out rather than shouting at each other or refusing to talk about it can help you to come to a compromise, or can at least bring you one step closer to understanding each other.
Avoid “You” statements and instead use “I” statements such as “I would like to stay out past 10pm on a Friday, as I feel that I would be able to be responsible” instead of “Why can’t you let me stay out past 10pm on a Friday?”
Show your parents how much you care about them
Having arguments with your parents can be frustrating and you may be feeling upset, angry, or even lonely within your family. As time goes on it may feel easier to simply distance yourself from your parents. However, if you really care about your parents and want to have a relationship with them, it’s worth letting them know that. As you grow and change they may be scared that you no longer care about them – show them that’s not true.
Give your parents time. They may just need time to come round to your idea, decision, choice, or identity, so it’s important to let them know that you will always be willing to have a relationship with them. Try to help them to understand the situation, and point them towards places where they can get more information about what’s going on for you, whether it’s to do with your sexuality or identity, a change in course or career, or something else they might not know a lot about.
Nothing I do improves my relationship with my parents
If you feel that you can’t resolve a fight with your parents, remember that they almost certainly still love you, they just cannot cope with your life choice for reasons of their own. Even though they love you some space from each other may be what you need until you can see eye to eye.
If you feel you and your parents cannot resolve your arguments by yourselves it may be a good idea to attend a counselling service either as individuals or together. Find out more about counselling and find a list of counsellors on the IACP website.
There are some arguments that can be harder to get past or forgive than others. If your parent or parents won’t accept your gender or sexual identity it can be extremely hurtful and create a difficult environment to live in. If you are experiencing a situation like this there are services that are there to support young LGBTI+ people such as BeLonGTo and Teni.
If things get really bad and you can no longer live under the same roof as your parents, remember that you have rights. Find out about accessing emergency accommodation.