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Relationships with parents

relationships; parent; conflict; youth; teenagers; teens; negotiation;

Getting on with your parents can sometimes be a challenge when you are young. You may think differently to your parents, and have different values and beliefs, which can lead to conflict at home or breakdowns in communication. Try talking it out, following some of the tips below. If this doesn’t work, professional advice could help.

Contents


Why there is conflict

As a young child your parents were the leaders of the family. As a teenager or young adult, you want to be more independent and think and speak for yourself. This can be hard for parents to get used to. Parents can also continue to be protective of you, and want to influence what you do and how you do it. Ultimately this is because they want what is best for you, but this can feel overbearing.

It may take a while to learn how to speak up about what you want without upsetting your parents. And if you are upset or irritable, you might be less tolerant of your parents and their wishes.

Working it out

If you can work out your differences with your parents, you can have a good relationship. Here are a few tips:

  • Be respectful when discussing any areas of disagreement.
  • Be willing to listen to your parent's view.
  • Stay calm.
  • Be non-blaming, don't accuse.
  • Stick to the issue - don't get side tracked into other areas.
  • Use a team approach to working out problems - work at it together, think about what you want in common and work out together how you can get there.
  • Use a problem solving model like this one:
    • Decide together exactly what the problem is.
    • Brainstorm the possible solutions - be open and creative.
    • Think out the consequences of each possible solution.
    • Choose one idea and do it.
    • Did it work? If so, congratulate yourself and each other. If not, go back to step 2 and try another idea.

Try out the above ideas but if it's hard to learn conflict resolution and problem solving just by reading it, see if someone can help you. It may be your school counsellor, community health worker or there may be groups running in your local area that can help.
These tools can be used in any conflict situation, not just with your parents. They can be used with grandparents, foster parents, and step-parents or residential care staff and friends. You could try some ideas and tips from our topic Conflict and negotiation.

Communication

One of the most important skills in communication is listening. If a person feels properly listened to, they feel understood and less alone because someone has taken the time to care. Take time to listen to your parents, and ask them to listen to what you are saying. Try to have conversations at a good time, when everyone is calm and relaxed. It is not OK for young people to be abusive to parents. Being abusive won't convince them you are right - it is more likely to have the opposite effect.

It gets better

As you move through adolescence and into young adulthood, your relationships with your parents seem to get better. Parents can be some of your best supports, supporting young people through the good times and the bad.
Note: Some young people may have parents who act in an abusive way, rather than simply being strict. If this is the case for you, seek advice. Your local child welfare agency can offer advice and/or assistance. You can phone anonymously for advice if this would be more helpful.

Resources

South Australia

  • Child Abuse Report Line 13 1478 (24 hours, 7days).
  • The Youth Health Service
    - Central: 57 Hyde St, Adelaide
    - South: 50a Beach Rd, Christies Beach
    - North: 6 Gillingham Rd, Elizabeth
  • Shop Front Youth Health and Information Service: (08) 8281 1775.

Australia

  • Reach Out, an Australian online youth mental health service.
  • Kids Helpline, a counselling service for Australian children and young people aged between 5 and 25 years.
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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).
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