Family conflict with parents

Everyone has family conflict. There could be a number of causes, ranging from lack of communication to differences in values. There’s things you can do to stop the situation getting worse as well as good ways to talk about it. Sometimes you might just need to agree to disagree to be able to move forward. However, if you don’t feel safe or can’t resolve it on your own, get help.

This can help if:

  • You’re fighting with your parents/guardian
  • You want to know how to ease tension
  • You want to learn the best way to approach conflict
Sad girl looking down

What causes conflict?

Everyone disagrees with each other sometimes and occasional tension or arguments are part of family life. However, ongoing family conflict like arguments and tension can be stressful and overwhelming.

Common reasons people fight or argue with parents, guardians or carers are:

  • When your own opinions and values are different.
  • Misunderstanding each other, jumping to the wrong conclusions, or a lack of communication.
  • Wanting more independence than they're willing to give you.
  • Feeling that you're being treated like a kid or having them not respect your right to privacy. 
  • Changes in your family caused by separation, divorce, a new baby, moving house or even stuff like moving from a new country.
  • Expectations and pressure. You might feel pressure or high expectations from them about your friends, career/job, exams, chores, or even your hairstyle or the clothes you wear.

What you can do

  • Getting a different perspective can help you understand why there is conflict and work out the things that you might be able to do to improve the situation.
  • Count to 10 before responding. It might sound stupid, but walking away and counting to 10 gives you time to cool off, let anger go and come back with a more effective response.
  • Get some space. Although it doesn’t fix the conflict, it can be good to get some head space and avoid more arguments. Try exercising or chilling out with your mates.

Talking it out

Sitting down and talking about the situation usually looks stressful and impossible. But it will ease the tension if they see you are taking a 'mature' step – and you look better if you’re the first to do it. It’s the best way of sorting through issues and coming to an arrangement that works for all of you.

  • Try and find a time when no one is angry, upset, stressed or tired and somewhere you can sit without being interrupted.
  • Be willing to compromise and have a number of options you're willing to accept.
  • Don't make it personal. Try and avoid being sarcastic and making personal comments.
  • Be honest.
  • Listen to what they have to say and accept that their point of view might be as valid as yours.
  • Once a compromise is agreed, stick to it - this could even mean writing a contract that you both promise to stick to.
  • If talking to them seems impossible, maybe send an email or write a letter, explaining how you feel.

Agreeing to disagree

If you just can’t find a way to compromise and get past family conflict, you might find you have to 'agree to disagree'. You can have your own opinions, based on your own experience, beliefs and values - whether or not you accept your parents', guardians' or carers' views is up to you.

If you don’t feel safe

If you are concerned for your safety or feel like you’re in danger, go to our emergency help section to find out who can help. Remember that you don’t have to solve this conflict on your own. There are a number of services that can talk you through the best approach to your situation and help you work out a solution.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 06 November, 2015
Did you find this article helpful?

You have already rated this article

Add a comment

Read the commenting guidelines: keep ReachOut.com safe and respectful
 

7 Comments

  • spark    (120 days ago)

    This is super helpful, but what if the problem is a parent's personality... I'm not unsafe, but my mum behaves in a less mature way than me! She's always blaming everyone that isn't her (so mostly me) for things that are in no way my fault, and even her friends have noticed. and talked about it. She yells and screams and throws a tantrum over insanely minor issues and then accuses me of giving attitude when I have some sort of expression on my face or I ask her not to raise her voice (in which case she often tells me I'm escalating things). I'm in trouble constantly for being overly critical if I pick her up on more than one minor thing in an entire day or two, and when she's embarrassed, hurt, uncomfortable, frustrated, angry, cringing, sad, or undisciplined it's somehow my fault and I get screamed at. I'm struggling to cope and feeling sick every night because I can't vent to anyone and it's so shockingly illogical and unfair but she gets away with it anyway. I need help before I start tearing my hair out and one day scream back.

  • spark    (120 days ago)

    This is super helpful, but what if the problem is a parent's personality... I'm not unsafe, but my mum behaves in a less mature way than me! She's always blaming everyone that isn't her (so mostly me) for things that are in no way my fault, and even her friends have noticed. and talked about it. She yells and screams and throws a tantrum over insanely minor issues and then accuses me of giving attitude when I have some sort of expression on my face or I ask her not to raise her voice (in which case she often tells me I'm escalating things). I'm in trouble constantly for being overly critical if I pick her up on more than one minor thing in an entire day or two, and when she's embarrassed, hurt, uncomfortable, frustrated, angry, cringing, sad, or undisciplined it's somehow my fault and I get screamed at. I'm struggling to cope and feeling sick every night because I can't vent to anyone and it's so shockingly illogical and unfair but she gets away with it anyway. I need help before I start tearing my hair out and one day scream back.

  • spark    (120 days ago)

    This is super helpful, but what if the problem is a parent's personality... I'm not unsafe, but my mum behaves in a less mature way than me! She's always blaming everyone that isn't her (so mostly me) for things that are in no way my fault, and even her friends have noticed. and talked about it. She yells and screams and throws a tantrum over insanely minor issues and then accuses me of giving attitude when I have some sort of expression on my face or I ask her not to raise her voice (in which case she often tells me I'm escalating things). I'm in trouble constantly for being overly critical if I pick her up on more than one minor thing in an entire day or two, and when she's embarrassed, hurt, uncomfortable, frustrated, angry, cringing, sad, or undisciplined it's somehow my fault and I get screamed at. I'm struggling to cope and feeling sick every night because I can't vent to anyone and it's so shockingly illogical and unfair but she gets away with it anyway. I need help before I start tearing my hair out and one day scream back.

View more