Expert chat with LeapCC: Parent problems

A young woman is chatting to an expert about problematic parents. This is a wide-angle image.

Having an honest conversation with parents often isn't easy.

Conflict expert Carey from the charity LeapCC talks to The Mix and our readers about how to deal with parent problems. Do your mum and dad argue a lot? Do they shout at you? Read on to see what she has to say.

Lindsey: When my mood drops it’s obvious. Let’s be clear,  I know when I’m grumpy. But my parents see that I’m moody and start trying to tease me or make me laugh. That honestly just winds me up until I snap. I try so hard to control how I’m feeling but it’s like they keep going and then I start pinching myself or digging my nails in, secretly of course. I feel like they should understand me better (even though I haven’t told them what’s wrong) and I’m not sure what to do.

Carey: Everyone gets grumpy, it’s totally normal. It would be great to think about ways your parents can support you when you’re feeling that way. It sounds like there’s a lot of misunderstanding going on between what you need and what your parents think you need. Try to have an open conversation with them and give them a chance to understand where you’re coming from.

Jessica: I live at home with my Mum and younger sister. My Mum suffers from depression and we have lots of arguments. I get angry quite easily and would love to not get so wound up by things so easily? If I’m feeling low, things tend to get worse, but I don’t think it’s fair on my little sister. She doesn’t need to listen to arguments.

Carey: What does your Mum do or say that makes you feel angry?

Jessica: I think it’s more about how she’s feeling. For example, recently she has been under a lot of stress, and is starting to take it out on me. Like she called me heartless the other day and stuff, she just shouts all the time. She’s honestly filled with so much hurt and anger, which ends up getting directed at me.

Carey: I’m sorry you have to go through that, it sounds really tough. It’s a challenge when your Mum has a mental illness. Rest assured, these emotions you’re experiencing are completely normal. Trying to interrupt your thoughts before you get angry – like breathe or count 1 to 10 – can help a lot. Sounds simple enough, but it’s pretty difficult to do when your emotions are high.

Jessica: I could try that, it could help… I feel so wound up in the moment, and then I immediately  feel bad afterwards.

Carey: I would imagine she is not angry with you – she just needs to vent her frustration. As tough as it sounds, you need to distance yourself from her emotions. This is her struggle, not yours. Remember, just because she’s your mum doesn’t mean you have to feel everything she’s feeling or even spend a lot of time with her, if it’s damaging your mental health.

Alex: Sometimes when I have a bicker with mum I go down afterwards and give her a hug to break the awkwardness. That really helps and I feel better.

Carey: Exactly Alex – a bit of space and time can help us think more clearly

Flora: I struggle when my mum complains to me about my dad and my dad complains to me about my mum! There’s only so much I can take. It just makes me angry and I end up snapping at my dad. I hate arguing but I just don’t know how to make the relationship better. I know I shouldn’t get so angry but this isn’t my problem to solve. I’m old enough to handle this at least, but I hide most things from my sister since I don’t want to hurt her.

Carey: Sounds like you are stuck in the middle Flora, and that’s a really tough place to be. In case you needed to hear this, it’s not your fault if your parents are fighting.

Flora: I don’t have a great relationship with my mum at all and it’s not actually possible for me to. I have many times with my dad, but he needs to let it out sometimes so I get it! It’s just hard cause, like you said, I’m in the middle.

Helen: Flora, if you did feel comfortable suggesting some confidential online support to your dad, he could try the couple connection – they have forums and an online chat for older people

Carey: Do you think you and your sister are safe?

Flora: Yeah, we’re safe, cause we have each other and church to go to and stuff.

Carey: I am glad that you and your sister are safe. It sounds like you have some strategies like the church. It’s always important to talk to others as it can make things feel easier. Sometimes when we feel powerless in a situation it’s hard to think of something different to do or say. Getting a new perspective really helps to figure out next steps.

Liz: With my mother and my father, I’ve noticed that I’ve been at the centre of a lot of the fights that they have. It’s normally over the silliest thing.. Like coming in 5 mins late from work would just end up in a fight. I’m getting used to it gradually, but my younger sisters are struggling– they hate seeing all the fights and stuff. They’re even starting to pick up on some of the stuff that Mum and Dad say to me and are saying it themselves.

Carey: Liz – this is challenging for anyone. Why do you think they argue about you?

Liz: Cause I do things wrong apparently, even being in my room causes a fight.

Carey: Sometimes when a conflict seems to be about something little, it’s because there is something else underneath that we don’t know about or understand. What tends to happen in these situations?

Liz: A recent example is that my mother asked me for money but I didn’t have any cause I’ve been working all week so it went on buses and that. This then caused her to scream at me, and saying she was gonna throw me out again…

Carey: That sounds really difficult – you must be tired after work and travelling. Do you have an arrangement about giving her some money?

Liz: Nope, she just demands it off me and says that if I don’t give her it then she’s throwing me out, which she had done in the past. I just want to be like everyone else, but I’m stuck supporting my family… which I don’t mind doing for now. I just don’t want it to always end up this way.

Carey: If you can put your point of view across to your parents clearly with an explanation it can help. Good luck. You’re doing a great job.

Helen: Hey guys, as a few of you have been talking about problematic parents, just want to share our article on The Mix about dealing with problematic parents.

Carey: Okay thanks for your questions tonight – you can look at the LeapCC website. We run courses in London for young people who have conflicts in their lives.

Next Steps

  • Go to Leap to search for conflict resolution training courses in and around London.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By The Mix Staff

Updated on 06-Dec-2022