Problematic parents

Parents are the people you can’t live with and quite literally can’t be alive without. Just because they brought you into this earth, it doesn’t mean you always agree with, or even like, them. If you’re struggling to work out how to deal with problematic parents, here’s our guide on how to get on under one roof.

A young man is eating. He is looking up how to deal with problematic parents. This is a wide-angle image.

Problem 1: They treat me like a kid

How to deal with problematic parents who think you’re still a kid? So, it’s been a long time since you last had scabs on your knees and fish fingers for tea, but sometimes it’s hard for parents to accept that you’re no longer a kid. Tensions can easily rise when you’re keen to enjoy the independence you deserve, but they still insist on having you home by 9pm.

Solution: It’s tempting to think you can simply tell your parents that you’re all grown up and all your problems will go away. Unfortunately, you have to actually show it through your behaviour, and let them draw their own conclusions. It really boils down to a sense of responsibility. This means proving that you’ve earned the right to make your own decisions in life because you’re capable of thinking things through.

Problem 2: We fight all the time

It’s easy to feel agitated when surrounded by family. You’ve shared so much in life, and learned to relate to one another with no sense of hesitation or shyness. The upside of the closeness is that you tend to be honest with each other. The downside is that tempers can flare if you’re feeling cooped up.

Solution: Being able to loose your cool with your family means you’re comfortable with each other. In many ways, it’s a healthy sign that problems can be sorted. The key to dealing with difficult parents is to draw on your communication skills. Talk it out in advance, rather than blowing up when things don’t go your way. Sit down, stay calm and identify your triggers. By having a rational convo and finding some common ground, you can agree on a way forward that doesn’t end in slamming doors and an angry parent.

Problem 3: I get no privacy

In a place of your own, you could eat breakfast wearing nothing but socks, whistle away on the loo with the door wide open, and enjoy an x-rated movie without any fear of being interrupted. In the family home, that kind of freedom is often hard to find, which can leave you feeling on edge.

Solution: Even if you’re sharing a bedroom, it’s still possible to establish boundaries. Everyone has a right to some personal space, after all. So lead by example and show respect for the privacy of those around you. Also choose a good time to discuss the issue, and agree on some ground rules for everyone to follow.

Problem 4: I want to bring someone home for the night

Whether you’ve been seeing each other for a while, or it’s someone you’ve just met and you’re hoping to get lucky, letting someone stay the night is often problematic for parents. And it isn’t just the fact that they’re trying to get some shuteye in the next room. Most parents simply want to think of sleepovers as involving popcorn and chick flicks and won’t be told otherwise.

Solution: Forward thinking is the key here. Just creeping up the stairs with someone on your arm and a condom in your pocket doesn’t say much for your planning skills. No matter how embarrassing a conversation might be, it’s vital that you talk things through long before the night in question, and establish some rules. Even if they don’t respond well at the beginning, stress that you’re clued up on safe sex and leave it at that. It may not get instant results, but this show of maturity can only help the situation.

Problem 5: My parents embarrass me

Chances are most people can name 101 times when a parent left them feeling speechless with shame. Probably something to do with their music taste, or the way they still call you baby nicknames. Then again, your parents can also reel off plenty of incidents when your idiotic behaviour left them wishing the ground would swallow them whole.

Solution: If your parents accept you as an individual, then aim to do the same with them. Even if there are aspects about their lifestyle, dress sense or behaviour that you find cringe-worthy, it’s healthy to respect their individuality. Plus, if you make a big fuss then people will think it’s you who has the problem, not your parents.

Share your experience dealing with difficult parents

Pretty much everyone has to figure out how to deal with problematic parents from time to time. Why not share your experience on our Discussion Boards? You’ll find there are plenty of young people who have been in similar situations to yourself.

And if you need more advice, read our article on living with parents here.

Next Steps

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 28-Nov-2021