How to Manage Fights with Parents

This is a hard thing to do!  Here are some ideas which can help.

Step 1. ASK QUESTIONS AND FIND OUT EXACTLY WHAT IS BOTHERING THEM

  • Is it X or Y?
  • Are you upset because I did X?
  • Are you feeling annoyed because of Z?

Listen really carefully and get to the bottom of exactly why they are upset.

Remember that hurt, embarrassment or fear is often underneath anger and frustration. See if you can identify what your parents feel hurt, embarrassed or worried about. Don’t necessarily tell them this – it just helps you understand.

Step 2.   REFLECT BACK

  • “Okay, it seems like you are annoyed because of this, and because of this.”
  • “So is this right: you are not letting me do this because of A, B and C?”

Parents will keep on and on unless they really feel like you get it. They won’t move on until you show them that you really really understand.

Step 3. APOLOGISE (even before you feel absolutely sorry, just apologise, it makes it heaps better)

  • Okay, maybe I was a bit out of line, sorry about that.
  • Its probably kind of true, I was a bit ...

Step 4. PUT YOUR POINT OF VIEW FORWARD (give as much detail as possible)

  • I felt kind of (hurt, annoyed, upset, worried) when this happened …

Use “I” statements.

Look for your own hurt, embarrassment or fear underneath your anger/frustration and share that if you can. Parents often respond better to sentences that go “I feel worried about X because and etc etc” than sentences that go “I’m so mad about X etc etc”.

Step 5. COMPROMISING

Try and help your parents feel that you are safe, that they are in control, and that you respect them. This is the three parental “needs” – to nurture, protect and teach. If you give your parents opportunities to do all 3 of these things with you, it makes life much easier.

  • What about if we did X
  • What would make you feel better about me doing Y
  • If I did Z, would that help …

The last point; get some help. This is hard to do. Talk to others about how they manage the fights with their parents, talk to a teacher, school counsellor, relative, older friend or whoever.  The more you talk about this, the more information and ideas you get. Good luck.

Copyright 2006 Kirrilie Smout.  Please feel free to use this article with the following acknowledgement "Kirrilie Smout, Psychologist, www.innovateonline.net"