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Talking With Your Parents

As you get older your relationships with family members may change, especially with your parents. For example, the more your parents ask about what is going on with you, the more you may want to keep to yourself. Or, the more advice you are given, the more you may think 'they have no idea'.

If you think back to just a few years earlier, you might remember feeling OK about talking with your parents, and wanting them to be interested and to help you with your problems.

So, what has changed? Why does talking with your parents feel so annoying or difficult?

Why has it changed?

Adolescence is a time of major change. You often start to develop your own ideas, and want to solve problems for yourself. You may also feel more confident and want to start exploring who you are and what you want from life. When this happens, it can take a while for you and your parents to adjust, and this can cause conflict.

talking to parentsAs you develop your own identity you may want to start separating yourself from your parents' way of thinking and doing things, and start expressing your own ideas and opinions. At times you may voice your opinions really strongly, or you might feel like you have to keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself to avoid upsetting others.

This can be a confusing time not only for you, but also for your parents. Until this point in time, your parents were probably used to you mostly listening to and doing what they say, and not questioning their way of doing things.

What can you do about it?

When people come together with different ideas and communication is not clear, conflict can occur. At times like these, talking with your parents might seem really annoying, tiring or frustrating. Parents can find it annoying, tiring or frustating too! However, there are ways to make things smoother. Below are some ideas to think about.

  • Start a conversation - it might be easier to begin by talking about day-to-day stuff
  • Think about what you want to achieve from the conversation - You may want your parents to help by doing some of the following; listening and understanding, providing advice or help with a situation, giving permission for something. You could share with your parent what you are hoping to achieve from the conversation so that they understand what your kind of help you are seeking from them.
  • Listen to your what your parents say - be fair, it's important to listen too. If you show respect and maturity in the way you communicate with your parents they are more likely to listen to what you are saying and to have confidence in your ability to make good decisions.
  • Avoid putting down their ideas - nobody likes being told ‘That's stupid’ or ‘You have no idea what you are talking about’
  • Use "I" statements - such as ‘I feel stressed out when you won't let me go to the movies with my friends’ instead of ‘You're always stressing me out and never let me to the movies like everyone else’

Talking about difficult issues

Talking to your parents about sensitive things and asking for assistance or advice can be really tough, particularly if you are going through something difficult, or need to talk about something big.

Although it might feel uncomfortable, talking about difficult things can often help. Your parents may know how to help, and offer support, or just listen to you and understand at these times.

Below are some ideas to think about.

  • Let them know if it is urgent - some things can't wait
  • Think about what you need to say - get clear before you talk
  • Think of the best way to communicate it - eg face-to-face, by phone or by writing a letter or email
  • Let them know how you feel - this will help them understand where you're coming from
  • Choose the time and place to talk - try to make it a time when you'll have their full attention.

Keep in mind that good communication takes time, energy and practice. There may also be times when things just don't work out, no matter how hard you try. Take a break and try again later.

Talking with a counsellor or someone you trust as you work on this can often be helpful.

If you want to talk to someone about communicating with your parents, you can call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Updated: December 2013