If you are finding life at home stressful because your parents fight or your family is going through a tough time, you are not alone. A large number of teenagers experience family problems that are stressful and worrying.
In a study by Cavanaugh and Henneberger 28% of American teenagers had experienced conflict in their homes and 20% worried about their parents’ relationship. According to a by Australian Institute for Family Studies family was the biggest worry for Australian tweens and teens.
Stress of the pandemic
The past year has been very challenging for millions of teenagers. Not only did you transition into distance learning and deal with lockdowns but you may have had to help your younger siblings.
Your parents may have struggled to cope with financial, work and health problems. They may have started drinking more or be preoccupied with money worries. They may be working more than before and have less time to support you.
You are more aware than your younger sibling on what is going on at home. You may even try to shield them from your parents’ stresses.
What you can do
1. Talk to your parents
If you feel able to, talk to your parents about your worries and stress. Let them know that you see how their conflict is impacting you and your siblings negatively.
Often parents don’t realize how much their relationship problems and stresses impact their children. Once they realize that, many parents want to address the issue.
Your parents want to provide you with a safe and happy home. By letting them know that home is not a good place for you, they are likely to take it seriously.
2. Find someone to confide in
Many teens feel that they betray their parents’ trust if they speak to an external person about family problems. As a result, they don’t get the support they need and neither do they get the advice that the adult may be able to give.
You shouldn’t have to carry your worries alone. If you are unable to talk to your parents, find someone you can confide in. This person can be any trustworthy adult in your life. Maybe your grandmother, uncle, best friend’s father or your swim coach? You don’t have to tell them every single detail about what is going on at home, but you can freely talk about how it is making you feel.
3. Take control of your own well-being
You may have a limited amount of control over your life right now but take charge of what is under your control. Exercise regularly, eat healthy and get enough sleep. Spend time doing things that are fun: Spend time with your friends, journal or paint, or listen to music.
You are not responsible for your parents’ relationship. Their struggles are not your fault. You bring them joy and happiness every day. They may not remember to tell you that often enough but please be assured, you make their lives better.
On My Mind offers help and resources to young people.
Matleena Vanhanen is a licensed Counselling Psychologist with over 20 years of experience working in Europe and the Middle East. She has a practice of couples and individual therapy at the MapleTree Center in Dubai.