Listening to your parents fight is tough, and you may not know to respond when they start up again. You may be wondering if there’s anything you can do to make them stop. Unfortunately, no one can make another person do something—which means that’s there’s no guarantee that you can stop your parents from fighting. However, there still may be some good things you can do to try to make them understand how you feel and hopefully get them to decide to stop on their own. If you’re feeling sad, scared, anxious, or even angry about your parents’ arguments, we have some advice on how you can sort through your emotions and come up with a plan for how to deal with this difficult situation.
Decide if you want to talk to your parents about their fights. In most cases, talking to your parents about how their fighting is upsetting you is a good thing. It’s possible that your parents don’t know that you can hear their arguments, or they may not realize how upset you are.
- They might think that their fights are no big deal, and haven’t thought about it from your perspective.
Choose the right time to talk to your parents. As much as you want their fighting to stop immediately, it’s best if you stay away (if possible) during your parents’ fight.
- Wait until they’ve calmed down, and tell them that you want to talk about something that’s been bothering you
Describe to your parents how things seem to you. You are making a mature decision to talk to your parents about how their fighting is affecting you, which is great! To increase the chances of having a good conversation with the outcome you are hoping for, you need to try to communicate effectively. You should begin by explaining to your parents what you observe from your perspective.
- For example, “Mom and Dad, it seems like you have been having a lot of fights lately, especially in the mornings when we’re all getting ready.”
Tell your parents what you think. Because you want your parents to understand things from your perspective, it can be a good idea to let them know what you think about the situation, even if what you think is that you are totally confused.
- For example, you could follow up by saying “I’m not really sure why there have been so many fights lately. Maybe it’s because you guys have been working extra shifts or because you have to bring me to school early for band practice.”
Explain how you feel. Be honest about how you are feeling, and hopefully your parents will listen, be able to reassure you, and will decide to change their behavior.
- For example, you can continue the conversation by saying “Anyway, it’s been pretty stressful. I’m worried that you’re mad because of me, and I’m worried that you’re going to split up.”
Tell your parents what you want. Don’t forget to tell your parents what you want. Of course you may really just want them to stop fighting altogether, but that might be unrealistic.
- You can, however, ask them to try keep you out of it, or to do their best to argue in private.
Write out what you want to say in advance. If you are nervous about remembering everything you want to say to your parents, or if you’re worried that you’ll be really emotional, it might help you to write things out before you talk to them.
- Make sure that your message includes all of the steps outlined above (about telling them how things seem to you, etc.), and then rehearse it.
Consider writing your parents a letter instead. While it’s probably best for you to try to talk to your parents face-to-face, if you are too nervous, then writing them a letter may also help. This could give them time to digest what you’re telling them and talk it over together.
- If you write your parents, you still want to communicate effectively, so think about the steps we explained above so that you know what to include your letter.
Listen to your parents’ explanations. Hopefully, your parents will be willing to talk to you about what’s been going on between them and can explain why they’ve been fighting. If they are opening to talking, do your best to listen to them without interrupting.
- With luck, you guys can all begin to work it out, and may be able to come up with a plan about how to handle stress, disagreements and fights in the future.
Talk to someone you trust about your parents’ fighting. If you’re not sure about whether or not you should talk to your parents, if you’re not sure what you should say to them when you do talk to them, or if you’ve talked to them but nothing has changed, you should try to find a trusted adult to talk to.
- Pick someone who cares about you, who you can trust, and who look out for you. Think about going to a relative, a school counselor, your favorite teacher, or your religious leader for advice.
Be open to going to family therapy. It’s possible that your parents may suggest that the family goes to counseling or therapy. They may decide to do this after you’ve talked to them, but even if you haven’t gotten around to that, they may realize on their own that their fighting is getting out of control and suggest counseling.
- You may not like the sound of this at all, especially if you are shy or private or are just worried that it will be boring.
- Remember though that it’s a good sign! If your parents suggest you all go to counseling, it means that they care about trying to keep the family safe and happy.