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Parents, stepparents, grandparents, and guardians

A multi-generational family.Many girls have fights or tough times with the adults in their families. They can still have amazing relationships with those adults. Keep reading to learn about:

Talking with parents or guardians

As you get older, your relationship with your parents or guardians changes. You may want more privacy or independence, for example. That's natural, but you can still stay connected.

Making time to talk can help strengthen your connections. You might just talk about simple, everyday things or talk while doing something fun together. Being in the habit of talking about small things may make it easier to talk about harder subjects.

If you want to share how you feel about something, it can be easier if you use "I statements." That means you say things like "I feel…" instead of criticizing the other person. Also, if you want something, try to ask politely. (Making demands is not very polite — or very effective.)

If you need to raise a tough topic, keep in mind that your parents or guardians were young once, too. They may have faced very similar issues. Plus, they probably will appreciate your honesty and bravery in coming to them.

If you don't like your family's rules, ask if you can discuss them. Sometimes, parents are willing to change certain rules, especially if you show you can be responsible.

Learn more about talking to parents and other adults.

Arguing with parents or guardians

Parents and teens disagree and argue at times, even though they love each other. Check out tips below for how to handle fights.

Tips for handling fights with parents

  • Talk about the rules. Ask the reasons behind a rule so you can understand it. Consider sharing how a rule makes you feel. Ask if your parents or guardians will consider your ideas about what the rules should be.
  • Follow the rules. Keep to your curfew if you have one. Call if you're going to be late, so your parents or guardians don't worry. If you follow the rules, your parents or guardians may be more likely to discuss them. If you don't follow the rules, you'll likely just get in trouble.
  • Pick your battles. Cleaning your room is no fun, but it's most likely not worth fighting about.
  • Spend time with your family. Some teens fight with their parents or guardians over how much time they spend with friends. Talk it over, and make some special family time. You might go for a walk or have dinner together.
  • Try to stay calm. Don't yell or stomp your feet when your parents or guardians say no. If you listen and speak calmly, you may show them that you are growing up.
  • After an argument, think about what happened. Consider your part in the problem, and apologize. Talk about how you might prevent similar fights in the future.

Handling challenging times

Lots of teens face some really scary family issues, like illness and divorce. Over time, they usually feel better. Here are some ways you can feel better, too.

Running away

Are fights at home so bad that you are thinking of leaving? Learn more about how running away can be dangerous.

Think of ways you can cope, like going for a walk, doing something creative, or talking to a friend. Stay away from things like drugs and drinking, since they only make problems worse.

If you need support from outside your family, talk to a trusted adult, such as a teacher, religious leader, or school counselor. You also can contact a 24-hour crisis text line and a helpline for kids and teens.

Keep reading for information on coping in some specific situations.

  • Do you take care of someone in your family? For tips on how to deal, check out our information for young caregivers.
  • Are you struggling because your parents are getting divorced? Remember, divorce is never a kid's fault. With time and support, you can adjust to the changes you're facing. Learn about dealing with divorce.
  • Does your parent or other relative have an illness or disability? Check out our section for relatives of people with illnesses or disabilities.
  • Do you have a relative in the military? Having a relative in the military can be scary and upsetting. Read more about military life.
  • Is your family having money problems? You can't solve your family's money worries, but you might suggest that your family look at a helpful website.
  • Does your parent have a drug or alcohol problem? If your parent has an addiction, you may feel scared or worried. Learn more about having an addicted parent.

Few things in life are harder than the death of a close relative. In the video below, one young woman talks about the loss of her mom. If you are dealing with a loss, you can read more about how to handle grief.

screenshot from video.
Watch this video.

Getting along with stepparents

A new stepparent can bring up lots of feelings. Even if you like your stepparent, you may feel sad, worried, or upset at times.

Here are some tips that can help:

  • Accept your feelings. It's natural to have feelings like confusion, anger, and guilt when a parent remarries. Don't worry that there's something wrong with you if you have any (or all) of these feelings!
  • Sort through your feelings. Keeping a journal might help. Friends who have gone through a similar situation may also be able to offer tips.
  • Talk honestly. If you don't like any new rules or situations, ask calmly and respectfully about changing them. Check out tips for handling conflict.
  • Get support from your parent or another trusted adult. Adults who care about you really want to help. If it seems too hard to turn to a family member, talk to another adult you trust. If you are struggling, a mental health professional like a school counselor can help.
  • Try to spend time with your stepparent. This new person is going to be around, and chances are you will be happier if you can find his or her more positive sides.

Keep in mind that with patience — and some hard work — lots of stepfamilies end up feeling very close.


Content last reviewed September 16, 2015
Page last updated November 09, 2015