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Getting along with your parents

communication; conflict; respect; negotiation; tolerance; responsibility;


This topic is about getting along with your parents or those adults who live with and look after you. These may be foster parents, grandparents, other family members or life partners of your birth mum or dad.


When you were very little, you and your parents communicated in lots of different ways.

You would:

  • hug or touch each other
  • play together
  • smile and be pleased to see each other
  • express your feelings easily to each other
  • talk to each other
  • be together almost all the time.

When you went off to kindy and then school, you spent less time together; you had other people to talk to, play with and learn from.

As you get older, you become less dependent on your parents and more dependent on yourself. That's how it should be. That's part of growing up.

communicationBut communication between you and your parents is not any less important. In fact, it becomes more important as you reach your puberty years.

  • Parents want to know that you are safe and happy, so they ask questions. They want to know about your friends, where you are going, what you are doing, and heaps of other stuff that you may feel they don't always need to know!
  • Remember that your parents still love and care for you and they are still responsible for you.
  • Communication is very important, although the ways in which you communicate may change. You and your parents may need to work out ways to communicate that give you all some independence, privacy and the freedom to express yourselves in a positive way.


How to talk with parents

If you want someone to listen to you then you have to listen to them.

Good listening looks like:

  • being respectful when talking to your parents
  • looking at the person who is talking
  • saying back to them what you think they mean
  • making yourself clear
  • talking quietly and calmly
  • waiting until they finish before saying anything
  • being prepared to negotiate - no-one can always have everything all his own way
    being prepared to negotiate
  • choosing a convenient time to talk, when mum is driving in traffic is not good!
  • sticking to the subject rather than dragging in all sorts of other stuff.

Helpful hint: don't ask for something when others are there. No-one likes to be 'put on the spot'! You will definitely get into the 'bad books'. And never 'play' one parent against another. You know what I mean: "But dad said I could" or 'Mum says it's OK". This could mean that you are no longer trusted and it could cause problems between your parents.

bad negotiation


If people treat others with respect, then they can expect to be treated with respect.

  • Respect the rules of your household. Your friends may have different rules where they live but they don't live with you!
  • Negotiate together.
  • Use problem solving techniques if you have a problem.
  • Respect property. You wouldn't like someone to break something of yours or use it without permission, so don't think that you can do what you like with whatever is in the house.
  • Respect other siblings and their rights.
  • Respect family traditions. You may not want to go to family parties but go anyway, at least for a short time. It's part of being a family.

The rules

Everywhere has rules. You have grown up with lots of rules around the house and as you get older there may be more rules. These rules are for the benefit of everyone living in the house, their safety and comfort.

Family rules

As you get older you may want to make some changes. Make a time to talk to your parents if you don't already have a regular time ( like when you are in bed, or when you are eating together).

You may want to talk about:

  • rules about privacy and everyone's own space
  • rules about going out with friends
    negotiate about rules
  • rules about laundry, snacks and homework
  • rules about the computer and when you can use the internet.
  • rules about the bathroom and the toilet, eg flushing, cleaning, replacing toilet paper and wiping the sink.

Remember that this is your home, but your parents' house, .and the home of everyone who is living there. Everyone has the right to feel safe and cared for.


When rules are broken there are always consequences. Part of growing up is learning that whatever you do has an effect on others as well as yourself.

You may think that being late home is okay because you were safely with a friend. Your mum may see that very differently. You could end up being grounded.

Instead of whingeing "How unfair" etc. do a bit of thinking.

  • What was the reason you were groundedquestion mark
  • Did you learn anything from thisquestion mark
  • What could you have done so that mum wasn't worriedquestion mark
  • How can you show that you have learned a lesson and will be more responsible in futurequestion mark

When you're not allowed to…

Once you reach puberty you start to think that you're nearly grown up. How annoying is it when parents seem to want to treat you as if you were still a little kid?

Well, parents are keen on your being safe at all times, so you need to work with them.

  • You need to explain that what you want to do is safe. You need to be able to explain how you know this.
  • You need to listen to what they say.
  • You need to be prepared for them to check up on what you have said.
  • You need to be prepared to negotiate.

negotiationAn example: My teenage daughter wanted to go to a rock concert with her friends from school. They were to go on the train and meet in town, walk to the concert then walk back to town and catch the train home. As a parent my immediate reaction was "No Way" as I thought of all the things that might happen to my 'baby'.

We talked about it and checked with her friends' parents.

After some negotiation she did get to go, and so did her friends. But, all the parents got together so that the girls were taken to the concert. They were picked up outside afterwards and driven home to their own homes. No parents were allowed to go to the concert with the girls so everyone got something of what they wanted.

The girls were happy and the parents were too (once we'd got our girls safely home again!)


Parents are people too

show respect even when...Your parents chose to have children, but remember that your parents are not just your parents. They have other roles too. You need to check out that it's okay before you make any arrangement with friends or teams.

Parents deserve some 'time-out' too!  So, be respectful to whoever is looking after you when your parents are out. If you act like 'the kid from hell' it could be really hard for them to find a babysitter next time and that wouldn't be fair.

What kids say

  • "I think parents should learn to trust their kids and let them do stuff on their own. If they never give them any freedom then they will never learn to be independent."
  • "It's up to parents and kids to trust each other. Sometimes parents say you should always do something, and then they don't."
  • "Sometimes parents should try and see things from their kid's point of view. I want my parents to realize that I'm growing up and I want to be more independent. If they don't tell me what to pack every morning then I won't forget anything because I've been packing and unpacking my schoolbag for 7 years!"
  • "When I go out somewhere with my friends I know what I'm doing. We're not going to follow some dodgy guy into his car. We're not that stupid!"
  • "My friend seems to get to do more than me. I know my parents worry about me but I feel like they think I'm still a little kid."
  • "I guess it's important to be honest with parents. If you don't tell lies you can't be found out. If your parents know that you always tell the truth, they will give you more freedom because they will think that you can be trusted to do the right thing."

Why there is conflict when you are getting older

As a young child your parents were the leaders of the family. As a teenager or young adult, you want to be more independent and think and speak for yourself. This can be hard for parents to get used to. Parents can also continue to be protective of you, and want to influence what you do and how you do it. Ultimately this is because they want what is best for you, but this can feel overbearing.

It may take a while to learn how to speak up about what you want without upsetting your parents. And if you are upset or irritable, you might be less tolerant of your parents and their wishes.

It gets better

As you move through adolescence and into young adulthood, your relationships with your parents seem to get better. Parents can be some of your best supports, supporting young people through the good times and the bad.

Note: Some young people may have parents who act in an abusive way, rather than simply being strict. If this is the case for you, seek advice. Your local child welfare agency can offer advice and/or assistance. You can phone anonymously for advice if this would be more helpful.

Some young people have problems controlling their anger when they are not getting all their own way. If an older sibling is abusive to you or your parents this is not ok.

Dr Kate says

Dr KateEveryone has many roles to play in their lives. Whatever role you play in the outside world, you can be yourself at home. So can everyone else in your family.

Unlike friends you didn't choose your family and they didn't choose you. Learn to get along with each other, respect each other and care for each other. These are the people who will be part of your life for ever.

 Nowadays many kids do not live with both their natural parents. You may live with mum and her partner, dad and his partner, another adult in your family or another adult who is caring for you. There may be tough times but remember, the adults who are caring for you have a responsibility for the health and wellbeing of the children in their care.

If you want to talk with someone or read more have a look at these sites

Reach Out, is an Australian online youth mental health service. 

The Kids Helpline is a counselling service for Australian children and young people. 1800 55 1800


When I was your age
I sneaked out at night.
Read under the bedclothes
With a flashlight.
Went scrumping apples
Smoked behind the shed.
Got sprung by my dad
And sent straight to bed.
I grumbled and groaned,
"I'm no little lad."
But that was before
- and now I'm a dad.
So listen to us
Your mum and your dad
Help us keep you safe
From anything bad.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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