My Parents Are Stupid

“My parents won’t let me go anywhere.” “My parents won’t let me date.” “My parents treat me like I’m a baby.” “My parents treat me like I’m their slave.” “My parents punish me for rules I never knew existed.” “My parents are SO stupid.” “My parents suck.”

I hear many teens make these statements in my office. I get that the way you feel in this moment is that your parent(s) are the dumbest people on the planet. They make you mad, and they prevent you from doing what you want to do.

my parents are stupid

I could defend them now and tell you their side. I’m choosing to not do that right now. I’m sure you’ve heard them explain their reasons.

The one thing I will do is encourage you to take charge of the “issues” that are causing you to believe your parents are stupid. If your parents will not let you go out, find out why. If you feel that your parents treat you as if you are their slave, talk with them about it. If your parents never do anything fun with you, and all your relationship consists of is fighting and “working” (chores, etc.) let them know how you feel about the current situation.

Here’s the big catch: I have seen SO MANY TEENS fail at doing what I describe above. Why do they fail? Timing. They choose to “talk” about these issues when they are mad (after their parents have already said “no” to something). The teen is angry, the parents are annoyed, and the teen hopes to push their parent enough to to get their way. This strategy will only hurt you in the long run. I promise you that.

As I say in my other blogs, arrange a time (AHEAD OF TIME and when you don’t have something big that you’re asking for coming up in the next day or two) to sit down and talk with your parents. Be calm when you talk with them. Tell them you would like to problem-solve ____________ issue that you have with them. Use an “I statement” to start the conversation:

“I feel ______________ (defeated, hopeless, hurt, sad, ) when you _____________ (don’t allow me to spend time with friends, yell at me for not cleaning my room, etc.), and I’m wondering if we can figure out a way to work through this.”

Don’t expect this to cure anything. It may not work on the first attempt, but this is a good starting place. A few more pointers: Don’t yell. If they are not budging on the issue, agree to disagree, and revisit the issue later. Exercise ahead of time if you think you might end up yelling. Don’t have the conversation when anyone is hungry, on chemicals, or tired.

Let me know how this goes for you. I have other strategies in my tool belt, but I have seen this one do wonders. Good luck! 🙂

June 11th, 2013

My parents are fighting – What can I do?

First of all, if your parents are fighting, please know that it’s not your fault. Second, if you are not in a safe place (or someone is getting hurt) please get help. Call 911 if someone is in need of help.

Okay, got that scary disclaimer out of the way. NOW… a bit of background. Parents have many, many things to disagree about, and disagreeing is NORMAL. Raising kids/teens and working, paying bills, living life (etc.) is not a simple thing to do. Parents are going to fight. My thought, since you are reading this, though, is that your parents are fighting A LOT (frequently) or BIG TIME (the fights are scary). I’m really sorry you (and they) are going through this.

My parents are fighting

Even if your parents are fighting about YOU, it is NOT YOUR FAULT. If you’re thinking, “Yes it is my fault. If I could only do _______ better, then they would not fight,” you’re wrong. Even if you changed _______ behavior, your parents would still disagree. Either about your behavior, how to pay the bills, which vacation to take over summer break, or something else. That is not on you. They are adults and will figure out how to get through their fighting. They will resolve their disagreement in their own way.

You are probably feeling a ton of emotions (angry, sad, confused, scared, hopeless, pissed) and that is okay. It is best to talk about the way you’re feeling with a friend, trusted adult, etc. If your parents’ fighting is getting really bad (and you are not in danger) it might make sense to talk with them about it. ***DO NOT DO THIS DURING ONE OF THEIR FIGHTS!*** They may not realize that their fighting has gotten out of hand, or that you’re aware that they’re fighting (not joking about this. Many parents are shocked to learn that their kids hear their fights). I cannot safely recommend that all teens talk with their parents about the fighting. Please talk with a trusted adult if you are thinking of talking with your parents and it feels scary.

I do not know what your parents fights mean. Many teens ask me if their parents are going to get divorced because they are fighting. I don’t know that answer. Just know that all parents disagree/fight, and this does not always mean that divorce is near.

Please talk with someone you trust, know that your parents’ fights are not your fault, and keep yourself safe. This time in your life will pass…

Was this helpful? What else do you want to know about fighting parents?

My Siblings Hate Me

My Siblings Hate Me

Life is stressful enough as a teenager. You’re likely already trying to balance school, other activities, friends/social life, and parental expectations. When you have tense and complicated relationship with your brother(s) or sister(s) on top of all this, it can be overwhelming… and isolating at the same time.

Your siblings are supposed to be the ones you can confide in, right? The ones that understand the way things are in your family. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not like that and you can have siblings, even close in age, and still feel all alone.

If you find yourself in this situation here are some tips:

  1. Evaluate if you would like to have a closer relationship with your siblings. Sometimes being close with siblings is not the best choice. 
  2. Apologize, if an apology or explanation for your behavior is needed.
  3. Work on reaching out… maybe it’s a “how was your day?” while you’re getting a snack after school, maybe it’s wandering into their room after dinner to say hi.
  4. Focus on shared interests to start reaching out. Do you like the same music? Follow some of the same people on Instagram? Have funny family quirks you can both laugh at?
  5. Keep trying to connect with them, but also honor their space. It’s a slow process to repair or build a connection so don’t get discouraged, but also acknowledge that your sibling might need a little time as well.
  6. Reach out for help! If the above ideas are not working, reach out to a parent, other adult or counselor to help you.

Have you done something else that helped improve a relationship with a sibling?

Blog written by Katie Fleuriet, MSW, LICSW

How to Tell your Parents you want to see a Counselor

I want to start off by saying that you know your parents and I don’t. I don’t have a “one size fits all” response that will magically get them to allow you to go to therapy.That being said, if you’re reading this, you are wondering how to tell your parents you want to see counselor and are nervous about how your parent(s) will respond. Here are some common reasons teens go to therapy. If I were sitting with you (in person) I would ask you a few questions that are worth knowing the answer to before talking with your parent(s).

1. Why are you nervous about asking them if you can start counseling? Many teens are afraid that if they tell their parent, their parent will want to know everything they have going on so that the parent can ‘solve’ the problem. If this is the case for you, I encourage you to tell your parent that you are trying to solve some of your current challenges independently.

2. Other teens know that their parents believe therapy is for “sick” or “crazy” people. If your parent has a belief similar to this, it makes sense to let them know that you are sorting through some personal/social issues that need an objective adult’s viewpoint. This has nothing to do with some scary diagnosis.

Okay. If you have answered the above questions, you might be ready to talk with your parent(s). At this point, you should have a basic idea about whether it will be best for you or a trusted adult to have this conversation with them.

1. Set a time with your parent to have the conversation. Find a time that allows for few distractions and a lot of privacy.

2. Be sure no one is using chemicals at the time of the conversation.

3. Let your parent know you wish to talk with an adult about some things you have going on, and that you want this person to be completely objective to your situation (in other words, the adult/counselor doesn’t love you like your parent(s) do, so they will be able to guide you with basic, non-influenced decision-making in a way that family members generally cannot).

4. Assuming you are not in danger, reassure your parent(s) that you are not in danger and that you just need some support from another person in your life.

5. If possible, choose a therapist/counselor ahead of time (you can find many of us online). Read my blog about how to find a good therapist for yourself. If your parent has questions they want to ask the therapist, most of us are happy to sit down and answer questions that teens and parents might have before therapy starts. Most of the time, this question and answer session is free of charge.

6. If your parent does not respond well, it makes sense to end the discussion for the night. A fight is not necessary. Some statements might help you: “I need additional support from another adult,” “You did nothing wrong as my parent. I just need to learn how to get through this on my own,” “I need a space that allows me to discuss private things.”

How to tell your parents you want to see a counselor

This is just  a starting place. If the conversation doesn’t go well (more than once), you may want to talk with your school counselor, a trusted teacher, pastor (etc.) to see if they are willing to talk with your parent(s) about your need for therapy. The counselor can help your parents understand your need for therapy (without spilling the beans about what you have going on). They can recommend that you see a therapist and give your parents a “referral.” (Click here to read my blog: How to Find a Good Therapist). If you choose to talk with an adult who is not a school or church official, inform that adult (before they talk with your parent) that you want privacy maintained when they talk with your parents. In other words, tell the adult that you don’t want them telling your parents everything. Most adults will honor this request as long as you are not in danger of hurting yourself or someone else.

Were these steps helpful for you in talking with your parents about getting counseling?

My parents hate me.

The longer I am a therapist for teens, the more emails I get from desperate teenagers. The emails are most often about a painful incident that makes a teen believe their parent(s) hate them.

Other reasons I get emails from teens:
1. Looking for help: How can I get my parents to say yes?
2. Looking for help: How can I make my parents like me more?
3. Looking for help: Why won’t my parents trust me?
4. Looking for help: Why won’t my parents let me be myself?

I generally respond to the email by letting the teen know that I need to know more about their situation and that I would love to meet with them and their parents. I might give a tiny bit of “advice” if something seems really obvious to me. Generally, though, I don’t hear back from the teens and then don’t end up in my office. So… I think about these teens…

My Parents Hate Me

If you feel like your parents hate you, we need to figure out what the disconnect is.

When parents: Try to get you to value the same things they value (church, school, volunteering, etc.)
They are: Doing their best to raise you into their version of a good and successful person. You do not have to value their church or way of dressing long-term. Before long, you will get to live your life as you choose. If this is a really big issue, it might help to sit down with a therapist to come to some compromises. Read here to find a therapist in your area.

When parents: Take away your cell phone/ipod/computer for the weekend…
They are: Generally trying to say that you broke the rules, and now you must pay. They don’t hate you if they do this to you, even though this brings you *PAIN.

When parents: Call you names…
They are: Either unsure that the name hurts you (could they be using sarcasm?) or they are not handling their anger the way adults should handle their anger. The name-calling usually does not mean they hate you, but that they don’t know what do to. Again, if name calling is happening a lot, I suggest therapy. If that is not an option, do your best to talk with trusted people about your situation. Know that the names they are calling you are not true and that their hurtful words actually show you that your parent is struggling. This is not your fault. I will write a blog at some point about how you can counter the name-calling in your mind with affirmations.

When parents: Hit you…
They are: Not managing their anger appropriately. Talk with a trusted adult. Hitting is not okay and therapy (at very least) is needed.

When parents: Ground you.
They are: Telling you that they don’t like something you did or said. This usually does not mean that they hate you. Grounding can feel really bad, though, and if it is being used constantly, you might need to negotiate some other consequences (not during an argument, though. That won’t work). Also, if you’re being grounded constantly, something needs to change. Work on somehow meeting your parents in the middle with whatever rule of theirs you keep breaking.

One last thing. Life is not always fair and sometimes you are dealt a bad situation. The one thing I can tell you is this: THIS IS TEMPORARY! YOU HAVE A LONG LIFE AHEAD OF YOU.

Teens: Please email me or comment below and I will write more about general topics to help you figure out what is going on when your parent does a certain thing. What do your parents do that makes you feel as if they hate you?

**Please note: I will respond to some comments/questions below. Because I am not your therapist (and, therefore, do not have all the information about your situation) please do not mistake my comments as professional advice. I cannot always respond to the questions quickly and if you are in need of professional help, do not rely on this blog for that type of support. Please call your therapist or 911 if you are in need of immediate hep.**

“You always/You never…”

Teens: Generally speaking, it is not helpful to accuse your parent of being a crappy parent in order to get what you want. Let me clarify with an example.

Teen: I’m going to Sam’s tonight.

Parent: Excuse me? Were you asking me if you could go somewhere tonight?

Teen: Yes, I’m asking to go to Sam’s house tonight.

Parent: You need to ask me for permission. Not TELL me what you are doing.

Teen: I AM asking! I’m asking to go to Sam’s house! What don’t you understand?

Parent: I understand this just fine. I understand that you’re telling me where you’re going tonight!

Teen: You always do this! You never let me go anywhere! You’re always on such a power trip! You’re a control freak!

Parent: You’re not going anywhere because you’re being so disrespectful right now. This conversation is OVER.

Teenager fight with mom Boom… endofstory. You’re now stuck at home tonight. A word to the wise: Parents like to be asked for permission. Additionally, telling them what a horrible parent they are (while asking them for permission to go somewhere) is not going to get you what you want. Nor is it going to help your relationship with your parent.

Teens, try to avoid starting your sentences with, “You always,” and “You never.” You’ll get further in your conversation.

Has avoiding these words helped you in conversation with your parents?

I’m Anxious About My Future

It is very normal to feel anxious about the future. For one thing, the future brings lots of uncertainty, which can be anxiety provoking in itself. Also, when thinking about the future, there are big decisions to make such as whether or not to go to college, take a gap year, enter the workforce, etc. Maybe you haven’t made these decisions yet and that’s okay. Some people put pressure on themselves about these decisions and/or get pressure from outside sources such as teachers and parents. Maybe you have gotten the message that you need to know what you want to do RIGHT NOW, and that what you choose you will be stuck with until you retire. That’s a lot of pressure! No wonder you are anxious if this is how the future feels to you.is my teen suffering from anxiety

Future decisions are not set in stone. You can take your time to make up your mind and can then make changes along the way. Some people change their major in college numerous times. Some people go to school for one thing and end up doing something else. Some people have a career for a while and then change careers later in life. All of this is okay. While thinking about the future is scary, taking time to plan out the future might decrease anxiety because it decreases uncertainty. And be ready for the curves or changes of heart that come along with being human. We don’t always know how things are going to be, or how we are going to feel. There is not a “right” way, as we are all different.

I also see young people worry about the future because they think if they take a “misstep” their dreams will unravel. For example, they think they need to get all As or they will not get to have the future they want (or the future others want for them). Again, no wonder you feel anxious if you are being given the message that one B will ruin your future. It’s okay to not get all As. Many people who did not get all As in school go on to have very successful careers. I’m not saying don’t try in school. I’m just saying that you don’t have to put so much pressure on yourself.

what decision making actually looks like

Or maybe you are anxious for the future because it is such a big change (like those of you who are about to graduate high school, go off to college, or enter the workforce). Other people feel nervous about these transitions, too. You are not alone. Think about other times you have gone through a transition, like the transition from middle school to high school. Remind yourself you were able to get through it.

In summary, here are the strategies I have detailed to reduce worry about future:

  1. Remind yourself that decisions are not set in stone; life is fluid and ever changing. It is okay to change your mind.
  2. Make a plan, so that you know your next step. Remember, plans can change. This is a normal part of life and helps us understand ourselves better!
  3. Do your best to put less pressure on yourself!
  4. Remember other transitions you have gone through in your life that turned out okay. Think positive thoughts!

There are many reasons why thinking about the future is difficult. What has helped you in managing your anxiety about the future?

Blog written by Sentier therapist, Andrea Schroeder, MS, LPCC, LPC