Dear Steph,

My parents are fighting all the time, it was bad before but now it’s awful. They don’t agree on anything, they’re always bickering…even though we live together, we don’t do anything as a family because they’re not getting on. It’s really getting me down because all I can hear is them shouting and slamming doors. Please help!

Hi there,

Thanks so much for getting in touch and sharing your story with me, and I’m so sorry to hear that you’re dealing with this right now. This situation that we’re all in has everybody quite tense and some things that might have been just under the surface are starting to bubble up. So when you say they were fighting before and now it’s worse, that’s why.

This is a tough one because it’s your home, but it’s their relationship, and it’s all happening under the one roof. There are a couple of things you can do for yourself that will help you to cope – journalling and breathwork.

(1) Journalling. This can be hard if you haven’t done it before – looking down at a blank page with no idea where to start. But all of the content is there, just under your surface. There’s no right or wrong way to journal, you’ll find your groove, and it’s a really good way to offload what’s going on in your mind. Thoughts, feelings, dreams, situations…write it all down. And then rest on your bed and let the book hold all of your worries for a while. It can take it.

(2) Another thing you can do for yourself is breathwork. You’ll hear me saying this all the time and that’s because it works! Deep breathing calms down the nervous system and puts us back in a position of clarity and focus. The rate of our breath is directly related to the rate of our mind. So, find a nice spot in your room, whether that’s sitting on your bed, or on a cushion on the floor. You can play some soft music on your phone if you like (“Productive Morning” playlist on Spotify is quite nice, even in the evening!).

Close down your eyes, let your hands fall loosely in your lap, and let your breath just slow down first. As you breathe in, the breath should follow 3 parts; belly, ribs, chest, and back down again, chest, ribs, belly. Focus on your breath flowing up and down those 3 parts of your body, nice & slowly. Keep the eyes closed and follow the breath for 4-5 minutes, or as long as is comfortable for you. This will help with managing the stress of the situation.

Aside from that, you have the question of whether you want to confront your parents about how this is affecting you. You might not be ready and that’s ok, but if you are, here’s how. You start by making a statement that takes ownership of the feelings you feel due to their actions; “I get really upset when I hear you guys shouting and arguing all the time. I know you’re stressed, but so am I, and this stresses me out even more. I love you both and I need you both, and when you fight like this, it makes me feel really unsafe. I need you to try harder to get along. Can you please try to be more respectful of each other and of me too?”

What that does is (1) lets them know how you’re really feeling (they might be so caught up in their own concerns that they’re not thinking of the impact it’s having on you), and (2) it offers them a chance to change their behaviour. Depending on how they are, they might not be ready to hear you, or change, which will be difficult, but that’s ok, you’ve done your part and you have some coping skills to get you through.

Keep talking about it to people you trust; friends, other family members and mentors

I hope this slows over for you all soon. Take care of yourself and keep me posted.


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