My mum and dad are fighting

Dear Suzie, I am thinking of leaving home. My mum and dad are fighting all the time and my younger brother and sister are too young to understand what is going on. I have got exams coming up and coursework due. I used to get on so well with my mum but all she does it cry and cry.. What can I do??

I’m really sorry to hear this – it’s an awful situation to be in and I do feel for you. What can you do? Well, it’s not up to you to solve your parents problems – that’s for them to sort out. But perhaps both of them need to hear how much their behaviour is affecting their children – all of them.

Just because your younger brother and sister “are too young to understand” – and I’m not so sure about that – doesn’t mean they don’t find this frightening and disturbing. In fact, they more they may be presumed not to understand, the more they may be left in the dark to muddle through their own interpretations of what is going on. And that usually involves deciding it was all their fault – because they were ‘naughty’ or worthless.

So ask your Mum and Dad to hear you out and tell them – not as an accusation or in blame but a calm explanation – that their fighting is really hurting you. Say it’s none of your business why they fight, what they decide or what they do but you ask them to see someone who could help them deal with this in a way that is best for all of you. Tell them you love them both. Tell them this must stop, one way or other.

They could approach Relate or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or their own doctor for a counsellor. But that all of you really, really need them to act like adults and get help to stop this, one way or other. If you don’t think they’ll give you the chance to say it, write them letters. They need to hear that however sad or angry they are, they have a responsibility as parents to act like grown ups.

And you need some help and support too. Speak with another relative – an aunt or grandparent – who won’t take sides or see it as their job to try to sort out your parents but realise what you need is a shoulder to cry on and someone to be there for you. If you don’t have a suitable relative, what about the Mum of a friend or a teacher? You should get help – you deserve it.

Don’t even think of running away. But perhaps telling your parents that you, and your brother and sister, need some time out from suffering their problems could be the wake-up call they need. Find out if you could go and stay with a grandparent or aunt for a short time to give them space to come to some resolution.

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