How to deal with fighting Parents

By Divyasri Chakraborty

 

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Zaid drags himself from bed and reaches work almost an hour late, looking worn-out and frazzled. He has been up all night consoling his devastated mother who has been crying inconsolably after one of her regular fights with his father.

He is an adult, 25 years old, living with his parents, and this is a recurrent scenario for him. Parental conflict can be present in the lives of adult children long after they graduate and have families of their own.

If you can relate to Zaid and you feel that you are at the end of your tether, here are some things that might help deal with this issue.

  • Understanding that it is not your responsibility to fix their issues for them – From childhood, we are repeatedly told by people around us that we have to take care of our parents. We internalize this so much that it makes us think we “should” somehow resolve their conflicts. We do it as children, we do it as adults. This is a pattern we follow, which in turn gives rise to self blame, because no matter how much we try they will not stop fighting. So realizing that we are not accountable for their conflicts and fights is the first important step.
  • Walk away – Family means emotional dependence. Parents sometimes seek support from their children to back them up while they fight with their spouse. Realize that you do not have to play the referee in situations like these. Learning when to walk away from a conversation is helpful – step out for fresh air or take a walk, put on your headphones and listen to some music, read a book or plan a meeting with a friend.
  • Maintaining boundaries – Being assertive is very important in all the avenues of life. In situations like these, being assertive in communicating is helpful. Parents having disagreements between them does not imply that they can transgress about what you want and need, particularly when you have communicated your preferences earlier.
  • Seek support – Having a confidante, whether it is a sibling, a cousin, a friend or a partner is essential for your mental peace. Talking to someone about your parents can make some people feel vulnerable at times. Confiding in someone, even if it is one person, who understands the equation between you and your parents could go a long way as an effective measure.
  • Communicate how you feel – Some of us might not be comfortable in being open to our parents, especially in the Indian context. But if your parents’ fighting is making you feel miserable, it is necessary to let them know. Communication is essential in all kinds of relationships. Communicating your feeling will make them aware and also might encourage them to be accommodating and adjusting with each other in your presence.
  • Taking care of self – The truth is no matter how hard one tries, one cannot change anyone but himself. Focusing on your mental and physical health is important for the personal growth. Be kind and compassionate with yourself and start taking care of yourself.
  • Talk to a Therapist – Talking to an expert is always helpful because they help you deal with issues effectively by providing proper guidance and training.

Sometimes having disagreements which might escalate into a fight does not always imply that they do not respect or love each other.  The problem arises when something is hampering your mental health and peace. Parental conflict can have adverse effects on your overall well-being even when you are an adult.  That is the time to take an action and see what works best for you.