Breaking Bad News to Parents During the Holidays

Understand if your parents get upset when they hear your news.
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You hate to be the bearer of bad news during the holidays, but you really need to get something off your chest and tell your parents. Maybe you got fired, failed a class or wrecked your new car, for example. The holidays are already a hectic time of the year, with everyone busy shopping, wrapping presents, decorating the house and cooking. This can make it especially hard to catch up with your parents for a serious talk. You'll have to use some strategies to break the rough news to your parents without totally diminishing the holiday spirit.

1 Timing is Everything

The right time to talk to your parents will be a huge factor in breaking the news. Obviously, you do not want to tell them while all of you are taking part in holiday festivities, so try to get them alone, away from your home environment. Driving in the car or walking around a park are ideal places to talk, according to the TeensHealth website article, "Talking to Your Parents -- Or Other Adults." Perhaps you need to tell them you got caught cheating on a test, cutting class or stealing from the teacher's desk. You could say, "Let's take a drive to see the lights. I need to talk about something that happened at school. When are you free?"

2 Think Before You Speak

Determine exactly how you will approach your parents about the bad news ahead of time. It may help to start off your conversation by talking about day-to-day things and then ease into your topic, according to the BoysTown Kids Helpline article, "Talking With Your Parents." If you have decided that going to college is not the path you want to take, but you think your folks will judge you, you could say, "I want you to know what's been on my mind lately about college, so please just hear me out." If you think you may have an addiction and you need their help, you could say, "I want ask your advice on what to do about something I am struggling with."

3 Spill the Beans

Rehearse what you are going to say in the mirror beforehand. Say what you want to say as clearly and briefly as possible, advises author Deborah Schoeberlein in her Huffington Post article, "Good Ways to Deliver Bad News." Honestly express your thoughts and feelings about the situation. If you failed a math exam, for example, you could say, "I feel bad that I flunked my math test. I am so disappointed in myself that I didn't study hard enough for it." If you got a driving ticket, you could say, "I should not have tried to impress my friends while driving. I'll use my own money to pay the ticket."

4 Dealing With Your Parents' Reaction

After giving up your bad news, you will have to deal with how your parents react to it. It is not unusual for parents to feel mad and displeased when hearing bad news, according to psychotherapist Drew Coster in the PsychCentral website article, "Teenage Pregnancy: 10 Tips for Telling Your Parents." Imagine how they feel from their point of view. Perhaps you drank alcohol to impress friends; you could say, "I totally understand your disappointment in my giving in to peer pressure." If you found out you are pregnant or have a STD, you could say, "I know I let you down by not practicing safe sex." If the news is too much for them to handle, suggest going together to seek professional help -- such as a therapist or family counselor -- after the holidays are over.

Wannikki Taylor is a professional writer with a Bachelors of Arts in journalism from Temple University. She serves as a children's columnist and covers family entertainment for several print and online publications. She specializes in games, crafts and party planning ideas for kids and their families.