Some level of conflict is a given component of all relationships. Those with parents can be particularly trying -- especially as an adolescent. Parents may respond to your need for independence with stricter rules. Or perhaps they are blatantly abusive, filling the home with tension, emotional manipulation and physical or even sexual scars. Being afraid of your parents is a serious issue. You deserve to live in a home where you feel safe, supported and loved. Understanding the context of your feelings and assessing the dynamics in your home can help you minimize or resolve your worries.
Reasons for Fear
Sometimes the basis of fear is obvious -- your parents may have been physically abusive to you or your siblings, or perhaps they have threatened physical harm. Other times, the reasons behind frightening feelings are tough to identify. Even if your father has never behaved aggressively in your presence, perhaps he is large, with a booming voice and an intimidating way. You may not be fearful of physical harm at all. You might worry that your parents will get rid of your dog because you don't walk him as much as you should, or take away your car because you were fined for speeding. There are a multitude of reasons that can cause you to be fearful of your parents. Understanding them will help you prepare to take action.
Understanding the context of your life at home is just as important as understanding the specific reason for your fear. Making sense of the environment can help you identify patterns in your parents' frightening behavior and remind you that you do not cause it. For example, perhaps your parents drink alcohol heavily, often leading to heated arguments during which they throw things. You might be afraid that one day they will hit you. They are not violent because of a poor choice you made or because you did something to upset them. Their violence is triggered by intoxication.
Communicating your concerns to your parents is the most efficient way to resolve them -- as long as it is safe for you to do so. If there is reason to believe that you would be in physical danger if you confronted them, it is critical that you take your concerns elsewhere. Approach a counselor, teacher, other family member or friend's parent instead. Otherwise, tell your parents that you are scared. Explain the reasons behind your fear and ask them to work on the issue with you. Instead of attacking one another, families should work together to attack their problems, writes psychologist Irene M. Swerdlow-Freed in "Improving Communication Between Parents and Teenagers," on her website. Ideally, they will agree to work with you to help you feel safe.
If your parents have been physically or sexually harmful, your family is abusive. Emotional and verbal abuse can be painful, too. Name-calling, blaming you for their behavior and screaming at you are examples of emotional and verbal mistreatment, according to Love Is Respect, an online resource focused on cultivating healthy relationships. Reaching out to someone you trust is an important step toward getting safe, and there are other things you can do to take care of yourself mentally as well. Do your best to get adequate rest, nutrition, exercise and medical care when you are sick. Record your thoughts in a journal -- if you have a safe place to keep it -- and consider meditating or doing deep breathing exercises when possible to minimize your anxiety.
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