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Crystalclear's avatar

Scared of parents fighting?

Asked by Crystalclear (24 points ) July 18th, 2012 from iPhone

I’m a young teenage girl living in a family where my parents are fighting a lot. Not fist fight but verbal fight, and it affects me emotionally and physically. They argue twice a week, and sometimes they make it big and end up going totally crazy on each other. I’m always trying to stop them, by reminding them of me. They don’t really seem to care, but I believe they do. Or else they would not be together today. My dad used to tell me he’ll do anything to keep this family together for my brothers and me. My dad is sick,cancer but he got some treatment many years ago. He can’t work anymore. My mum is always stressing about everything, she keep complaining about her life because she’s the one working and my dad is not. Of course he would if he could. I don’t understand my mum sometimes. 3 years ago I started to work for my mum. I helped her out, because I knew how hard it was. I didn’t get the same childhood as every other kids. I went to school everyday and work afterwards. I didn’t have time to be social after school. I never complain because it is all for my family. Can anybody help me? I don’t know how to deal with it, when they fight. I always do my best, how come they are like this all the time? They can see how I cry and beg them to stop when they fight

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14 Answers

bkcunningham's avatar

I can’t imagine what it must be like to live with parents who fight weekly, @Crystalclear. It is difficult enough facing your father’s illness and all that came with that and then pile on top of that the emotions that come from growing up and hitting those teenage years. You just have to remind yourself that you aren’t the core of your parent’s arguments and disagreements. It isn’t your fault and you can’t control them. I hope it teaches you how you want to conduct yourself in a loving relationship. Peace.

wundayatta's avatar

First of all, you can’t control them. You can’t change them. You can only control yourself, so that’s where you need to focus.

You probably have a number of fears about the consequences of their fighting. Maybe you are afraid they will hurt each other physically or mentally. I think it is fair to tell them this. It is fair to tell them how their fighting affects you. Nothing more. Don’t give them advice. Don’t try to solve their problems. Just give them information about how it affects you.

You also can prepare yourself for when you live on your own. Pay attention to school work. Help be a buffer for your siblings. Tell you parents your fears if you like or can.

Just remember you are not responsible. It is not your job to fix them. You can’t fix them. Your job is to protect yourself and take care of yourself if they can’t take care of you. Focus on that.

15acrabm's avatar

My parents also fight every week. It gets pretty bad, even though there is never any physical violence. Our nieghbors called the police on them a few times because they were yelling so loudly. I understand how awful this is and how frustrating it is when you can’t stop them.
What I have discovered is that the only real chance you have at stopping a fight is to calm them down right at the begining, when you sense there is about to be an argument but it hasn’t happend yet. For example, say, “Mom, I know you always are very busy and you must be feeling extremely overworked. How about you relax and I’ll make you some dinner.” With my parents, offering to do something nice for the hostile one gets her in a better mood and prevents many arguments. It also seperates the parents before it gets nasty.
If you don’t manage to prevent the fight, there really isn’t much that you can do. I’m really sorry about that. What I find helpful is to shut the door to my room, crank up my ipod to drown out all sound, and keep myself busy with something like homework or cleaning, or even painting my nails. If you can get out of the house durring these fights, do. Don’t try to get involved, because your parents are probably too angry at that point to care what you have to say, no matter how much they love you.
I wish you the best of luck. Remember, your out of the house soon enough. Just a few more years. Hang in there.

Crystalclear's avatar

Thanks for all your answers, it’s so hard to just turn my back to the problems. I really want to ignore the problems and just keep myself busy with something.
But I can’t. Because I’m afraid of losing them. What if they get a divorce? I can’t imagine how my life would be. I know my mum needs my dad, and she won’t be able to handle her daily life without the help from him. Maybe it would be better of they get separated, but it’s just hard for me to imagine a life like that /:. Im the youngest and only girl in this family. My brothers are living in another city far from us. Every time I get too scared of the situation at home I call them, beg them to come home and do something. I know it may not help to involve them, but I feel more safe when they are around me. I can not tell anybody about this, because I can’t trust my friends. Or I never made really had time to make friends in that way. Yes I’m working until 22pm everyday so it’s quite hard to be social.. Our financial problems are big :(

_Whitetigress's avatar

I got screwed mentally because of this. I also believe I have some sort of PTSD (doors slamming, me not being able to do anything about it, one day I got a little older and just snapped back at my step dad for yelling at my mother). To this day, loud slamming objects bother me but only when I can’t see it happening. I tend to get extremely anxious and I feel a mini rage inside of me to this day followed by an impulse to shout “AH!” really loud. It’s affected me at the restauraunt I work at but I play it off easily and the servers think of it as a joke (when the kitchen guys bang pots around or dishes washers throw things in the dish wash station loudly).

My best advice is to just to get away from that negativity whenever you can. Block it out somehow and just realize it’s not your fault. Maybe catch a parent one on one when they are alone and away from each other. Explain to them what bothers you. If it’s troubling for you to do this verbally, write a poem or a letter to them each. Best Regards!

dabbler's avatar

@wundayatta‘s advice is exactly what you need. Above all that you are not responsible, it’s not your fault. You feel bad because you’re afraid. You’re not guilty or negligent.
It’s sad, and painful. Know that removing yourself from the scene when you have to is the right thing to do.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Crystalclear When I was young, My parents had a rough time because of some family business decisions. My mother and father argued a lot. It drove me nuts. I yelled at them a bunch. It didn’t help. They worked things out on their own. I didn’t add anything. When you’re young adults aren’t going to listen to you much. It isn’t your fault at all what they are doing now.It sucks, but back off and let them work it out. Just so you know, I listen to young people now. There’s no age requirement for wisdom

wundayatta's avatar

The reason why it is dangerous to try to fix them is that you will end up feeling responsible for them, and that is a no win situation. I am not telling you not to tell them your concerns and fears. Far from it. I think you should inform them about what you are feeling. But you should always use “I” statements. Tell them what you feel. They can’t take that away from you. If you feel something, you feel it. They might try to say “don’t feel that way,” but you do. They have to think about that. They may not do what you want them to do, but you will have said what you feel. That’s all you can control.

You can also tell them what you want. Ask them not to fight in front of you. Ask them not to yell. Ask them to assure you they won’t hit each other. Ask them to be kind to each other. Ask what you want. They may or may not do it. Ask again. Be a broken record.

But do not expect to fix them.

People are strong. Your mother will survive if your Dad leaves, and so will you. You will find a way to do it. How do I know? I don’t, for sure. But I do know this happens a lot, and people almost always survive. I have never heard of anyone who hasn’t. At least, not in the US or in first world countries.

I think you need to make sure you protect and care for yourself. You are the only one you can rely on for sure. So you are the only one you can control. To hope to control your parents or to fix them is a fool’s game. You must be honest about your feelings with them and ask them to fix things. But you can’t make them do it. You can only prepare yourself for whatever happens.

I’m sorry. I wish I could be more encouraging, but I believe in being realistic, not offering your false hope that would discourage you from preparing yourself.

CWOTUS's avatar

@wundayatta has given good advice.

I think perhaps that it’s time for you to begin to separate from this in a very real way. Is it possible for you to live with one of your older brothers? What this is doing to you now, aside from the present stress of not enough money and too much responsibility, is setting you up for failure in your own future relationships if you don’t manage to detach from it.

Your parents may think that they have your best interests at heart – and I expect that they have deluded themselves into believing this absolutely – but that is false. They are acting very selfishly, and apparently they can’t even see that.

So, some of the things you need to do:

1. Don’t try to get between them and stop them from fighting. They very well might hurt themselves, but if you’re between them they will hurt you. They are already! Don’t be there to be hurt.

2. Along with that, learn to detach. Physically, if you need to: simply don’t be anywhere near there when they fight; walk away. When you can manage it, learn to do that emotionally: “they’re doing that but I have no opinion or feeling about it”, “it’s not me, and it’s not about me”. Detach.

3. Take care of yourself. With their clear intent to make points against each other, you are not being “parented” as you should be. You need to continue to shoulder more responsibility for your own welfare. Don’t contribute money to their feuds, other than the minimal amount that you might feel that you owe them for your support. You don’t owe them their own support. (You shouldn’t owe them your own, either, unless you’re of legal age to move out and owe money for your own room and board.)

4. Make plans to move, the sooner, the better.

This is more damaging to you than you know, because it’s affecting how you will view conflict in your own relationships as you age. Conflict is inevitable. We all have conflicts and disagreements from time to time even with those we hold dearest. But those conflicts can be managed, tamed and restrained to “the issues” without such terrible effect on our emotions and feelings for each other. If you’re going to be a healthy adult, you will have to learn to fight – strongly! – for something that you believe in against someone that you love with all your heart, and still be able to love them even more after the fight is over. You may not think that’s possible right now. That’s an unfortunate symptom of what this is doing to you.

kimchi's avatar

Aw, Dear! It’s fine. Every parent in the whole wide world goes fighting like a bomb…. Trust me, I have personal experience. Sit down with your parents and talk about how you feel uncomfortable and/or mad/sad. They will understand. I hope this helped, and I hope you and your parents work this out. Good luck, and good job for enduring all this pain. :)

wundayatta's avatar

It occurred to me that you might not be American. While I believe my advice holds true no matter who you are, if you are Asian, the cultural expectations are so different, that my advice may be impossible to follow. In any case, if you are not from the American culture, it would be useful to know.

Crystalclear's avatar

I’m not living in the states, I’m Asian. It’s always easier said than done, especially because my parents don’t listen to me in that way. When I tell them “please think about me when you fight, I’m getting hurt” my mum just answers “you’re still a kid, what do you know.”
That’s why i don’t have the courage to tell them once again I’m hurt and they better think about me. When they get caught up in anger and frustration they can’t think straight :s

wundayatta's avatar

Here’s a crazy idea. Maybe the next time they fight, you go up to them and just start screaming and holding your hands over your ears. This way, they can’t hear themselves fight, and you draw attention to yourself. Maybe they will wonder what you are doing.

If they think you can’t understand, then perhaps this will demonstrate that you truly don’t understand (and this may true). But it demonstrates in a way that doesn’t attack them that much that you can’t stand it.

Now they may or probably will get angry with you. Perhaps they will get angry enough to try to hit you, but that may be better than having them go at each other. It’s a risky approach, but it might work once. It might jolt them out of their habits.

Since you’re Asian, I can’t suggest that you have them go to therapy. Asians tend not to believe in mental health and therapy. It brings shame to the families. That’s the other thing that screaming does. It might make them think about the family, since by screaming, you risk bringing shame on the family if friends and neighbors hear. In other words, you side track the issues.

But you’re really stuck unless you are willing to take risks because your culture does not admit to the existence of family problems. The police ignore them. Your father is right. Your mother is not doing her duty by obeying his every whim and wish. This is powerful stuff that you are up against.

Traditionally, where possible (and it is different in every culture in Asia), it is sometimes possible for women to go back home to their parents. But again, it depends. It’s different in China (possible) than Tibet (impossible) and different still in Bali or Vietnam. It depends on the tribes your people come from and whether you live in an urban or rural area and what kind of education you’ve had and whether you’ve spent time in the US and so many other things.

Sometimes, you have to do the unthinkable and leave. You risk being cut off from your family. You risk being seen as a whore. But it may be better in the long run than staying in that toxic environment, which is giving you stress and will cause psychological problems for you for a long time in the future—problems you are unlikely to get help for unless the culture changes rapidly, or you move to the US. Even if you did come to the US, you’d need a therapist with a strong knowledge of your culture, and they may not exist.

So asking us for help is not likely to get you much good advice because most of us don’t understand what your life is like. All we can say is that we are sorry you are going through this and wish you luck. I think it is still true you can do little, so you must protect yourself. You must learn that you are not at fault. Your parents are bringing shame on your family, yes, but you don’t have to take that shame. You need to learn how not to take it on, if you are to avoid a lot of shame problems in the future.

Mbass's avatar

Talk to a school councillor for support. Be patient. Time flies and soon , very soon you’ll be well on your own. Many have survived the crappiest of childhoods. Rise above. There is an end to everything. And remember, suffering is optional. Learn from it. Namaste

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