Family issues

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

As I’ve been becoming older, I’ve been getting into arguments with my parents. But recently they’ve been happening more and more frequently and I’ve been getting more and more angry each time. Each argument has been about the same major topics: my behavior towards my siblings or how I “disrespect” my parents. But sometimes I can’t help what I say to my parents. If they’re in my face yelling about what I just said or how I forgot to do something, how can I not yell back? My parents say its disrespect, but I feel that they have no respect for me when they’re yelling in my face. But the topic we argue most about is my little brother. He’s 7 and if I do the slightest thing to him he goes and tells and I get the whole “you’re older and need to grow up speech”. I’m sick of it. I feel that they can’t see that my little brother does things that really bother me, and I’m not being dramatic. Like today, my little brother does this thing where he just touches me. I HATE when he does this because it’s COMPLETELY unnecessary. So I hit him back, not that hard just a slap in the arm. Just so happens my dad was walking by at the same exact time. When he saw this he immediately got in my face, hit my arm (and I had to fight back the urge to hit my dad right back), and started giving me a speech (which during I was completely being a smart aleck because I felt this whole thing was not my fault). When my mother got home I got the same speech from her, but she just didn’t understand how I felt! Then while I was in the room right next to the kitchen they started to discuss what they should do to that “devil”. But my defense is that my little brother is just very dumb and a wimp and that my parents baby him too much. But to avoid these confrontations I feel the only way to do this is to COMPLETELY IGNORE my whole family. I’ve been doing this by sleeping all day and my schoolwork is suffering, I also barely eat because of sleeping all day. But these arguments always seem to find their way into my life. Is there any way to get my parents to understand me? How do I deal with 7-year-old brother? Can I just keep ignoring them? Please do not treat his as a teenager being dramatic, this is a serious cry for help. After some of these arguments I’ve hurt myself. I scratched my arm with tweezers and today I dug my own nails into my arm. Some of these arguments have resulted in me almost getting smacked in the face by my dad. I’ve also cried for hours before. So please I’m begging for help.

A: Thank you for your letter. I hope I can offer something useful.

Fifteen is a rough age because you are in-between everything, and are just starting to see weak spots in your family and the world. It is very normal for teenagers and their parents to go at it during this time, and for the siblings to throw in with the mix as well. But I understand the fact that it is common doesn’t offer much comfort.

Probably the best-known book about teenage girls is Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls written by Mary Pipher. I’d recommend reading it—see if you agree with the author, then ask your parents to read it. Sometimes an outside source can help make the change.

But my guess is that you are going to need a few sessions of family therapy. The fact that you are hurting yourself because of all this demands something is done sooner rather than later. I would ask your parents directly to have you talk to a therapist, and then explains to the therapist what is happening. More than likely the therapist will engage at least one of your parents, if not the whole family.

Don’t suffer in silence with this. If your parents are not willing to take you to a therapist, talk to the school counselor or a trusted teacher. He or she will be able to help get the ball rolling.

This may be a tough time for you, but there are many good things waiting for you as you move through high school. As you are seeking some peace within the family, keep developing interests outside of the home: Clubs, sports, classes, etc. Work on developing yourself, not focused any on the family feud.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Apr 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Family issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/04/02/family-issues/

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