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How Do I Stop Nightmares about My Family?

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From Indonesia: Lately, I’ve been having a sleeping problem. I would either have bad dreams or suddenly bad thoughts come into my mind. The bad dreams that I’ve been having mostly about being chased, getting stuck or confronting something that makes me feel helpless and after that, I would wake up breathing heavily and panting.

In one dream, I was in a fist fight against my father and I couldn’t fight back. And if I can’t sleep, mostly the bad thoughts are about I being violent to my father. I never liked my father because since I was a kid, he was always a bully to me and rarely at home. My mother is no better because she is always being overprotective and seems to be always obedience to my father and often thinks in the same way as he does. The resentment stays within me until now and that makes me hate going home. How do I fix this problem?

How Do I Stop Nightmares about My Family?

Answered by on -


Often dreams are an unconscious attempt to solve a problem. In your case, the problem to solve is your relationship with your parents. Since you haven’t resolved it in your waking hours, you keep working at it in your dreams. A more useful approach would be to deal with the problem directly. Clearly, violence isn’t the answer. Conversation might be.

By all means, if you can, talk to your parents as the mature adult you are. That means being calm and rational while reviewing the past and working to establish a different kind of relationship for the future. Give them credit for whatever support and security they provided for you while you were growing up. Allow for conversation about what you all wish had been different. Share your hurts and accept whatever reasons and apologies they are able to give.

If a rational conversation isn’t possible, remind yourself that the past is in the past and that your focus needs to be on the present and future. You might find it helpful to take some emotional distance from your folks while remaining respectful. You didn’t mention whether you continue to live with them. If so, start making concrete and specific plans for moving out.

Not everyone gets the parents they wish they had. You are not likely to be able to change your parents. They are who they are. The good news is that you are 20. You are no longer a helpless little kid. You are no longer dependent on them.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do I Stop Nightmares about My Family?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). How Do I Stop Nightmares about My Family?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 20 Jul 2018 (Originally: 22 Jul 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 20 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.