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How Do I Stop Arguing with My Parents?

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From a young woman in the U.S.: Hello, I  am a 21-year-old college student and I live with my parents. Recently the past few months I have been constantly arguing with my parents a lot. Today we had the worst argument ever.

It all started when I was in the kitchen with my mom, my dad had gotten home from work and My mom and I were trying to figure out what to eat. My dad was with us, he came into the kitchen wanting to fix something, but out of nowhere my mom with an attitude tells me “Tell your dad what happened” and my immediate response to her was “Okay, but do not yell at me that way”

as soon as I said that my dad said “shes not yelling at you” but I responded back saying “yes she was” and when I said that i decided to just walk away and my dad said, “you see, you get mad over everything”

I then left to my room and sat there but I could hear my dad say “We are always fighting/arguing in this house”; and well I do remember i responded him back but it led to my mom coming into my room and wanting to hit me, and I could see it in her face how mad she was and said “;Im tired of your shit, you better keep your mouth shut and that attitude” But I kept telling her that I did not give her an attitude. Then my dad started saying he was tired of being here always arguing and that he preferred to leave, saying they would leave me with my aunt. And I told them that I wanted to stay on my own here, but my mom responded back saying “you’ll die, you can’t even cook and even work” which of course that hurt me so much.

And I started crying, fast forward I wanted to keep things peacefully. but as soon as my mom started yelling at me, her look in her eye seemed like she wanted to kill me or something. and I kept telling them I am a good daughter and do not want to argue. I just don’t know who is in the wrong here. But I swear I didn’t want to argue. I feel like my mom has this bad anger with me and my dad a bit.

How Do I Stop Arguing with My Parents?

Answered by on -

A.

The way to stop arguing is to stop arguing. Arguing with your parents when their perspective is so different from yours is a losing situation. You can’t win. So get out of the contest.

One of my teachers used to tell us that the best way out of fights is to take the “sail out of someone’s wind.” I know. That’s backwards from the usual expression. But think about it. When someone is huffing and puffing with anger and yelling irrational things, they need you to respond to justify their behavior. If you respond in kind, you are giving them a pay off for the yelling.

If instead, you “lower your sail” and calmly say something like “I’m really sorry you feel that way. I’ll try to do better,” if usually deflates them.

Sometimes, when I tell this story, people reply that it isn’t fair or isn’t right or why should they give in? To which I reply “Do you need to be right or do you want to end the fight?” Rational discussions don’t happen in the middle of a fight. You can’t be rational when you are dealing with someone’s irrationality. Drop your sail. You can alway go back later — if  the other person is willing — and talk about how to not let it happen again. That’s a big “if”. If the other person needs the fight or needs to “win”, don’t waste your breath.

I am curious why your mother thinks you can’t take care of yourself. Is that at all justified? If so, maybe a way to reduce the tension in the house is to ask her to teach you to cook or how to maintain a household. Those are important skills for you to hone while you are still home.

I also wonder if your family is among those who have been quarantined these last few months. It could be that something you said was the lightening rod for your parents’ anxieties about the pandemic and perhaps financial worries. If so, the way to deal with that is to see if they would be willing to talk about how all of you can manage in the days and weeks ahead without getting on each others’ nerves.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do I Stop Arguing with My Parents?

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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. (2020). How Do I Stop Arguing with My Parents?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/07/21/how-do-i-stop-arguing-with-my-parents/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 20 Jul 2020 (Originally: 21 Jul 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 20 Jul 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.