Abuse

Family
Problems

Drinking
& Drugs

Resource Directory

Different kinds of family problems

Separation
Divorce
An alcoholic or drug addicted parent
An abused parent
An abusive parent
Parents who nag or criticize
Parents who are overprotective
Parents who fight
A parent's remarriage

Dealing with family problems
Do I have a family problem?

Separation

Separation can often be a couple’s first step towards trying to improve their relationship although it can also be the first step towards a breakup or divorce.

Don’t blame yourself for your parents’ separation. They are adults and are trying to work out problems between them the best way they know how.

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Divorce

Divorce of your parents may leave you feeling anxious, withdrawn or depressed. These intense feelings may express themselves as shame, anger, grief or poor performance in school.

Some kids describe their parents’ divorce as the most painful experience of their childhood. So allow yourself to feel the pain, but try to keep making the best choices you can to take care of yourself and also to be fair to your parents.

Remember that your parents are also going through a difficult time. Both of them are still your parents and you should never have to take sides if you don’t want to.

It helps to talk. If you can’t tell your parents how you feel, find another adult you can trust like a friend’s parent, school counsellor or relative.

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An alcoholic or drug addicted parent

An alcoholic or drug addicted parent can make you sad or anxious. If they are struggling with addiction, they are probably not able to care for you well or give you much attention. This can be very difficult to deal with.

Remember, it’s not your fault – even if your parent tries to blame you for their problems. The best way to cope is to talk to someone you trust who might convince your parent to get help.

Take care of yourself as well, and try to talk to someone about how the problem has been affecting you.

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An abused parent

An abused parent’s low self-esteem may keep them from seeking help to escape their abusive relationship. They may be anxious and depressed and take it out on you.

Again, talk to someone you can trust – someone who might be willing to talk to your parent and get them the help they need before the situation gets worse.

You may find it helpful to speak to a counsellor at school, who help you see the problem from a different point of view and help you find resources.

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An abusive parent

An abusive parent has no right to abuse you. Child abuse is against the law. This includes abuse of any minors (under 18).

No parent, step-parent, relative or friend of the family is allowed to abuse you – physically, sexually or emotionally. 

Don't feel badly about looking out for yourself. Tell someone right away – an adult you trust. If they don't help, tell someone else until you find help. Remember that it is never your fault when someone abuses you. Their behaviour is wrong, and not related to anything you did.

If you being abused and you are 15 or under, Children's Aid can help. Find an Ontario Children's Aid in your area here.

If you are 16 or older, email us at help@covenanthouse.ca and one of our counsellor can help you get the support you need, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.

If you are in immediate danger, phone 911.

For more info on dealing with abuse, click here.

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Parents who nag or criticize

Parents who nag or criticize can make you frustrated or angry. Sometimes parents have a hard time realizing that you are growing up and becoming more independent.

It can help to keep your parents on your side by showing love, appreciation and interest in them and being as pleasant to them as you want them to be to you. Parents want to know you’re listening.

Show that you listen and understand their criticism by repeating what they say in a respectful way. Get them to talk about what they did as teenagers – this may remind them of what you’re going through.

Sometimes parents criticize you too much or even put you down. Try talking to your parents or writing them a letter about how you feel. If that doesn’t work, talk to an adult you trust about it.

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Parents who are overprotective

Parents who are overprotective usually make rules because they love you and don't want you to get hurt. Keep them up on the important things going on in your life and introduce them to your friends.

Show them that you understand their fears. For example, “I understand you think it’s not safe for me to go out late on Saturday night but I promise to tell you where I’m going and who I’m going with."

If you can’t talk to them without getting upset, write a letter. Let them know you are thinking about how they feel, and then spell out your own point of view.

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Parents who fight

Parents who fight can be upsetting or disturbing. When they are calm, tell your parents that their fighting bothers you. Try to understand each parent's point of view – don’t feel you have to take sides. If they are insensitive to your feelings, go for a walk, phone a friend or do something else to avoid watching them fight.

If their fights are physical, you should talk to an adult you trust like a relative, a counsellor or a family friend before it gets out of control – especially if there is a danger that you or your siblings will get hurt.

If your home isn't a safe place and you are 15 or under, Children's Aid can help. Find an Ontario Children's Aid in your area here.

If you are 16 or older, email us at help@covenanthouse.ca and one of our counsellor can help you get the support you need, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.

If you are in immediate danger, phone 911.

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A parent's remarriage

A parent's remarriage can be confusing and stressful. It might help to do something nice for your step-parent, to break the ice. Let them know you understand that they are in love and need time alone with your parent. If you feel left out, talk to your parent and find a compromise.

Remember that your step-parent is not replacing your other parent. This can be a difficult time for your other parent, but try not to get caught up with their feelings too much. You shouldn’t have to take sides between your parents if you don’t want to.

If your step-parent is unkind or disrespectful to you, talk to your parent or an adult you trust.

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