How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship with Your Parents


    Damon Jochum, Monica Jochum, and Daniel Jochum having a conversation. Photo Courtesy of S. Jochum.

    Parents. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. “I love my parents but I wish they would understand me,” explained an anonymous BYMS 8th grade student. Teens sometimes have difficulties communicating with their parents, however, it is important for teens to know how to maintain this relationship. The Matador Messenger brings you the first in the “How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship” series with parents.

    “Teens and conflict go hand in hand,” stated Susan Gilles, licensed clinical social worker practicing in Orange, California. As a teen, maintaining a relationship with parents can be difficult. However, she also continues to explain maintaining this relationship can provide fewer arguments.

    According to a recent Matador Messenger sponsored Survey Monkey of 200 BYMS students, approximately 91% of participants indicated that when conflicts between occur between students and parents, the students try to resolve it. When asked how they solve conflict with their parents, 27.27% of the students often talk through the conflict with their parents, 18.8% compromise, 17.35% maintain space, and 13.13% agree to disagree.

    Even though students indicated that they use a number of techniques to help solve conflicts with parents, the top question participants asked in the survey was, “How do I solve a conflict?”

    “Listen, listen, listen.  This doesn’t mean you have to agree with what the other person is saying, but listening allows you the opportunity to actually hear what the other person thinks, feels or intends.”

    Susan Gilles indicated that solving a conflict begins first by listening carefully to the other side. “Listen, listen, listen.  This doesn’t mean you have to agree with what the other person is saying, but listening allows you the opportunity to actually hear what the other person thinks, feels or intends,” advised Gilles.

    Courtesy of

    Being able to first identify the reason behind a conflict could unlock the key for solving them. Out of the 200 total student participants, 19.19% identified a common conflict between them and parents is what they can and what they can’t do, 19% miscommunication, 16.16% grades, 14.29% responsibility, 12.4% hanging out with friends, and 10.2% indicated chores.


    “Most conflict stems directly or indirectly from either a miscommunication of one’s thoughts, feelings or intentions, or a misinterpretation of another person’s thoughts, feelings or intentions. These misinterpretations and miscommunications play out daily on a spectrum ranging from relative insignificance to potentially life changing significance,” Susan Gilles stated.

    “On the smaller side of the scale, teens my experience conflict over their choice in hair color, their choice of friends, the importance of attending college, or the distribution of tasks in a group science project.   Miscommunication and inaccurate assumptions can also significantly impact the way teens experience conflict over fundamental beliefs about religion, politics, race, gender roles, sexuality, etc,” according to Gilles.

    Gilles recommends using “I” statements when trying to resolve a conflict with a parent. “Talk about your feelings rather than the other person’s behavior.  For example, ‘I felt hurt when the whole family started teasing me about my new haircut.’  Instead of ‘You guys suck!  Who cares what you think anyway!’”  

    “‘I’” statements open up a dialogue for improved understanding.  ‘You’ statements create defensiveness in others which shuts down dialogue,” explains Gilles.  

    “Having a good relationship with your parents is a two-way thing. If teens do their part, the relationship will improve and you will have fewer arguments with them. You will then notice that your parents are more understanding towards you. We can all work together to build better teenager- parents relationship,” added

    Being brought up in different generations create deep-seated implications, from differences in communication style, mindset, world views, philosophy on life, way of expressing love, and so on, reported

    “Often, the relationship between you and your parents is affected by your parents’ relationship to each other,” said Placentia Yorba Linda School District’s Esperanza High School’s crisis counselor Tom Craik in a direct interview with the Matador Messenger. “For example, if your parents are fighting with each other, you are more likely to fight with them.”

    Although conflicts cause difficulties, they may be essential in helping a teen to grow and develop. “The reason for this conflict often stems from the critical developmental task of adolescence:  forming an identity.  This important process includes figuring out who they are, how they define themselves, and which values they stand for or against.  Teens are learning how to integrate this fledgling identity with what they have been taught by their families, their peers and their larger community,” Gilles explained.

    Although teens may have a difficulty maintaining a relationship with their parents, it isn’t impossible. Next time you aren’t getting along with your parents, make sure to follow this advice and be prepared for challenges ahead.

    Within every family, there are different personalities; some of them may clash. “With my mom, she can be very stubborn, opinionated, and difficult. With my dad, he’s very quiet and inexpressive. Our personalities don’t gel at all, and this made it very difficult for me when I was trying to work through the relationship at the beginning,” stated Celes Chua, the founder of

    Chua began resolving her issues with her parents by first realizing this relationship can’t be changed overnight and “To improve your relationship with your parents is an ongoing, work-in-process goal — an end point does not exist.”

    Tom Craik





    Susan Gilles