Family life is full of disagreements about relationships. These relationships might be within the family or could be out with the family. Learning how to deal with difficult relationships will make life a whole lot happier and easier for everyone.

  • Being in care
  • Step parents
  • New brothers and sisters
  • Boyfriends and girlfriends
  • Friendships
  • The way we talk to each other
  • Physical, verbal or sexual abuse
  • Moving out
  • Moving back home
  • I feel unloved
  • I don’t think anyone cares
  • I get angry
  • I want to leave home
  • I hate being in the house
  • I feel frustrated
  • I shut down
  • I have no one to talk to

What can I do to make things better?

  • What do you need?

    Try to explain to the other person what you need and why rather than what the problem is. Example:


    “I’m not doing what he tells me, he’s not my real dad.”


    “I’m finding this tough having a new person in the house. I just need some space and time to get used to it."

    If you or someone you know is being harmed in any way – physically, verbally or sexually, tell someone about it.

  • See it from their side

    Try and see the situation from the other person’s shoes. Example:

    Person 1

    “You didn’t even want me, I ended up living with foster families for years.”

    Person 2

    “I was really struggling with things when you were born. I have always wanted you. Now that things are back on track it would be great to build a relationship.”

  • Be honest

    Ask questions and explain how you feel.

    Can you explain why you don’t want me to see Person X? I really like them and this is why ….."

  • Consider alternatives

    Consider lots of options to solve the problem.


    “Our house is way too over crowded. We’re constantly arguing, there’s not enough space, it’s a horrible place to be. I feel trapped”

    The reality is it’s getting more difficult for young people to move out when they turn 16 and find their own place.


    Is there stuff you could do to get you out the house more; job, clubs, friends?

    Are there other family members you could stay with maybe once a week to give you a break?

Time and Space

Finding a good time and place to talk with your family about stuff is important.

Make sure you won’t be interrupted by anyone else.

Choose a time where you are both around - not 5 minutes before one of you has to run out the door.

It helps if you’re not already angry with each other about something else.

Conflict Resolution and Mediation

After working through the steps above and considering your own situation, you may find it helpful to know more about conflict resolution and mediation.

Sam is much happier now that he and his mum know how to deal with their arguments better.

If you get together and talk about it, I've often seen people come up with much better solutions themselves.

Paul Burns, Mediator

We still have our arguments, but we deal with them a lot better now.

Kerry, Sam's Mum

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