They say our differences bring us closer together, but this isn’t always the case when it comes to politics, religion, and other topics that can be sensitive.

It’s normal for us to disagree on things from time to time. We all hold our own values and beliefs, even if we share DNA. But it can range from a little uncomfortable to infuriating when we’re constantly clashing with our parents.

We hope these tips help you keep your cool and get along with your parents, even if you butt heads over the big stuff. Unless they have some truly toxic beliefs, your aim should be to get your point across while maintaining your relationship.

 

Stay calm

While it may be tempting to raise your voice or roll your eyes, this can quickly turn an uncomfortable conversation into a heated argument. Even if your parent is getting snarky, don’t match their attitude in response.

Avoid insulting or belittling them, and whatever you do, don’t tell them they’re wrong. This can feel judgemental and trigger defensiveness. If you think your parents are wrong, say “I disagree” instead, and explain why.

If you’re feeling really hurt or angry, take a deep breath and let them know you need to take a break and walk away.

 

Listen

Everyone is entitled to their opinion – no matter how different it might be from your own. Respect that your parents have their own beliefs based on their experiences, and listen to their point of view. Don’t interrupt. Don’t argue. Allow them to finish before you respond.

Of course, this doesn’t apply if you’re being spoken to in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. If your parents are yelling or using abusive language, tell them you’re going to walk away until you can have a calm and respectful conversation.

 

Don’t try to change their mind

If you find an opportunity to educate your parents – great! But remember there’s a difference between sharing information that supports your opinion, and forcing your beliefs onto other people.

Constantly trying to convince your parents to take your side can be exhausting. Remind yourself that it’s not your job to change their mind.

 

Know what topics to avoid

You don’t have to engage in conversations that make you feel upset or offended. If certain topics are causing too much tension or conflict in your relationship, it might be time to set some boundaries. Find an appropriate time to suggest you agree to disagree and keep that topic on lockdown for now.

If your parent continues to broach the subject to get a rise out of you, calmly tell them you’re not engaging, and walk away if you need to.

 

Separate your relationship from your disagreements

When someone disagrees with us on something we feel strongly about, it can be easy to let that difference of opinion impact our opinion of that person. But if you want to maintain your relationship, it’s important to try to separate your parent from their beliefs.

If they support you and treat you with respect outside of that disagreement, it might help to look at the bigger picture and keep this and all their other positive qualities in mind for next time.

 

If you need some extra support navigating tricky relationships, talking to a counsellor can help. Call 1300 364 277 to make an appointment with one of our counsellors in person, over the phone, or via Zoom video chat.