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How to Communicate to Parents Without Getting Angry

I regularly mentor and spend time with young adults, who are struggling with various issues and/or need advice on next steps in life.  This column is put together through personal experience, stories I’ve heard from teens, and wise counselors that have steered me towards the right direction.  I’m hardly an expert, so just consider it as advice from a big sister.  


How to Communicate to Parents without Getting Angry 

I struggle with this sometimes, especially with my parents and relatives.  I love them so much, but they have little appreciation for what I do as an artist.  They don’t understand why I would choose art over a better income, and I have a hard time communicating to them why it’s important to me.  Over the years, this same issue has created a lot of hurt and anger in my heart.  At first I just ignored their criticism, but it got to the point that every few months, I would blow up at them randomly because something they said triggered the wound.

Here are a few steps I took to remedy my situation.  It’s still a work in progress, but these steps have helped.


1) Identify Reoccurring Cycles

Parents love to repeat themselves, and you’ve probably heard some of the same things over and over again.  Identify why some of the same topics repeat, and how that affects you.  For example, Sally generally has her room messy.  She’s too busy with school and extracurricular activities to clean it up everyday.  Sally’s mom is afraid that Sally will grow up to be a slob, so every time mom walks by her room, she mentions to Sally how awful her room is and how she should clean it up.  The more her mom brings it up, the more Sally despises cleaning her room and being in the house.  To get away from criticism, Sally throws herself into more extracurricular activities, which in turn gives her even less time to clean her room.  The cycle repeats.

2) Negotiate a New Solution

After you identify the cycle, be very honest and have a heart to heart with your parents.  This can be tough, but it’s important to bring up why the cycle exists.  Write a script and practice it beforehand so that your thoughts are gathered, and so that you can speak to your parents respectfully.  Part of the new solution is that you will have to accept more responsibilities.  Let’s take a look at Sally’s script, “Mom, I know that you’ve been wanting me to clean my room, and I apologize about not being better about picking up after myself.  I feel as if we’ve been distant towards each other because of this very reason, and I want to change that.  Every time you walk by my door and mention how messy my room is, I feel unwanted and unworthy, which doesn’t make me want to clean my room, it just makes me want to leave the house.  I am busy, but I will try to clean my room more from now on.  I just want to ask that you please be more encouraging and notice my improvements rather than just my flaws.  I am more willing to do things with positive reinforcement.”

3) Appreciate Yourself

Your parents may have birthed you, but they aren’t the ones that determine your worth.  Know that even when you do something to be proud of, they may not be impressed.  Take pride in your own efforts without needing your parents or someone else to praise you.   Be excited about self improvement, and you’ll learn that you’ll go much further in life than someone who always depend on other’s approval.


Now that you’ve gleamed some new insight, pass it onward to your friends and family!

Email if you have stories of your own that you would like to share or if you’re interested in guest blogging.  

I'm Ling - a 23 year old senior portrait photographer from Houston TX. This column is a spin-off of my photography blog, and it's for the teens I mentor and encounter from my day to day life.

Email me at if you have stories of your own to share.