Ask someone to talk to your parents

Dear counsellor, 

My parents have been fighting at home for some time and this has started affecting me at school. At school all i think of are the fights at home, which affects my focus. How can I deal with this issue so that it stops affecting me at school? Akaliza

It’s really heartbreaking to undergo such a horrific experience of having to watch your parents yelling at each other and finally fighting. No single child deserves to grow up in such an environment. A key aspect of emotional development in children is learning how to regulate emotions. In fact, research has it that children who are more prone to negative emotions or episodes of anger are deeply affected by hostile and neglectful parenting, often leading to even more behavioural problems. It’s even clear that your parents’ fights can potentially pass long-term psychological, social and physical problems to you and can potentially impinge on the levels of your academic concentration.

This is outrageous but all you need to know is that it’s not your fault that things have gone out of control. While you’re certainly an important part of their life and family, they make decisions that are typically between the two of them and it’s purely their individual choice to chose to fight other than apply diplomatic and non violent ways to resolve conflict. Don’t allow this situation to interfere with your studies. Your parents are mature enough to figure out what’s right and wrong. They determine their own destiny; you decide your own future. This however should be a learning platform for you to discover that couples can disagree, and that anger is a normal legitimate emotion but disagreements can only be solved amicably and constructively without necessarily having to escalate into a fight.

Nonetheless, just because they don’t get along doesn’t mean they’re not good parents. If you feel you can do something to prevent them from fighting then do it.  Although you have no capacity to dictate the amount of love and respect that they should give to each other, talk to your parents about their marriage vows. Find a respectful way to remind them that they promised “for better or for worse” and feel free to inform them about how their fighting is worrying you and certainly affecting your academics. You might want to instead spend some time strengthening your own relationship with each of them individually and collectively, so that regardless of what happens, your relationship with each of them doesn’t deteriorate and try as much as possible to keep out of their conflict.

I recommend that you find other supportive family members and friends to talk with about your situation and how it’s affecting you both psychologically and academically.  Discuss the matter with your study mentor and trusted teacher to see how they can help you cope with your situation at school. You will be more resilient and live a cheerful life despite the challenges you’re undergoing.  Also, be geared up to call someone for help if you hear violence happening; violence is not a normal parental fight and it can lead to devastating consequences like death. Be strong, resilient and set your career goals straight because that’s the only direct route to your future happiness and self independence away from this crisis.