Shona Manson is a mediator with Family Mediation Shetland
I am a 17-year-old guy who has just left home as I can’t stand my mum and dad’s nagging any more. They want me to get a job, get a haircut, change my girlfriend – everything I do is wrong. I’m trying to find a job but it’s not easy. I’m sleeping on a friend’s couch but can’t be there long. The housing department say I can present as homeless but will probably end up in some awful shared flat. Maybe I should just go home, but I’m worried it will be more of the same. I’m almost an adult, why won’t they listen to me?
The transition of moving into adulthood is seldom smooth. You don’t mention if there has been any communication with your parents since you left. Would you be able to meet them somewhere neutral to calmly talk about whether returning home is an option and, if so, how you will manage living together?
Your parents have no doubt placed all their hopes and dreams on you. As you begin to explore your own dreams and test ways of doing things, this can be difficult for parents. Your local family mediation project may be able to offer you intergenerational mediation, where the three of you could meet with a mediator in a neutral environment and be helped to explore how you can make your relationships become less conflicted and stressful.
Even if you end up not returning to your family home, there is still huge potential benefit to meeting with your parents with the aim of re-establishing a positive and supportive relationship with them. Try to remember that this stage in your life won’t last forever.
THE FINAL STRAW
I am a single mother of an almost 16-year-old girl. She has sporadic contact with her father, who lives nearby with his new partner and two children. I am at my wits’ end with my daughter, who seemed to get on well with my partner until he moved in recently. Now she’s impossible to be around and, after a massive row, is threatening to go and live with her father (who I’m not sure will have her). I don’t want to see her on the streets but I have to think about the impact her behaviour has on the rest of us.
This sounds difficult for everyone – not least your daughter, who no doubt feels the world is against her. Once she is 16, legally she can choose where she wants to live but, ideally, that decision should be made with the support of you and her father. You mention your partner has recently moved in. Have you clarified the role he will play? Does he have a role in discipline?’ How involved do you/does he want to be in household decisions?
Try to talk calmly to your daughter about your row, confirming your love for her, and work together to sort out what should happen next. If she does move out, try to maintain a supportive relationship wherever she goes. While the 15-year-old may challenge you, she’s still just a little girl trying to work out her place in the world.
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