Ask Jigsaw: Feeling trapped with parents arguing

Ask Jigsaw: Feeling trapped with parents arguing

Wednesday, 22 July 2020


I was just wondering if you have any advice of how to cope with feeling really trapped as a result of covid?

As usual, my parents are fighting non stop and I would normally just stay outside a lot longer or be with friends to avoid being at home and experiencing it, but now that I’m home all the time, I’ve been having to deal with it a lot more.

This has also often ended up with me getting in the middle of their conflict (often to side my mam) and then ending up arguing with my dad.

I just can’t help but feel hopeless as I wonder when things will be a bit normal, so that I don’t have to be at home all the time/ listen to them argue 24/7.

I can’t really talk to them about its impact on me as neither of them listen to anyone else’s views, apart from their own.

Anyway I don’t know if what I just said even makes sense but I’ve just been feeling really horrible recently and don’t know how to cope with it all, like it’s making me really dislike my parents (which I end up feeling guilty about- but that’s a whole different story).

Thanks 4 reading this and replying, if you do 🙂 x

– Lilah

Hi Lilah,

It makes total sense! Sounds like a lot of the challenges you were managing at home have become amplified due to COVID-19 restrictions. On top of that, some of your usual coping strategies aren’t available to you anymore. It’s important that you remember your parents’ fights are not your fault.

Jigsaw Clinician
It’s important that you remember your parents’ fights are not your fault.

Dealing with difficult situations

You mention that by getting involved in the arguments between your parents, it escalates and results in a feeling of hopelessness. I wonder if you’d be able to walk away as you did before – going on a walk within the current health guidelines and calling a friend, or putting headphones on in your room. It’s not your job to be the referee.

To learn new ways to cope during difficult times, it’s important to first think about how you normally react to stress. Developing this self-awareness can help you deal with it better in the future. During these arguments, you can pause and ask yourself:

  • How is this situation making me feel?
  • Why is it making me feel this way?
  • How do I want to respond to this?

It can be hard to be patient when you’re feeling trapped. It’s also okay to assert yourself and be clear that the behaviour is upsetting you. Your parents may not realize the impact it’s having. Assertive communication can be hard when you try initially, but it does get easier. Your needs and well-being are important too. If you feel unable to talk to your parents, perhaps try writing a letter to them to explain what is going on for you.

Most of us have had difficult relationships with people that we love and care about. Sometimes it can result in judgement or blaming ourselves for these challenges, when in reality others also need to take responsibility for their behaviors. So during these times, it’s important to speak positively towards yourself when something bad happens. Be aware of your inner critic!  It may be helpful to reach out and ask for help elsewhere, if you feel that you can’t speak with your family.

Take care,

Conor, Jigsaw Clinician

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