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Parent-teen relations: Not always easy!

A parent-teen relationship can be complicated. Your parents and you have different needs and that can lead to conflicts and disagreements.

You can learn to resolve a family conflict! 🤝

It takes two to build a relationship, including one between a parent and child. You have no control over what your parents or other family members think 💭 and do – you only control yourself. So the important thing is for you to do your share 🛣! It’s never too late to work on certain attitudes you might have and adopt new ones.

Separation and blended families

It isn’t always easy to live with adult dramas!

Feeling guilty about a separation

A breakup, separation, or divorce can be hard on the children. Remember that you’re not responsible for the situation. Your parents’ marital problems concern them alone. They’re adults, and it’s their relationship with each other that is ending, not the fact that they’re parents. If all this is taking up too much space in your mind, tell someone about your worries: your parents, your siblings, another adult, or Tel-jeunes.

Separation is hard to go through

When parents separate, it changes a lot of things for their children. Who will have custody of the children? When will they stay with one parent or the other? Will one of the parents keep the current house or apartment? How will the furniture and other things be divided between the parents? Although the separation is decided on by adults, it has a big impact on your life too. So you have a right to talk about what you’re thinking and feeling and to be listened to.

Torn between separated parents

Even though your parents may be in conflict, you don’t have to choose one over the other! Your parents play an important role in your life. Try to keep a good relationship with both parents. Tell both of them about what you’re afraid of and what you feel about their separation. Don’t let one parent use you as a weapon against the other one, for example with emotional blackmail or competitiveness. If that happens, set limits and tell your parents what you’re feeling.

Getting on with a stepparent

It’s not always easy when a stepparent arrives on the scene… Despite everything, don’t immediately decide that he/she’s an enemy. Tell yourself that he/she is also working hard to adapt and define his/her role with you and your relationship. To make things easier, take an interest in him/her and what he/she does. If you think your stepparent is getting involved in things that are none of his/her business or being too bossy with you, talk about it with your parent.


When the new partner of one of your parents has kids, you have to adapt to them too! Try to find common ground with them so things will go as smoothly as possible. If you have problems with a half-sibling that you can’t settle between the two of you, quickly tell your parent to prevent the conflict from getting worse.

Frequently asked questions

How can I negotiate better with my parents?
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To negotiate better with your parents, use helpful attitudes: talk using “I,” name your emotions, and go step by step and one case at a time. Take the time to clarify what you need and communicate it clearly to your parents. Ask them if they have any fears related to what you’re saying, and take their emotions and needs into consideration. By keeping both your needs and your parents’ in mind, it will be easier for you to make a concrete, negotiable request. Then talk it over together. You’ll surely find a solution that suits all of you.

Should I tell my brother or sister’s secret?
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Maybe your brother or sister has told you a secret that worries, scares, or hurts you. Some secrets are too heavy to bear alone: for example, mental illness, violence, suicidal thoughts, sexual assault, or excessive drug or alcohol consumption.

If you’re really worried for your sibling or you think his/her life is in danger, ask for help quickly. You can talk to your parents, Tel-jeunes, a teacher, a counsellor, or even the police (911).

But beware! If you’re having a conflict with your sibling and you decide to reveal his/her secret to your parents just to get your revenge, think about the consequences! Your relationship could be damaged and he/she could lose trust in you. Put yourself in your sibling’s position: would you like your brother or sister to use a secret you’d confided against you?

My parents are overprotective. What can I do?
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If your parents overprotect you, talk about it with them. Ask them what their expectations are and identify the reasons why they’re acting like that. What can you do to reassure them? Negotiate new agreements with them, and explain what you’re ready to do to prove your good intentions.

Once you’ve reached an agreement, respect your promises: for example, come home on time or do the housework you’ve been assigned. The more you prove they can trust you, the more freedom they may give you. Be patient: nothing changes in a day, so give yourself time!

At what age do I have the right to leave home?
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At age 16, a teen has the right to leave his/her parents’ home and move into an apartment, just like a person over 18. However, some landlords will also require your parents’ agreement and signature, as well as proof that you’re responsible. For example, they want to make sure that you have a regular income that’s high enough to pay the rent.

Some very specific situations may also give a teen under 16 years old the right to live alone. He/she must then make a request for emancipation, that is, a request to receive rights reserved for adults. For example, if you’re pregnant at age 15 and your parents refuse to take care of you, you can request emancipation so you can receive social assistance benefits and be your child’s tutor.