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Family Groups - children - Help for kids

'Dad's no angel but how can I stop mum bad-mouthing him?'

Q: I'm having real trouble at home at the moment. I live with my mum, my sister, and my mum's fiancé. I used to get on really well with him until he went out one Friday a few months ago, got completely pissed out of his head, came back, and had a massive row with my mum. When I stuck up for her he started bad-mouthing my dad. I haven't spoken to him since, and my mum is really getting on my case. I'm 16 so I can't leave home. She dictates everything and really bad-mouths my dad as well.

Ok, so dad's no angel, but he's my dad and he's the only one I've got. They were arguing with me all through my GCSEs – if they've ruined my chances I'll go mental. I prepared so hard for them, but all I got was grief while I was doing them. I'm sick of my mum going on at me about my dad. She expects me to sort everything out when it's not my place. Dad was out of work for a while so he couldn't pay her child maintenance. He's got a new job now, and he is slowly paying her back, but it's not good enough for her, she wants it all now. The whole of her family hate my dad. I don't expect them to like him, he did treat my mum badly, but I hate it when they talk about him the way they do when me and my sister are with them. It's not fair. They say all these awful things and then expect me to go and stay with him, and play happy families.

My mum makes things worse for me all the time. She is constantly picking holes in everything. She says I spend too much time in my room, so I go out with my friends. Then she says I'm staying out too late. Me and my friends look older than we are, so we tend to socialise with people who are a little older than us. She can't stand it. She wants so much from me, but I can do nothing right. I hate living at home but I can't afford to leave because I'm staying on for 6th form, so I won't be able to work full-time, only at the weekends.

I've considered going to live with my dad, but he lives about an hour away, so I would have to move schools, and I've worked too hard to get into the school I'm at just to walk away. It's a constant battle with her at the moment and I don't know what to do. Can you help?
Em, 16.
our online advisors reply:
Hi Em, I'm glad you got in touch with us. It sounds like it really upsets you when your dad is spoken of negatively. This must be very isolating for you. You probably want support from your mum, particularly now that you are studying, and you don't seem to be getting it.
I realise it might seem difficult, but do you think you could talk to your mum about how you feel? Sometimes, without realising it, parents get caught up in their own bad feelings about each other when they separate. They might forget how talking about those feelings could affect other members of the family.
Expressing yourself in the right way can be very difficult or awkward with someone close – it can be so easy to get into an argument and just make things worse. You seem to be quite angry with your mum, for lots of different reasons. If you decide to try talking to her, it will really help if you can stay calm, and not bring up everything all at once. Another good idea is to try and talk about how you feel instead of blaming her and her fiancé. Hopefully, with time and communication, your mum and her fiancé might be able to understand what to say around you.
I have included links to a couple of sites that gives advice on communicating with parents. To view them just click on the link below:
It might help to talk all this through first with someone who isn't closely involved. Is there anyone you could talk to, perhaps a teacher or school counsellor? You could also contact ChildLine and talk to one of the advisors there. The number, which is free and won't show up on the phone bill, is 0800 11 11. You can call any time, but the lines are usually less busy from about 3.30pm to 9pm.
Coping with family changes, and developing step-parent relationships, can be hard. You might find some useful information in our articles about stepfamilies or families at loggerheads.
It might help you to know that a lot of couples break up and still have a loving and supportive relationship with their children. Again, it is about communication and adjusting to changes. It may help to remind yourself that although your parents may not want to be together anymore they can still love you.
I hope this has helped.

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