How to Build Strong Relationships With Your Parents, and Repair Them When Things Get Off Track

Supportive Relationships are Important

Supportive relationships with caring adults matter to your well-being. If your relationship with your parents has derailed, you can get it back on track. This article offers tips to build strong connections. The ideas come from over 500 teens from 40 different states.

Relationships Take Work

Relationships are complicated and take work. But they are worth the effort. And here are a few reasons why. 

  • People with strong connections are happier and emotionally healthier. When someone who cares shows you affection, feel-good chemicals are released in your body. This decreases your stress levels and boosts your mood.
  • Having a caring adult in your corner builds resilience. You are more likely to bounce back from challenging times when you have a trusted person to turn to for comfort, help, or advice.  
  • Close bonds with caregivers help you develop a clear sense of self. Family duties and traditions guide you towards figuring out who you are and what you care about.
  • Supportive relationships create feelings of belonging. Knowing that you belong helps you find meaning in life and better cope with difficult emotions.  
  • Relationships with parents offer practice for the future. Successful relationships involve respect, listening, and compromise. Learning to do this now gives you a head start for later.
It’s normal to begin pulling away from parents during the teen years. But it’s also important to make an effort to maintain a strong bond.

Build a Strong Bond

It’s normal to begin pulling away from parents during the teen years. But it’s also important to make an effort to maintain a strong bond. Get started by letting your parents into your world. Share about your interests, not just about school. What makes you curious? Who makes you LOL? Where do you feel most comfortable? They will appreciate getting to know the real you. Also, try to be more open about your full range of feelings. Don’t just share the exciting news. Let them in on what’s frustrating, upsetting, or disappointing you. 

Another way to connect is to spend time together. Invite them to join you in one of your hobbies. Find a show to binge watch together. Or, try something new with each other – explore a park you’ve never been to, learn a TikTok dance, or cook a new recipe.

Get Calm, Then Talk

If your relationship with your parents is stuck in a rut, or you find yourself at odds, it is not too late to try and mend things. It’s important to share your feelings even if it feels hard. Taylor Swift was on to something when she sang, ‘You need to calm down.’ We communicate best when calm. So, take some time to cool off before approaching your parents. Find something to help you relax. Go for a walk, take deep breaths, listen to music, take a warm shower, write, draw, or find a creative outlet. Once you are in your ‘calm’ era, you can approach the situation clearly. If talking feels overwhelming, consider writing about how you feel instead. Read this article on how to write a letter to jumpstart tough conversations. If you are ready to approach your parents, consider these conversation tips.

3 Tips to Repair Relationships

  1. Advocate. Part of growing up includes speaking up for your needs. To stand up for yourself, you must first know what you are asking for. Do some thinking about what you hope to accomplish in advance of the conversation. Parents are not mind-readers. Be prepared to share your feelings, needs, and concerns. Start with an ‘I’ statement to get the ball rolling – “I am upset that all we seem to talk about are my grades. It makes me feel stressed out. Can we focus on other things I’m doing, too?”
  2. Apologize. If you messed up, make a genuine apology. Take responsibility for your actions and any harm you may have caused. Explain what you will do to make up for the mistake. Tie the apology to the deed. “I’m sorry I came home late. I get why you were worried. I will call next time.” For more tips on apologizing, read The Power of an Apology
  3. Forgive. Start with forgiving yourself. Guilt is not a productive emotion. Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what you can do to improve the situation. If you are upset with your parents, try to put yourself in their shoes. They are human, too, and will make mistakes. Forgiveness does not imply you agree with their actions. Just that you are willing to move on and find a better path forward. 

There is no magic potion to solve all relationship problems. But these tips can help show your parents you want to try to make things better. You deserve to have adults that support you. If you do not have a parent that is willing or able to support you, reach out to other caring adults. This could include doctors, teachers, guidance counselors, relatives, coaches, or neighbors. They can help you talk to your parents or find other resources or solutions.  

About Elyse Salek

Elyse Salek, M.S.Ed. is an Administrative Director of Research at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Her degrees are in Psychology and Human Development from Middlebury College and the University of Pennsylvania School of Education. She is the proud mother of two children.

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