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Ask a Professional: Family conflict

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Ask a Professional: Family conflict

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Ask a Professional: Family conflict

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Hey there everyone

I am pretty much at a loss and struggling not to sink any lower into my depression. My Miss17 is just awful and blames everything on her dad (my husband). He is stubborn and set in his ways so it makes the situation much worse. There is a blow up at our house at least once a week. It cuts me to my core. I try talking to Miss17 about it and I try talking to her dad about it but I just seem to make things worse. Sometimes I think that my daughter and I should just move out and find somewhere else to live together. Her older brother is also hurting at some of the things she says about her dad (and me). There is so much more to this situation but honestly I am so exhausted from it all that I don't even have the energy to write much more. I don't actually think anyone can help me but maybe putting this out there will do something. Sorry everyone. I am really not in a good way.


Dear @BonnieMum

It is no wonder that you are feeling exhausted with how much work you have been putting in to try to help your family. It sounds like there is just so much pressure on you at the moment.

In situations like these, when there is conflict in the family, and one of the parents feels that they need to try to defuse the situation or be a peacemaker, it can be really hard for that parent because often they find themselves caught in the middle and not really able to help the situation. Sometimes when they try to get family members to see the other person’s point of view, they may be accused of being ‘on the other side’ of the argument. I’m not sure if this resonates with you, but if it does it could be part of why you feel exhausted and disheartened.

These can be the types of situations where family therapy can be a helpful approach. The role of family therapy is to allow members of the family to communicate better with each other, and notice and change patterns of behaviour which lead to problems in the family.

The value of having a professional (who is external to the family) to lead discussions is that often family members will respond differently to a professional than they may be responding to you, because they expect the professional to be neutral and can be more willing to listen to alternative points of view. The process of therapy aims to allow family members to express their feelings and needs in a way which they aren’t currently able to do, and find ways to interact which don’t escalate conflict.

If this is something that you think may be helpful to you and your family, you could see if this is something they would be willing to try. Your GP can advise on local services, or you could contact Relationships Australia (

Whether or not family therapy is something your family is willing to try, it’s important that you have support with what you are going through and to help you find ways to navigate the situation without becoming so drained.

When you are feeling exhausted and in a situation where you are constantly on edge waiting for the next blow-up, it can be hard to focus energy on yourself and your own wellbeing. Given you’ve mentioned that you’re struggling with depression, I really encourage you to talk to your GP about seeing a mental health professional, if you aren’t already linked with professional support.

I also wonder if your family is aware of how tough you are finding things, particularly your husband? It can be really hard to talk about your needs when the rest of the family is having a tough time. However, communication about needs is so vital to healthy relationships. There might be things your husband would be able to change or to help with, if he realised how you were feeling.

Best wishes,

Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families, in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.