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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Living with your parents

As you grow up, there will be times when you won't always see eye to eye with your parents or guardians. However, if you're having problems living at home, moving out is not the only option.You may be able to resolve any issues you're having with your parents if you can set up ground rules and follow these.  If you're unsafe at home, you should get in touch with Social Services or speak to an advice agency urgently. 

Set some ground rules

You may feel that in your family, your parents or guardians make the rules and you have only two choices: obey the rules, or break them. However, it doesn't have to be this way. As you grow up, it's important that you and your parents begin to set ground rules together, and to make mutually acceptable decisions about issues such as privacy and personal space or when and how often you go out.

Try to negotiate rather than argue, and be prepared to compromise.  If they're particularly adamant about certain points, ask them why, rather than arguing about it, and listen to their reasoning. They probably have your best interests at heart and just want you to be safe and happy. If they're worried about you, you may be able to set their minds at rest.

Give way on the little things and you might win on the big things. Not that bothered about cutting back on hours in front of the television but desperate to stay over at your boyfriend or girlfriend's? Give in on the television.

Follow our top tips

If you want to be treated like an adult, it's important to act like one. Here are some tips for gaining your parents' respect and trust.

  • do your bit around the house: look after younger brothers or sisters, do the washing or cook the family a meal.
  • if you want your parents to stay out of your bedroom, keep it tidy. Don't give them an excuse to go in.
  • don't exclude your parents from your life - try spending time with them every so often. If they realise you're not avoiding them, they're more likely to trust you and, in turn, give you some space.
  • try not to lie - if you get caught, this will only make things worse and destroy your parents' trust in you.
  • don't argue over every little thing you disagree with. That way, when it comes to the big stuff, you'll have more force.

Talk it through

If you have a problem with the way your parents are treating you, for example, if they're nagging or lecturing you or refusing to compromise on house rules, talk to them about it. They may not even realise they're upsetting you.

Don't get angry and shout or swear - your parents will just switch off. If you are angry, wait until you've calmed down, then discuss things rationally later on. Pick a good moment, when your parents aren't busy and can pay attention to what you're saying.

Put forward your side of the story, then ask them to explain theirs. Listen to what they have to say, and try to acknowledge their point of view, even if you don't agree with it. If you end up arguing, don't be afraid to admit you were wrong and say you're sorry.

Remember, your parents were young once too. Things may have been different in their day, but the chances are they'll understand what you're going through.

Talk to someone else

If you're having problems communicating with your parents, it may help to talk to someone else such as an elder brother or sister, your grandparents, aunt or uncle, or a friend or teacher. They may be able to act as a go between, to help smooth things over with your parents. You could also call a helpline such as ChildLine on 0800 1111, and talk to an adviser in confidence. Mediation can often help resolve family problems

Coping with a stepfamily

The introduction of a stepparent into a family can cause arguments, and can lead to young people running away from home or moving out before they're ready. Learning to live with a new parent, and possibly also new sisters and brothers, can take a lot of adjustment, but if you work at it, it can be very rewarding.

Your new stepparent may have different ideas about how the people in their household should conduct their lives, and they may expect you to keep to their rules. Accepting this can be difficult, especially if you feel that your stepparent has no right to tell you what to do.

If one of your parents has died and a stepparent comes on the scene, it can be especially hard to accept that new person into your family. You might feel resentful if it appears that your stepparent is trying to fill the shoes of your mother or father. Try to remember that your stepparent probably isn't trying to replace your mother or fatherl. They probably want to support you but don't know how. It can't be easy for them either, especially if you are still grieving.

Whatever your situation is, there's no magic solution, but talking things through and agreeing on ground rules together can really help. Negotiate calmly, be prepared to compromise, and don't force your 'real' parent into taking sides with you against your stepparent, as this will only cause more trouble

Coping with the death of a parent

When someone in your close family dies, you can feel isolated and as if no one is listening to you, but rather than getting upset or running away, try telling the people who are still around how you feel. Talk to your mum, dad or stepparent. If you feel you can't do that and there is no-one else to talk to, you can contact Cruse, who will be able to give you help and support or just chat to you about your bereavement.

If your mother or father has died, you might feel that your house isn't your home anymore. If you feel that you are going to be pushed out of your home, remember that you might have some rights to stay in the house. Don't do anything hasty. Speak to an adviser so you understand what your housing options are. 

If someone in your home is being violent or abusive towards you, you must get help immediately. If you are in this situation you can:

  • contact the police,
  • telephone the free 24-hour Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 917 1414,
  • telephone ChildLine on 0800 1111.

Kicked out of home

Once you are 16, if your parents ask you to leave, you will probably have to go. If you're under 16, your parents have a legal responsibility to look after you and make sure you have somewhere safe to stay. However, if you have a serious falling out, they may make you leave anyway. If your parents force you to leave home, try to stay with a friend or family member you trust.  Get help from the Housing Executive or Social Services who will be responsible for finding you somewhere safe to live.  Get in touch with advisers at Housing Rights if you're worried that you could be kicked out of home.