Living with family
What do I need to know?
Living with family members can sometimes raise lots of different housing issues and questions.
As you grow up, you won’t always see eye to eye with your parents, carers, or guardians. This is normal.
There are things you can do to improve your relationship with your family and stop problems getting out of hand.
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As you grow up, it’s important that you and your family members begin to set ground rules together, and to make joint decisions about issues such as privacy and personal space, when and how often you go out and how much you help around the house.
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.
If you want to be treated like an adult, it’s important to act like one. Here are some tips for gaining 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 family to stay out of your bedroom, keep it tidy. Don’t give them an excuse to go poking around
- don’t exclude your family from your life – try spending some quality 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 out (and chances are you will) it’ll only make things worse and destroy your family’s trust in you
- don’t argue over every little thing you disagree with.
If you have a problem with the way your family members are treating you, talk to them about it. They may not even realise they’re upsetting you.
If you are angry, wait until you’ve calmed down, then discuss things rationally later on. Pick a good moment, when they 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.
If you’re having problems communicating with certain members of your family, for example your parents or guardians, it may help to talk to someone else such as an older 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.
Use our Support Near You tool to find services that can help and someone you can talk to.
If you feel you need some ‘hands on’ help sorting things out with your family, you could contact a mediator. A mediator is a sort of neutral referee who can help you and your parents sort out your problems. They don’t take sides, they don’t decide ‘who is right’ and they don’t tell you what to do. Instead, they help you work things out for yourselves.
The introduction of a step-parent into the family can be the cause of arguments – learning to live with a new parent, and possibly also new sisters and brothers, can take a lot of adjustment.
Your new step-parent may have rules. Accepting this can be difficult, especially if you feel that your step-parent has no right to tell you what to do.
If one of your parents has died and a step-parent comes on the scene, it can be especially hard to accept that new person into your family.
Try to remember that your step-parent probably isn’t trying to replace your mum or dad.
Whatever your situation is, there’s no magic solution, but talking things through and agreeing on ground rules together can really help. Don’t force other family members into taking sides with you against your step-parent, as this will only cause more trouble.
When someone in your close family dies, it can create lots of complicated feelings. You might feel isolated and as if no one is listening to you. Try telling the people who are still around how you feel. Talk to other family members, friends, or a teacher. 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. Cruse have a helpline (0808 808 1677) and a website aimed at young people aged 12-18.
You can also read more about grief, the mixed up feelings it can create, and coping with your loss here
If your mum or dad 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 make any hasty decisions, and get advice if you are not sure what to do.
Read our advice page to find out what your rights to stay in you home are after someone dies.
If someone in your home is being violent or abusive towards you, you must get help immediately. If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police.
You can also call:
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 bad falling out, they may make you leave anyway.
If you find yourself in this situation, you should talk to an adviser immediately.
Read our I’ve been kicked out page or call Shelter Cymru’s expert housing advice helpline on 08000 495 495 for advice on where to stay.
You might decide that you want to get your own place. There are lots of things to think about, including who to rent from, and how to pay the rent. You can read our first home page to get some useful tips.
If you are renting a home from a ‘close relative’ of you or your partner and they live in the same house, you won’t be able to get housing benefit. For example, if you are living with your parents and paying them some money towards household costs you will not be able to claim housing benefit.
If you live in a property owned by a ‘close relative’ and pay them rent, but they live in a separate home, you may be entitled to housing benefit.
You can find out who is classed as a close relative and about claiming benefits when renting from a close relative here.