A teenager's story about family conflict
This story is part of a collection of stories from young people on ReachOut.com. You can find the original text here: http://au.reachout.com/my-changing-outlook
My changing outlook
I was brought up in a really strict Catholic family. It was just expected that we would go to church every Sunday and that we would "uphold the Catholic faith" as my parents put it. I never bothered to rebel against religion like many of my friends did. For some reason I couldn't quite subject myself to my parent's disappointment.
Never saw eye to eye
My parents and I never really saw eye to eye about anything. When I was younger it was just the simple stuff - the length of my skirt, how I chose to wear my hair or the movies I wanted to watch. But as I got older I found that there was a lot more that we didn't agree on - my choice of friends, what I wanted to study at uni, political issues or how I chose to spend my weekends.
I left home at 17 to study at a university in another city. Moving away from home has totally broadened my outlook on the world and has changed my opinion on lots of issues. Over the past two years I've met the most amazing people with the most extraordinarily diverse experiences. My circle of friends includes people with different religions, beliefs, values, cultures and different ways of approaching life. But the great thing is we respect each other's opinions. I've learnt to question what I've been taught and not always agree just because that is what "everybody else" thinks.
My mum didn't agree
The first couple of times I went home to visit my parents I found it really hard to cope. I found it hard to deal with not being able to express my opinions as freely as I did when I was away from home. My mum didn't necessarily agree with my upfront attitude to life. While I was always out there trying to get people to take me and my beliefs and opinions seriously, her attitude was "why fight it... why not just go with the flow." It was really frustrating. I used to get really upset that my parents didn't agree with what I was doing.
I kept at it though. I used to ring home and tell mum about a new project or committee I'd become involved with and even though I could just see her cringing on the other end of the phone line, I tried to remember why I was doing what I was doing or why I held the beliefs that I did. I found that I really had to remind myself that it was okay to have the opinions that I did, but also that it was okay for my mum to have her viewpoint too.
The thing I loved about my friends was that we all respected each other's opinions. I had a chat to a friend about it and I eventually realised that if I wanted my parents to respect what I had to say I had to try and respect their viewpoint too. As tough as it was, once I made an effort to respect their values and opinions, getting along with my parents has been a lot easier.