Bugbears: Aaron's advice about family
CBBC’s agony uncle Aaron Balick gives his advice for worries and concerns you might be having about you and your family.
I have a lot of responsibilities at home and that gets in the way of my schoolwork.
Aaron says: You are not alone. There are between 175,000 and 700,000 young carers in the UK (that’s a lot!) and they will all understand how hard it is to have of lots of responsibilities at home, while trying to manage school life too.
It can be really stressful looking after sick parents or minding little brothers and/or sisters AND keeping on top of all your schoolwork. Your school may be able to help you manage this, but they can do that only if you tell them.
Maybe try talking to a teacher about it and your school can help you find the solution that works best for you and your family.
I worry that my Mum and Dad will get divorced because they argue a bit.
Aaron says: It can be upsetting to hear your parents arguing with each other. I know it’s not nice, but it’s actually pretty normal for people in relationships to argue sometimes. That’s just because people are different from each other, and they don’t always agree on things.
If you’re concerned about your parents, just let them know how you feel when they argue. By sitting down and talking about it, you can hear it straight from them instead of worrying about stuff that might not happen, and that should make you feel better.
My Mum and Dad are splitting up and I am upset because they keep arguing around me.
Aaron says: It’s very sad when it happens, but sometimes parents realise they’d be happier if they were apart. This is always about something between them, and is not your fault. Sometimes they get so caught up in their own problems that they don’t realise how hurtful it might be for you to hear them arguing.
Sometimes you have to let them know. So find a time when they are not arguing and tell them how it makes you feel when they do it in front of you. By knowing how it’s affecting you, they should be more thoughtful about how they behave in front of you.
My parents are split up and I want to go to my Dad's more than my Mum's but my Dad works all the time. I'm not sure what to do.
Aaron says: Different families have to make different arrangements when parents split up. This depends on a lot of things that you might not be aware of. It’s really important that you have your say, but it’s also important to realise that things still may go in a way that you’re not 100% happy with.
Your parents won’t know what you want unless you tell them, so it’s good to sit down with them and say how you feel about it all. Hopefully they can make some changes to meet your needs and, if they can’t, then at least you’ll know why. In any case, it’s always good to talk about how you feel about the choices they are making.
My sister NEVER gives me privacy, so I cannot do anything!
Aaron says: Sisters (and brothers) can really be hard to live with! That’s because you live so close with each other that you’re bound to feel like you’re on top of each other all the time.
The best way out is to come up with a “win/win” situation. That means both you AND your sister come out with something good. What might you be able to offer your sister in exchange for a bit of privacy?
Why don’t you talk to her about it, and come up with some creative solutions. Then you’ll BOTH be happier.
Can I do anything about my sister annoying me?
Aaron says: Guess what? Brothers and sisters annoy each other - it’s just a fact of life. Still, there is a lot you can do to make things less annoying between you.
The best trick is to work out how to talk to each other at times when you’re NOT annoyed. Find a quiet moment and sit down with her for a chat. See if you can work out what’s not working between you and how it could be better.
If you have this conversation when you’re NOT annoyed, you might find it works better. Some people find that coming up with a simple word (like “pony”) that you can say when things are getting annoying helps. When one of you says, “pony” the other knows it’s serious, and time to lay off. Seems funny, but it works.
I'm worried about my Grandad. He was in hospital two months ago with a rare foot disease. He shouldn’t be walking on his foot but he is doing so anyway.
Aaron says: It can be tough when a grandparent becomes unwell. It usually makes us worry a great deal, and we want to make sure they are okay. It’s important to know that your grandparents will be looked after very well by their doctors, but that might not stop you from worrying.
If you’re worried about your granddad, why don’t you talk to him and let him know how you feel? It’s important to talk about your worries to either your grandparent or someone else who can help you understand what’s happening. Sharing your concern will make you feel better AND show how much you care. The grown-ups will then take care of anything that needs to happen next with your granddad.
I'm worried that my Mum won't have enough money for presents this Christmas. She's moving house and I don't know if she's not got all of the presents.
Aaron says: I expect you’ve heard a lot about this thing called “the economy” being bad, and how it’s hard for a lot of people who are running short on money. Being short on money can stress people out: parents and their children. This time of year it’s important to remember that parents are working very hard in a tough time.
It sounds like your mum is one of those people but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t thought about Christmas. However many presents there are, remember that Christmas is actually about being with your family and appreciating each other more than it is about what’s under the tree. In the end, you might be surprised what’s under there, but whatever there is or isn’t, use the special day to remember how special your family is to you.
My life is very hard right now. My parents split up, my sister's autistic, my Dad's benefits got cut. Plus, I am getting bullied.
Aaron says: Sometimes we feel like the whole world is really getting on top of us. While we might be able to deal with one or two problems at a time, when they stack up like this it can feel impossible.
When that happens, it’s important to ask for help. Go to someone you trust (parent, aunt or uncle, someone at school) and tell them your worries, and see if you can get them to help you get a handle on some of them. If you can’t find someone straight away, give Childline a ring (0800 1111).
Things that seem impossible in your own head seem much better once you talk about it. Don’t face it alone - get someone to help you through.
Some people have a problem with me because my parents are lesbian. I’m worried the whole school may be talking about me behind my back.
Aaron says: Families come in all different shapes and sizes. Single parents, multiple parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, gay and lesbian parents: these are just a few of a billion ways to bring up children.
What makes a family is love, care and commitment, the rest is just detail! If someone expresses curiosity about your home life, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are talking behind your back or having a problem – they may just be curious.
Talk to your mums about finding the best way to respond. There’s nothing at all wrong with growing up in a family that looks different to most of your friends – your friends will get that when they see the difference is only in the details.