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7 Common Complaints Kids Have about Their Parents

7 Common Complaints Kids Have about Their Parents

It’s tough being a kid today, and it’s even tougher being a parent. As misunderstandings arise, finding the balance between how parents were raised and what kids need today can be a real challenge.

The most important thing for parents to remember is that healthy communication is essential for working through common misunderstandings. When parents and children sit down and talk about their conflicts—and try to come up with solutions—many common misunderstandings can be cleared up.

Here are 7 of the most common misunderstandings between parents and children, and a few conversation starters to help work through each one.

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  • Complaint #1: “My parents don’t understand me!”

    Complaint #1: “My parents don’t understand me!”


    Children often forget that their parents were once children, too. And though parents were raised in a different time, under different circumstances, some of the issues are still the same. 

    It’s important to let our kids know that we understand some of what they’re dealing with. And even when we don’t fully understand what they’re going through, we can still assure them that we remember what it was like to be a kid.

    Some phrases to AVOID when trying to convince your children that you understand, are phrases like:

    I know exactly how you feel.
    Don’t worry, you’ll get over it.

    Instead, it’s important to listen first, then offer prayer and support to help your children handle whatever problems they’re facing.

    Here’s a conversation starter to help your children know you understand:

    “I’m really sorry you are going through this. I wish I could say I know exactly how you feel, but I don’t. However, I want you to know I’m here for you. I am on your side. And together, we will work through this.”

    Misunderstanding #2: “My parents are trying to control me!”

    Probably the biggest conflict between parents and kids is the battle for control. While children are convinced their parents are trying to control their every move, many parents are simply trying to manage the family properly.

    Some phrases to AVOID in the battle for control would be:

    You are out of control, so I have no choice but to control you.
    I don’t care what you think. I’m the parent and you’re the child.
    Someday, you’ll be in control of your own life, but for now, I’m in charge.

    Instead of being overly authoritative, parents can firmly, yet lovingly remind their children that their standards are based on God’s standards.

    Here is a conversation starter to help diffuse the control battle:

    “I’m sure it feels like I’m trying to control you, and I’m sorry about that. I just want to keep you safe and raise you to the best of my ability. I’d like for you to give me your input on how we do things in this family. Maybe together, we can come up with some family standards that stay true to God’s Word and make sense to everyone.”

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  • Misunderstanding #3: “My parents have too many expectations.”

    Misunderstanding #3: “My parents have too many expectations.”


    It’s not uncommon for kids to believe that their parents have unrealistic expectations of them. But from the parent’s point of view, they just want their kids to be responsible and do what they’re supposed to do!

    This misunderstanding can cause a lot of pressure and conflict within the family unit. That’s why talking about it can relieve that pressure and solve a lot of misconceptions. 

    When discussing expectations, try to AVOID saying things like,

    You did a good job, but there is always room for improvement.
    I was at the top of my class when I was your age.
    Practice makes perfect!

    Instead, it’s important for parents to define their expectations in ways that are both achievable and motivating for their child.

    Here’s a conversation starter to help clarify your expectations:

    “I know it seems like I want you to be perfect, but that’s not what I want at all. In fact, I am far from perfect! I mess up all the time. But you know what? More than anything, I want you to choose to do what is right. Whether it’s studying for a test, or treating your siblings with kindness, I just want you to follow God and make good decisions. How can I encourage you to make good decisions without feeling like I’m nagging you all the time?”

    Misunderstanding #4: “My parents are pressuring me to perform.”

    While some parents do mistakenly want their children to excel in sports or academics as a way of vicariously living through them, most parents just want to see their kids succeed in their particular strengths.

    It’s important for parents to communicate their standards of performance so the child doesn’t experience undo stress. For starters, parents should AVOID phrases such as,

    I want you to be better at that than I was.
    I never got the chance to play that sport, so you should be grateful.

    Here’s a conversation starter to relieve the child’s pressure to perform.

    “Whether or not you pursue that activity, I am still so proud of you. I see your strengths and your God-given talents, and I want to cheer you on—no matter what! Tell me about the things truly interest you. I would like to know how I can support you in those activities from now on.”

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  • Misunderstanding #5 “My parents are disciplining too much!”

    Misunderstanding #5 “My parents are disciplining too much!”


    It seems to be hardwired in children to push against disciplinary boundaries and fight for independence. On the other hand, parents start to feel like their kids don’t have enough boundaries, so they implement more and more disciplinary measures to rein their kids in.

    While discipline is a Biblical command, it doesn’t have to be a battle. Have open discussions about it and AVOID saying things like,

    You will be quiet and obey.
    This is not up for discussion.

    Instead, paint a clear picture of the benefits of discipline, not only as followers of God, but as healthy individuals.

    Here is a conversation starter to help discuss discipline:

    “Part of my job as a parent is to discipline you. The Bible says that if I love you, I will be careful to discipline you. And I love you very much! Let’s talk about the ways in which discipline is a good thing, and how it can actually teach you valuable lessons in life.”

    Misunderstanding #6 “My parents won’t let me choose my own friends.”

    It’s no secret that parents don’t want other kids being a negative influence on their children. After all, it’s the parent’s job to teach their children the importance of choosing good friends. However, misunderstandings arise when parents don’t communicate their concerns, and instead, ban certain friendships without warning.

    When talking to your children about friends, try to AVOID saying things like,

    You are only allowed to have Christian friends.
    You are a “follower,” therefore, I don’t trust you to pick the right friends.

    Instead, have a heart-to-heart conversation with your child about some of your worries. Then, allow them to openly discuss how they feel about their current friendships.

    Here is a conversation starter about friendship:

    “One way to make good friends is to be a good friend. What kinds of things make a person a good friend? Do you feel like you have friends who are good for you? Tell me about some of your struggles in friendship. Maybe together we can talk through them and come up with some solutions.”

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  • Misunderstanding #7 “My parents are pushing their faith on me.”

    Misunderstanding #7 “My parents are pushing their faith on me.”


    I think it’s safe to say that Christian parents want nothing more than for their children to put their faith in Christ and be saved. And while this desire is a noble one, the way we go about leading our kids to the Lord can feel like “pushing” to them.

    Ongoing conversations about God, and what it means to accept Jesus as Savior, should happen. But there are definite ways to go about it that will hopefully lead our kids to view those conversations as invitations instead of obligations.

    When discussing faith, try to AVOID saying things like,

    You’ve heard the truth, now you need to accept it.
    In this household, you will have faith in God.

    Instead of being too forceful, we need to provide authentic opportunities for our kids to learn more about God and receive Christ as their Savior. Remember, it’s all about the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, not our push for them to believe and receive.

    Here’s a conversation starter about faith:

    “I want to remind you of something very important. Jesus loves you more than I ever could. And He wants to be in a relationship with you. In fact, you can talk to Him any time, just by praying. One of the reasons we read the Bible as a family is to get to know God better. It’s not about following rules, but more about learning who God is and how He has saved us.”

    Ultimately, many common misunderstandings between parents and children can be solved by talking about them openly. When families come together, instead of letting miscommunications drive them apart, they’ll likely navigate the childhood years with fewer challenges and more cooperation.


    Jennifer Waddle considers herself a Kansas girl, married to a Colorado hunk, with a heart to encourage women everywhere. She is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is EncouragementMama.com where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesn’t Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth. 

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