'I'm in my early 20s and extremely misunderstood by my family'

"I find it difficult being more present at home, a complaint my parents and siblings often have," says a misunderstood Gen Z

By  Haya Malik   |  
June 05, 2024

Dear Haya,

I’m the youngest in my family and often misunderstood by my parents and siblings. I acknowledge my constant mood swings but I also expect that my family understand my position as someone in her early 20s.


My siblings are understanding to an extent, but they also sometimes aren’t able to relate to the mental stress I’m enduring due to the pressure of studies and work.

I am a student and also work remotely, which is why I find it difficult to manage being more present at home, a complaint that my parents and siblings often make. I understand their displeasure but I’m also in a fix.

Can you please help me work around this situation?

— A misunderstood Gen Z

Dearmisunderstood Gen Z,

It sounds like you’re managing a lot of responsibilities and experiencing significant stress. It's understandable that balancing your studies, work, and family expectations can be challenging.

Let’s take a closer look at your situation.

First of all, I would encourage you to acknowledge your emotions and start becoming more aware of your triggers. Your stress and mood swings are real and deserve attention. It is okay to feel how you’re feeling. Try reflecting on what specifically triggers your mood swings and stress. Identifying these can help you manage them more effectively.

I hear you expressing that you expect your family to understand your position and while your siblings are understanding they aren’t able to relate to your mental stress.

The thing with expectations is, they need to be communicated and managed.

Expectations without the above are just thoughts. This would require you to have a candid conversation with your family members on what’s going on for you and how you’re feeling.

Explain the pressures you’re facing in a calm and clear manner. Use "I" statements to express your feelings without sounding accusatory, such as "I feel overwhelmed when I’m not understood".

In addition, let your family know about your daily schedule and commitments. Communicate to them what is important to you (work, studies and family) and how you’ve been feeling and what you need from then (their support and understanding) This transparency can help them understand why you might not always be available and be able to support you in a way that you need.

Now coming to your siblings, the truth is: no one will be able to relate to your experience 100%, because no one has been in your shoes besides you, and no one knows what it’s like. Having said that, you can let them know what it’s like for YOU, which may enable them to offer you empathy and give them perspective on what’s making you behave the way you have been.

Working from home comes with its own set of challenges, often blurring the boundaries between work and personal life. It’s crucial to manage your time well between work, study, and personal family time. Ensure that the time you allocate for family is dedicated to them without distractions. This focused attention can help mitigate their concerns about your presence at home.

Its important to know that even when you’ve done everything within your control — communicated clearly, expressed your feelings on what’s going on for you and what you need they may still not understand in the way as you would like. That’s ok. This is where setting boundaries becomes essential while continuing to prioritise what’s important to you.

Additionally, manage your stress in ways that suit you best. Consider mindfulness, meditation, exercise, therapy, journaling, meeting friends, or engaging in activities that bring you joy. These practices can help you maintain your well-being amidst the demands of your responsibilities.

Navigating family dynamics, especially when balancing significant personal responsibilities, requires clear communication, effective boundary-setting, and personal stress management. By addressing these areas, you can foster a more understanding and supportive environment while taking care of your own mental health.

Hope this helps!

Best of luck,


Haya Malik is a psychotherapist, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner, corporate well-being strategist and trainer with expertise in creating organisational cultures focused on well-being and raising awareness around mental health.

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Note: The advice and opinions above are those of the author and specific to the query. We strongly recommend our readers consult relevant experts or professionals for personalised advice and solutions. The author and do not assume any responsibility for the consequences of actions taken based on the information provided herein. All published pieces are subject to editing to enhance grammar and clarity.