I'm in my early twenties. Whenever I come home during breaks in school, I find the atmosphere at home unbearably stressful. It's so bad that my sister (who is in college and also comes home for breaks) and I prefer to stay literally paralyzed with anxiety in bed all day or either leave the house for most of the day. It mostly boils down to the fact that we can get yelled at for almost anything we do. There is no way to win-- I will get yelled at or criticized or caught in some argument over the most ridiculous thing no matter what I do. Alternatively, I will have to watch my siblings get yelled at for something equally innocuous. My siblings and I walk on eggshells all day. It's exhausting. But I love my parents. I already don't see them very much and I just want to enjoy the time I have with them. How can I better do this? Any tips or strategies to reduce the stress?
I can get yelled at for sleeping too much, for saying the wrong thing, for eating the wrong way, or for staying out of the house too much (or not going out enough). I can get yelled at for making statements like, "I feel stressed...". It gets better when only one parent is around, but usually during holiday breaks, both parents are home. It was like this when I was in grade school too, but I dealt with it because it was the only home environment I knew growing up. My parents actually do like each other and care about each other, so it's not as if they're in the middle of a divorce or anything. My siblings and I are all really good kids-- we do well in school, help out around the house when we can, don't spend our parents' money, call our parents regularly-- so that's not an issue either.
I don't think I can change my parents at this point. They recognize that the way they act is problematic, but that's about as far as it has gotten (and this was after I explained it to them, which really wasn't easy in itself). I sometimes fend them off by saying that I have to be out of the house to get schoolwork done, or by trying to clean the house as much as possible to give my parents one less thing to yell at me for, but there has to be a better way, right?
I know a simple solution could be just to not come home during breaks, but at the same time, I love being home. I love my parents very much, and I get to see my siblings, relatives, my hometown friends, and it's a good time to reflect with my family. I miss my mom's cooking, and my house is still my home. Staying with other friends in my hometown over break isn't an option.
To make it very clear, my parents are not
narcissistic/abusive parents -- they care very deeply about me and my siblings and would do absolutely anything to support us. My parents went through a lot in their childhoods and as immigrants, so I understand that is partly where they are coming from. I'm in therapy for other issues right now, so I could eventually get myself therapy for this, but I'm not ready to talk about my parents at length because I feel like it's rife for cultural misunderstandings-- I feel like anything I say could be stereotyped as a case of bad "tiger parenting" (which, it truly, truly isn't). (Here is an article
that sort of describes how I feel about that issue -- ctrl+f "Western psychotherapist" to reach the relevant section).
Many thanks for your suggestions.