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To Sam


hi there. im a 17 year old female who currently attends college. i was wondering if it is possible to ground a 17 year old? i stay with my aunt and she raided my entire bag and found a couple things. she said she is grounding me for a while when i am just recently ungrounded for drinking one can of cider. i feel totally isolated and when i am grounded i get the silent treatment off everyone. the only time they will talk to me is at dinner to shout at me for what i had done. i am looking at some advice and what i should do?

thank you

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your letter.

It’s common for parents to punish their child when they've broken a rule or misbehaved. Punishments shouldn’t be violent or aggressive and they shouldn’t ever physically hurt you. Grounding is one way parents or carers might punish you in a non-violent way. The older you get the more unreasonable these punishments might feel to you. It can be helpful to talk to your parents about how you feel. If you don't feel comfortable having a conversation, you can say how you feel in a letter.

At 17 you're almost an adult, so often there can be negotiation about the home rules. Changes to rules depends on trust and discussions around what is and isn’t acceptable. Building trust can take time and is often about sticking to agreements you’ve made. It’s important that you're able to explain how you feel if you disagree with something and to try and negotiate on any rules you think are not fair.

It’s good to be prepared when you talk to your family. Try to approach them calmly and not get angry if things are not going your way. Being assertive can help and if you practise what you want to say first, you're more likely to be able to say everything you want. Act calm and confident by standing straight and don’t get distracted by your phone or other things going on. Make eye contact with the person you are talking to, then say what you want politely and clearly. You don’t have to apologise if you're asking for something reasonable or something you need.

While there isn’t much stopping you from ignoring the punishment, it could lead to more arguments and a breakdown in the relationship with your aunt. It’s usually better to talk things through. It’s not okay for family to isolate you or treat you badly. If someone is put down a lot or punished often, this can be emotional abuse.

If you ever need to talk about how things are at home, Childline is here for you and you can get support at any time.

Thanks for your letter.

Take care for now,


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