When was the last time you had an in-depth conversation with your teen? When I say conversation, I don’t mean one that includes a lecture, such as why they’ve broken their curfew, fell behind at school or even anything that includes having to be responsible for something.
I’m hoping your answer will be “recent,” but not to worry if it isn’t. Honest conversation with teenagers may be rare, because they’re often elusive or withdrawn, but regardless of what they (or you) might think, it’s critical for a healthy relationship.
How NOT to Get into the Negative Talks with Your Teen
I also understand as well as you do that honest, stimulating conversations with your teen isn’t easy. I frequently hear parents lamenting, “but they just don’t TALK to me!”
Remember that the best way to start a conversation is usually to get the other person to think and become a little more involved. So ask questions that you feel they might be interested in. You may or may not know your teen as much as you’d like, but perhaps any of the following conversation starters could help.
Get The Conversation Going With These Great Starters
- What is the best meal you’ve ever had?
- If you could go anywhere on vacation – where would you go?
- What do you like about where we live? What do you dislike?
- Where do you think you’d like to live when you grow up?
- Which sport is the hardest to play?
- What are the biggest factors in someone succeeding in school?
- If you could drop one class/subject at school what would it be?
- What kind of class do you wish your school offered?
- Do you ever see cheating happening at school? What do you think about it?
- What do you like about your favorite teacher?
- What do you dislike about your least favorite teacher?
- What do you picture school being like for us (your parents)?
- What do you think school will be like for your kids?
- What do you think about home-school?
- What do you want to do after high school?
- What do you think about tattoos and piercings? Would you ever get any?
- When is a good age for kids to try alcohol?
- What should be done to prevent drunk driving?
- Have you ever seen someone act differently when they’ve had drugs or alcohol? (Talking to your teens about drugs & alcohol is HUGE.)
- How do you think you’ll be as a parent?
- Are there any rules at home or school that you disagree with? Agree with?
- How does our family compare to other families you know?
- Do you consider our family close? Why or why not?
- If there was one thing I could do to be a better parent, what would it be?
- Do you think you’ll be close with your siblings when you’re adults?
- Do you think it’s harder to be a boy or a girl? Why?
- Can teenagers really be “in love?” Why or why not? (Try not to cringe!)
- What do you think marriage will be like for you?
- Do you think video games can take people more violent?
- Have you ever felt depressed? Why? (Yes it can happen to your kid!)
- When is the happiest you’ve ever felt?
- What should someone do when they feel sad or anxious?
- What do you like about your best friend?
Asking any of these questions is the first step towards a wonderful, deep, possibly bonding conversation with your teen, but the most important step is the next one – LISTEN. It’s critical that once they start talking you actually stop to listen and understand, even if it’s frustrating or doesn’t make sense. If you’re completely bored, don’t be afraid to change the subject towards something you that could steer YOUR interest.