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how to talk to your teens

Sometimes Teens Just Need Parents Who Will Listen

“Dad, you just don’t get it.”

I can’t even count the number of times my teens have said this to me. I know I’m in good company and as most parents can attest, teens are fond of accusing parents of not understanding what they are going through.

parents who listen

In a way, they’re right.

It’s A Different World Now

Your teen’s experience, as they grow up, is profoundly different from your own because they are living in a different era. You can’t ignore the influence the internet and social media has on their lives. The pressure to not only fit in but also be seen is immense and we have to understand the impact on our teens. Thanks to the rise of technology, we can never presume to truly know what it’s like to be them. The world is just too different.

One thing to remember though is that as much as the world has changed, your teen still has to cope with the same emotional and social issues you did. Your wisdom and knowledge in these areas are invaluable and you are in a position to understand their emotions, if not the situations that brought them about.

how to talk to your teen

Improving Communication With Your Teen

Luckily, teens usually just need someone to vent or talk to. Most times, they don’t need you to charge in and save the day, they just need you to listen and be supportive. Here’s how you can do that:

  • Take an interest in their lives. Getting involved in your teen’s life can have a positive impact on their future. So go ahead and ask them about their day at school, their hobbies or friends and pay full attention when they talk.
  • Show them you are fallible too. A good way of getting through to your teen is letting them know that you also struggled with certain problems while growing up. Tell them how you had a hard time making friends or how you worried about your weight too. They’ll see that you also had stuff to figure out and you turned out alright.
  • Choose the right time to discuss issues. Instead of trying to solve problems when emotions are high, learn to wait for an opportune time when things are calmer. This could be at dinner time or as you both drive home from school. Talking when relaxed allows both of you to be more receptive to what the other person says.
  • Avoid lectures. Giving endless lectures makes you come off as condescending and hostile. Definitely not what you were aiming for with your teen. Instead, keep communication lines open and when they come to you, listen without judgment.
  • Have regular family meetings. It also helps immensely if teens feel their opinions matter. Family meetings are a great way for the whole family to air their views, clarify issues and seek solutions that everyone agrees with.


Getting your teen to trust you enough to open up calls for a lot of patience and compromise. However, this is a small price to pay for a happy teenager and a peaceful home. Wouldn’t you agree?

Tyler Jacobson

Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and writer, with experience as a content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow. Tyler has offered honest advice and humor to struggling parents and teens. Tyler has researched and written on education problems, disorders, the world of social media, addiction, and pressing issues with raising a teen today. Follow Tyler on:
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  • These are all such great ideas with teens. Truthfully I have tried to instill some of these with my daughter even before her teenage years which she is just about to enter. I really try to show her that her dad and mom do not necessarily have everything together and we do struggle as well. I try not to lecture too much as well. The hard thing comes with the family meetings with single parents, which really just becomes one on one time with my daughter.

  • It’s so true…. we spend years begging little ones to take a breather then when they are teens we can’t get them to talk. And it’s hard to talk to our kids without coming across as a lecture. It’s just in us as parents. And I defiantly own up to my past mistakes. They have to see we really have been there.

  • I have found that my teens wanted me to listen and not ‘lecture’. (Those are the moments when I would try to tell them my experiences that they could avoid if they only listened.) I do agree we need to show them we are less than perfect trying to do what’s best for them.

  • I can so remember being a teen and feeling this way. Even now since the gap between me and my parents is 30-40 years, it’s still hard but I’m able to communicate with them. But to me, I see that they grew up in a completely different time, country and environment than I.

  • I’m a stepmum to two teenagers and have taken on more of an auntie role than a parental one because that’s what they need. They know I’m a safe and supportive ear and we have a wonderful relationship. I wish I’d had that growing up.

  • When my kids were teens, I always tried to be conscious of leading by example. Whether we’re aware of it or not, they’re watching and most of what they learn from us is caught and not taught.

  • Some very good tips and pointers! We never had family meetings, we just tended to bring up the situation one-on-one, but I do agree, that lectures are not going to get a parent anywhere, as a matter of fact, it can instantly turn your teen in the opposite direction. Sometimes, teens forget, that we adults have been there, at one time or another and DO understand where they are coming from.

  • I love this post! It’s exactly what I would tell my mom when I was a teen haha. Sometimes, we only just need someone to listen — a solution is welcome but most of the time, listening already works. 🙂 Will definitely share this!

  • I think your tip about avoiding lectures is spot on. Teens want someone who will listen and interact, not just start lecturing. As adults, we tune out the moment someone turns a dialogue into a monologue, so why should we expect them to just sit there and take it? You’re also so right about the world being so different now. I think every generation feels that way, but in the case of us and our teens, they have a completely different world thanks to technology.

  • I am so lucky to have a daughter that is exactly like I was at her age. The good news is that her environment is much better than mine was and she is smarter than I was as well. I had some hard times as a kid so I can understand a lot of what she goes through but I know that everyone is on their own journey so I will keep these tips in mind to make sure we have as smooth of a relationship as possible.

  • What a powerful read! I agree. As parents, we need to adopt a active listening model, rather than talking at our teens. They are more receptive, since they feel like they matter! It helps them realize the importance of inclusion and to make better decisions. This opens up the communication waves as well! Thanks for this article!

  • Avoid lectures. I found myself doing this all the time. The kids are getting bigger and I do need a different approach to talking to them. Thanks for the ideas. Will apply them.

  • Thankfully, I have a great relationship with my teens. My son was posed with an issue this past weekend and I am so happy he made a responsible decision. he wasn’t happy with the outcome, but he didn’t lie to us and he made the right choice.

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