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Getting Teens to Talk

Do you have teenagers? Maybe this sounds familiar:
Interested Parent: “How was school today sweetheart?”
Moping teenager, “Fine.”
“Is everything OK?”
“Anything you want to talk about?”
Good talk.
As a loving parent, we want to have meaningful conversation with our teenagers, but how? We’ve struggled with this ourselves. We’ve realized we need to create “opportunities” for our kids to talk to us…when they are ready. If we poke and prod, chances are they will resist. And when they DO open up, we need to stop what we are doing and just listen. We must resist asking still more questions or risk the losing the moment.

Paul: Over the years, I stumbled on a few conversation opportunities that seemed to work for us. When our son turned 16, I began taking him with me on ride-alongs in my patrol car when I worked as a police officer. It was a golden opportunity for him to see his pop in a new light and gave us plenty to talk about. When he took up an interest in roller hockey, so did I. At nearly 40, I learned how to skate on roller blades and played hockey with him daily. Man, did that create great unplanned opportunities to talk about life – and have some fun at the same time. When our daughter was struggling with high school English, we read classic books together – lots of opportunities to springboard from fiction into every day real life happenings.

Steph: Creating opportunities with our daughter when she was a teen meant allowing silence to linger until she wanted to talk. I knew it was important to let her drive the conversation. Going shopping was one good way for us to have time alone together. Now that she is an adult, I still invite her to go shopping and maybe even suggest we grab coffee or lunch. Another great way to spend time is to suggest we get a pedicure. Talk about fun ‘girl’ time! When our son played high school football, I made the effort to attend games whether at home or away. Most of the time he chose to drive home with me instead of riding back on the bus so that gave us plenty of time to chat. He also loves to cook, so I like to be his sous chef! Cooking is something we have in common and it creates opportunities for him to share with me new recipes or cooking methods.

Creating opportunities for meaningful conversation is still important with adult children: family dinners, short weekend getaways, going wine tasting, and playing board games together afford us chances to talk about things that matter. Do you have any tips that have worked for you? Please leave us a comment below.


  1. When I was pregnant with my first child, my mom took me to ceramics classes with her and I made a tea set. Was a special time, and is still a very special memory. In recent years, we shared a winery membership and shared many trips to and from the Winery for tastings and special events. It was a 2 hour drive each way. So your advice is right on.


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