When my kids transitioned into their teen years, it began to feel harder to engage them in conversation. Those days when they couldn’t stop asking questions, telling about their day at school, or sharing the latest and greatest thing felt so far behind. Some days I was met with more eye-rolling and attitude than an actual conversation.
Then it seemed all they wanted to do was spend more time with their friends or be on their own. I began to feel a bit disconnected. When I did get a chance to engage with my teen kids the conversations sometimes felt awkward or difficult to start and lead to old simple questions like “How was your day?” or “What did you do at school today?”. It never felt like a meaningful conversation.
While it felt like my teen kids didn’t want to connect with me, I knew deep down they still wanted that connection. Teenage years can be awkward and rather difficult. We all have been a teen before, moms, and you probably can agree how awkward or difficult sometimes those years were. Thankfully, there are ways we can connect with our teens, we just need to navigate through the murky waters of communicating with them.
It’s All About Timing
When I first started navigating the teenage years as a parent, I learned that I needed to look at the cues. My teen kids weren’t always up for having a conversation. Sometimes they would quickly shut down the conversation by answering my questions with simple answers. But how was I going to get them to start a conversation?
Sometimes I had to wait for them to open the line of communication with me. This happened when my teen kids would talk about something minor going on in their life. I knew this was a great starting point for me to start asking questions.
If you are a parent not yet with teen kids, try to start opening the lines of communication early on. Try to start establishing a culture of mutual respect and keeping the communication line open from an early age can really help you communicate with your kids in their teen years. Include your child in helping make decisions or giving their opinion on different things that involves the whole family.
Leave the Judgement Behind
Our teen kids are looking for a place to not be judged, especially when they open and share details of their life. It can be easy to quickly rush to judgment and turn into freak-out-mode when hearing some surprising details of their life. However, try to consider their current perspective. Ask questions to learn more about what is happening.
Just maybe you might be about to share about yourself and an experience you had before. Remember, we all were a teenager once!
Be An Active Listener
Sometimes we have a lot to say to our kids, especially when the eye-rolling, and attitudes come out. However, sometimes there is a deeper underlying issue our teen kids might be facing. Being an active listener is a great way to help and encourage our teen kids to open and talk more. When we pay attention, show that we are listening, and reflect back on what they are telling us then this opens up the lines of communication even more.
We can start to truly understand what our teens are saying. They might even start to feel more heard and understood as they feel more comfortable to share their personal thoughts and feelings with us.
Questions to Ask Your Teen
So how do you start a conversation with them? If you are wanting to open the lines of communication with your teen kids here are some ideas for questions you can ask your teens.
- How are your friends?
- What are your friends up to these days?
- Do you feel good about your friendship with him or her?
- I’ve noticed you haven’t seen your friend (name) lately. What is going on with them or her?
- What are your thoughts on (a current-even news story)?
- What are you most afraid of?
- How would you describe me as a parent?
- Name something that makes you happy.
- Are there any good new shows I should be checking out?
- Do you ever feel alone?
- What makes you feel better when you’re feeling down?
- How do you handle it when a friend asks you to do something you don’t want to do?
- What’s your favorite class this year?
- What’s your favorite song?
- What is your favorite memory growing up?
- What do you think I like most about you?
- What is the coolest app I don’t have on my phone?
- What is the most embarrassing thing I do?
- What artist are you listening to these days?
- Can you play me one of their best songs?
- Who would you say is your best friend right now?
- Where would be an awesome place to go for a family vacation?
- Did I ever tell you how I met your mother/father?
- Who is your favorite or least favorite teacher this year? Why?
- Is drug or alcohol use a big thing at your school?
- Is there anything you would like to learn how to do?
- Is bullying a problem at your school?
- What is one thing you don’t know about me that you want to know?
- What are some of the first things you remember?
- What would you say are the most important moments of your life so far?
- What would you wish I might do differently as a parent?
- What are your all-time favorite movies so far?
- Is there something you wish you were more motivated to do?
- What are the most memorable family vacations we have taken so far?
- What is the funniest thing that happened today?
- What is the best or worst food at your school’s cafeteria?
- Do you ever feel jealous about the family of any of your friends?
- Do you think we treat you and your siblings fairly?
- What do you like to watch on YouTube?
- Do you think you will get married one day?
- How many kids, if any, do you think you might want someday?
- What kind of parent do you think you will be?
- Are you looking forward to being an adult?
- If you were allowed to get a tattoo, what would you get?
- What is one thing parents don’t get about teens?
- What is your favorite snack food?
- How’s your love life?
- Where’s the first place you would want to go after getting your driver’s license?
- What do you think has been the hardest thing you have ever done?
- Do you wish we has pushed you harder or less hard to keep doing __________?
- What could I do to help you feel more supported?
- What’s a fun thing that we could do together?