As teens, it is 100% normal to want to avoid- if at all possible- talking to your parents! However, it’s important to create and maintain an environment in which you can talk to them. Below are some good tips for practicing conversations with your parents, as well as how to approach hard topics.
Practice makes perfect. If you practice talking everyday, you will build trust and establish a bond that creates an open environment for you to share more serious things. You know that REALLY random fact you learned in science today? Or that dinner you really liked the other night? Talk about it! Parents LOVE that stuff!
Talk about hard things
If you can talk to parents or adults about the everyday things, it will making going to them about difficult things a little bit easier. Got a ticket on the way to school? Failed a class? What about if you’re feeling anxious or depressed? All of these examples are things that we often feel uncomfortable talking about, but a plan can make it a little bit more bearable! Here’s how to prepare:
Know what you want to get out of the conversation
For me, one of the worst parts of preparing to have a touchy conversation with my parents was anticipating all their possible responses. I would often walk into a conversation with all my defenses up- creating my fear! Figure out why you want to talk to your parents. Do you want advice or for them to just listen? Do you want their support? Or do you want them to help you get back on track.
Letting your parents know what you want from the conversation can help you feel less anxious and help them feel a little bit more prepared (i.e. prepared to not react SO emotionally). This takes a lot of maturity and self reflection, ESPECIALLY if you’re dealing with something emotional yourself. Laying out your expectations up front makes for a much easier conversation.
Talk about your feelings
Some topics are going to be awkward to talk about and no amount of prep work is going to diminish that. Being able to recognize and bring light to your feelings about something not only shows emotional intelligence, but it allows your parents to empathize with your emotions. They may not understand the situation, but they can definitely relate to your emotions.
It’s all about timing
Having tough conversations with parents and adults might always feel gross. A great way to reduce that yucky feeling is to find a good time to talk. Approaching your parents when they are busy making dinner will probably leave you feeling frustrated and unheard. Ask your parent, “Can we talk? Is now a good time? When is a good time to talk?” if you’re not sure its a good time.
Remember, its totally normal for you to not want to share everything about your life with your parents. However, knowing that you have adults around that you can trust makes having difficult conversations easier. Think ahead about what your expectations are, put words to your emotions and find a time to talk with parents to help you build trust.