Alright parents – imagine this…
Your teen has been coming home extra giddy the last few days and you are just SO curious as to why she’s acting so different. After dinner, you’re hanging out on the couch with her and you open the conversation with:
Can we take a few minutes to catch up on life? (note that you are starting by asking permission – aka giving your teen a heads up that you would like to have a conversation and not catching them off guard with prying questions right off the bat)
Now it’s time to wait for her response… if she isn’t in the mood to talk, you won’t get anything productive out of the conversation anyways – so be aware of your teen’s ques and needs!
When she gives you permission to ask, begin the conversation with an open-ended starter sentence like:
I’ve noticed how excited you have been the last few days and I love seeing you so happy. I’d also love to hear what’s new in your life if you are open to sharing.
You are making her feel seen and giving her control on how much she wants to share.
I’m so excited because Josh asked me to be his girlfriend and we are official now!
There are probably so many thoughts going through your mind when you hear something like this from your young teen – but now you are prepared because you have these 3 strategies in your toolbelt to talk about relationships and love with your teen!
1: Ask Permission – when diving into conversations around sex or relationships, it’s important to be sure your teen is open to having the conversation (shown in the scenario above)
2. Ask Open-Ended Questions: we can sometimes get ahead of our teen and begin to believe that they are already thinking about having sex or have already taken leaps in their relationships that they haven’t. It’s important to ask questions that give them space to actually tell you what is going on, rather than jumping to conclusions.
And if you feel as though your teen would never open up to you about these topics, I encourage you to explore Teen Speak – many parents have completely transformed their relationship with their teen and opened up communication that they never believed possible using the strategies in the book or self-paced online course!
3. Listen & Respond with Care: it’s important to acknowledge that silence in these scenarios can sometimes be uncomfortable, but don’t rush to fill the silence when you are having a personal conversation with your teen. They sometimes may just need a moment to gather their thoughts and open up more to you. If you rush in to give advice or lecture, you are guaranteed to be confronted with a closed-off and potentially, angry teen.
Responding to your teen about their love life can be intimidating and may also feel like if you don’t say something, they will end up making poor choices – but the truth is, you are there to facilitate a safe space for conversation – not to lead it. If your teen tells you something that makes you feel like you need to give advice or teach (on safe sex for example), start the 3 tools over again by asking for permission. Then give them space to share what they already know about sex and what their personal feelings towards having sex are. We can remind them of their choices to remain abstinent (if that is something they had decided on before) or remind them of safe sex practices, but being someone they can go to with these very personal (and sometimes uncomfortable topics) is the most important foundation you can lay for them.
Studies show that teens who have positive influences in their lives, as well as trustworthy adults they can go to, actually take part in LESS risky behaviors (including sex, drugs and alcohol). Being that safe place is your goal as a teen parent!
For more tips on mastering conversations with your teen, subscribe to our email list today!