How can I get my teen to open up and talk with me?

A Father / Daughter Post

From Charis

I did a lot of foolish things growing up. But my parents knew about nearly every one of them. Usually because I told them.

I know that’s not the norm – most kids withdraw during teen years.
wanted to have an open relationship with my parents. But so did my friends.

I remember conversations with teenage friends who expressed a desire to share their questions, doubts and dumb mistakes with their parents. So why did I feel free to do so when many of my friends were afraid to?

I think it’s because when I opened up to them they didn’t “freak out”.

When I came confessing some dumb or dangerous thing they may have completely freaked out on the inside but they never showed it on the outside.

They would stay calm, discuss the situation, how I could avoid it next time, pray with me if necessary and it was done.

The fact that they didn’t freak out made me willing to talk with them. It made them approachable.

From Rick:

Surprisingly most teens want to confide in their parents. They sure don’t act like it, do they? And we let that outer façade fool us.

Because of our own insecurities if they didn’t immediately open up it’s easy to conclude, “They don’t want to talk.”

Sometimes I need to be reminded that I have to be the adult. I have to begin the conversation. I have to push through the wall and reach into their world. It isn’t their responsibility. It’s mine.

If you want to keep the door of communication open (or open it) your teen needs to know you won’t “freak out”.

Remaining calm doesn’t mean you endorse the behavior or aren’t shocked by the question. It simply means you are imitating our heavenly Father who invites us to approach Him with all our cares (1 Peter 5:7) and is never shocked by even our most outrageous actions (Psalm 86:5).

If we’ve “freaked out” in the past why would they approach us? They don’t want to hear another sermon about what a total mess-up they are. They already feel like a failure. No wonder they withdraw.

What can we do if we have a “freak out” reputation?

I have personally experienced the astounding power in apologies and humility, even when our kids are in their teen or young adult years.

We’ve all blown it at times. Admit it – to your teen. If you want them to open up this is a great way to demonstrate openness.

And maybe some of these suggestions will help further open the lines of communication.

  • Invite them to read this post and talk with you about it.
  • Ask if they feel they can talk with you about problems they are facing. Do they feel they can ask you any question about anything?
  • If not, ask what you can do to help become a “safe” parent, one they can approach with any problem or question.

Don’t “freak out” no matter what they say. They will unconsciously be “testing” to see if it’s safe to open up. If we launch into a rebuke or sermonette they’ll snap shut. Just listen.

If our kids don’t feel safe to approach us they’ll find answers elsewhere – usually from friends who are as clueless as they are. But these friends won’t say, “I don’t know, talk to your parents”. They’ll give them authoritative answers.

We want our kids to come to us. No one in the world knows them better or cares more about them. But for our kids to openly share their deepest concerns and struggles they have to feel “safe” talking to us. Just like we can feel safe – no rejection or lecture – bringing our cares, questions and confessions to our heavenly Father.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
– Psalm 103:13

 O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.
– Psalm 62:8

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply