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Opening Dialogue With Your Teen

Design

As a “cheat sheet” for a parent trying to start a meaningful communication with his or her teen  

Foundation

Helps parents push past the sometimes awkward process of talking to a teenager by sincerely listening to what matters to him or her

Tools

Schedule a short road trip for you and your teen with a fun destination and activity, such as hunting, camping, shopping, hiking or whatever he or she would enjoy. Bring the list of 20 questions on the next page. Use or edit the list of questions to fit your situation.    

Drive-Time Communication

While driving to your destination, ask several of the following questions. It is sometimes easier for a teen to open up while you both watch the road than it is face-to-face.     

  1. What is something you want me to know about you?
  2. In what ways do you feel that I do not understand you?
  3. How do you hope that our relationship can improve over this next year?
  4. How can I do a better job of listening to you?
  5. What are several ways I can be a better parent to you?
  6. What are some new things that our family can do together for fun?
  7. In what way would you like for me to consider giving you more responsibility and freedom?
  8. Who are your most important friends right now and why?
  9. Who do you look up to right now?
  10. What is your biggest worry?
  11. What do you think that I think about you?
  12. What one word best describes you?
  13. If you could change something about your school, what would you change?
  14. When do you feel most alive?
  15. What would be the best day of your life? The worst day?
  16. If you could have one super power, which super power would you have and why?
  17. What is your strongest emotion?
  18. What do you want to be remembered for?
  19. What is your best childhood memory?
  20. How can I do a better job serving you?

Keep in mind, the goal is to listen and learn—not to correct their impressions or “fix” anything too quickly. Also, remember that your teen may feel awkward talking to you about some of these concerns if you have not had similar chats before. Be patient, and don’t worry if they struggle opening up, simply move on to whatever fun experiences you’ve planned and try again later. 

© 2008 Inkling Innovations & Mason Randall