African-American woman talks with male in kitchen

Better, Not Bitter:
3 Tried-And-True Ways To
Get Your Teen To Talk 


Not too long ago, my son and I had a problem communicating. It seemed every conversation turned into a debate. Or even worse, an argument. It was really frustrating for me and I think it was pretty irritating to him as well.

I have two sons and like many parents, I connect with one more easily than the other. And my mini-me child is college age, so although we still have a mom-son relationship, he is an adult and I treat him as such. My son whose temperament is different from mine is at home with me full time. He is the one I needed to figure out how to better connect with.

Related: Better, Not Bitter: My Dreams vs. My Kids’ Dreams

We only have a few years left together before he heads off to college and I don’t want him hating life here with mom in his last years of high school. I know things won’t be smooth sailing all the time, but it would be nice to be able to talk and share information about our day since we share these four walls known as our home.

I did some reading and research about the issue to see what I was doing wrong and how I could try to make things better. I knew all the problems weren’t on my side, but I knew the only problems I could fix about the issue were mine, so I started there.

I started by Googling, “talk to your teenager” and I found some pretty good suggestions. Like this website that points out the importance of just talking with your teen instead of always trying to get a point across. Or this one that advised to make sure your teens understand their opinions are valued. And one suggestion that made a lot of sense was just the advice to talk about whatever my teen wants to talk about. Now that we are well into the school year I’ve found it interesting to try one of these three prompts to start a reasonable conversation in the evening after school and work.


1. First-Hand Knowledge Of School Assignments

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Most high schools give you the opportunity to check grade books online through a web portal. This tool allows parents to stay in touch with what is going on the classroom. Some school systems use Blackboard, some use homegrown systems, but most allow you some way to see your child's performance on a daily or weekly basis.

I use this information to ask direct questions about assignments and what is going on in class to engage my teen. I let him know I am keeping up with what he is studying in school. Instead of just asking about upcoming quizzes, tests or projects, I am asking what he thinks about what he's studying. This tactic doesn't always work, but when it does, it's beautiful. He is studying sociology this year and I have learned so much about how he thinks about things that are happening in the world.