I remember the conversations that I had with my teen daughter. Some of them were so easy and fun and others were much more difficult.
Some of our best conversations seemed to happen when we shared photos of ourselves at similar ages. "Look Amanda--I would say--here I am at the beach at age 15," and we both laughed.
I think that we both couldn't believe that I was ever fifteen. Then, we would start comparing how different fashion was then compared to the contemporary fashion of my daughter and her peers.
To follow up, I might show a photo of a teen boy that I had a crush on and we'd laugh some more. I guess the idea of her mom being a teenager and having a crush on a boy was such an incongruous concept. We still love comparing photos.
Almost every day I hear one or more parents tell me that they are having difficulty getting conversations started with their teens. A "How was your day?" starter ismet with silence.
"Tell me about your classes" is met with a blank stare. Parents all over are trying so hard to get conversations going, but without success. I've been mulling this difficulty over and, with the help of the parents and teens that I talk to, I have some good topics of conversation.
Of course, there are some pre-requisites. First, you have to:
see if your teen is in the mood to talk
if your teen is busy with something else
and whether or not you are available both physically and mentally
For a good conversation to take place both parent and teen need to be present and mindful.
So here are some favorite conversation topics that are not likely to lead to arguments:
1. Show interest in your teen's photo collection. Teens are always taking photos.
2. Ask about the music that they like and even ask to listen to it.
3. Teens sometimes like the question, "Tell me about the drama at school" especially if it doesn't involve them.
4. Ask to see the fruits of their hobbies and clubs.
If they are into pottery or any other hobby look at what they've made recently. If they are part of a club ask about how things are going .
5. Ask about their volunteer work or after school jobs.
6. You can try my trick and show them your own teen photos. I guarantee that they will be fascinated. Be prepared to laugh a lot.
I guess the bottom line is that you want to show interest in activities other than school. I can assure you that your teens think that all you really want to hear about are their grades and that is not true, right?
How do you get your tweens and teens to open up?
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Barbara Greenberg and Jennifer Powell-Lunder are authors of the hit book, "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual." They've set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at www.talkingteenage.com.