How to Talk to Your Parents

Young women's version of this guide

Although it can be difficult to talk to your parent(s) or guardian(s), they love and care about you and have your best interests in mind. But how exactly do you begin a conversation with them?

Here are 7 tips:

1. Recognize that your parents are there to help.

Although it can be difficult to reason with your parents sometimes, they were teenagers once too, and more than likely they had similar challenges. Discussing important things with your parent/guardian can actually help to strengthen your relationship with them and build mutual trust.

2. Try easing into conversations.

You can start by talking to your parents about little things every day. Chatting with your parents frequently can help keep the lines of communication open, and can make it more comfortable when you need to talk to them about really important stuff.

3. Listen to your parents and ask them to really listen to what you have to say too.

Some parents have strong opinions and/or personal beliefs about certain things. Make sure you start a conversation when there are no (or few) distractions. Most parents want to talk openly with their kids but struggle with what to say and how to say it. They can be just as anxious as you might be.

4. Know how you feel first, and let your parents know too.

Don’t let your emotions get in the way of going to your parents. Instead of not talking about your problem out of embarrassment or fear of judgment, include your initial feelings into the conversation. Let your parents know how you’re feeling when you’re ready to tell them, and they will likely understand and want to listen to what you have to say. For example, you could start by saying, “I feel embarrassed about what I’m going to tell you, but I need your advice.”

5. Be confident, clear, and direct.

If you have a pressing problem that needs immediate attention, it’s best not to wait too long. You don’t want to walk away from the conversation feeling like you missed an important point or concern. Also, when you’re direct and get straight to the point, the person you’re talking to is more likely to listen.

6. Think about talking to another trusted adult.

If you try to talk to your parent(s) and it doesn’t work out, you may find it helpful to talk to another trusted adult or relative such as an aunt, counselor, health care provider or clergy member.

7. Consider talking to a family therapist or counselor.

Meeting with a family therapist or counselor can help improve communication with your parents; this is particularly helpful if you and your parents are struggling.

With time and practice you and your parents can hopefully work together as a team to address all of your problems and help you figure out different ways to deal with tough situations.