Talking to Your Parents

Sure, you talk to your parents, but what if you need to really talk? Maybe you have a problem you can't solve alone. Or it could be that you want to feel closer to your Mom and Dad.

It's easy to say "Hi, Mom" or "Dad, can you pass the potatoes?" It can be harder to start talking about personal topics. Still, it's good to confide in your parents. In fact, it can help a lot.

Be Brave and Start Talking

Let's face it, talking about personal stuff can feel embarrassing. But remember, your parents know you pretty well  and they were your age once, too! So don't let a little embarrassment stop you. It's OK to go ahead and share what's on your mind. 

Some kids might think if they share a problem, they'll make a parent worried or upset. But your mom or dad can handle knowing about your problem, big or small. If they look concerned, it just means they care, and that they feel for you. 

Some kids might not bring up a problem because they just don't want to think about it  and hope it will just go away. But sweeping a problem under the rug hardly ever solves it. And bottling up your feelings can make you feel stressed.

Talking things over with a parent can help you feel less stressed. Together, you can think of ways to cope, solve the problem, and feel better. Just knowing your parent understands and cares about what you're going through can reduce your stress a lot. 

How to Start

Do you need to talk about something important? Try these tips: 

  • Decide who you want to talk to. Do you want to talk to your Mom, your Dad, or both of them? Do you want to talk to a grandparent? An older sibling?

  • Pick a good time and place to talk. Any time you're together can work. For example, when you're walking the dog, helping with the dishes, or driving in the car.
  • Think about what you need. Do you need your parent to just listen and understand what you're going through? Do you need permission for something? Do you want advice? Do you need to talk about trouble you're in?

  • Think of what you'll say. You can get started by saying things like:

    "Mom, I need to tell you about a problem I'm having."

    "Dad, I need to get your permission to go on a class trip next week. Can I tell you about it?"

    "Grandma, I need your advice about something. Can we talk?"

    "Mom, I did something I know was wrong. You might be mad, but I want to fix things, and I need your help. Can I tell you?"

Once you get started, your mom or dad will listen and talk, too. Then you can have more of a back-and-forth discussion.

Communication Tips

Explain your situation. Give details that can help parents understand your situation. Explain what you think, feel, and want.

Be honest. If you're always honest, a parent will be likely to believe what you say. If you sometimes hide the truth or add too much drama, parents will have a harder time believing what you tell them. If you lie, they'll find it hard to trust you.

Try to understand their side. If you have a disagreement, can you see your parents' side? If you can, say so. Telling parents you understand their side helps them be willing to see yours, too.

Try not to argue or whine. Use a tone that's friendly and respectful. That makes it more likely parents will listen and take what you say seriously. It also makes it more likely that they'll talk to you in the same way.

Share the good stuff, too. Make it a habit to talk to your parents about things besides problems. Share what goes well for you, too. Tell them about a good part of your day, a grade you're proud of, or a funny joke a friend told you. Talking helps you be close and enjoy each other more.    

What if It Doesn't Work?

Most of the time, you and your parents can have a good talk and make at least some progress. But for some kids, it might not work out. Some parents have troubles of their own. Others just can't be available in the ways their kids need and deserve. Others have a hard time being flexible.

If you can't talk to your parent, seek out other adults you can trust. Find a relative, a teacher, or a counselor who will listen, understand, encourage, believe in you, and care. Then follow all the tips above to get the most from your conversation with that person.

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