Ever wonder where you lost the ability to hold a conversation with your kid?
I am passing along what I have learned from having a 17 and 12 y/o so far with regards to conversing with a teenager. Seriously there was a point where #1 Traveling Companion and I thought “How to Keep The Conversation Going?” What about how the hell do we get more than a grunt out of them, or holy crap a “Yeah or No.” We went from knowing EVERY SINGLE detail of their day, to wondering if they only opened their mouth to shovel food in.
Hear me loud when I say that I do not dish advise regularly, and this is a rarity. I say parent, and let parent… So read on and know this is our experience 🙂
When F was born we would look at her and wonder what she was thinking, we couldn’t wait until she started to talk. We were NEW PARENTS, as I know you parents with 2, 3, 4 or more kids are like “JUST ENJOY” the fact that they can’t talk back yet, enjoy the PEACE!!!
As a toddler she would chit chat to herself, in actual fact when she wanted something and thought the answer might be “No” you could hear her coming down the stairs talking the whole process out as to how she was going to win the day! Gave us a great advantage with the conversation, for sure.
This banter, talk, conversation went on up through the age of 12 or 13, then as if someone had turned a switch off the conversation stopped. When she came home from school I would ask the usual “How was your day at school?, or did you have a good day today?”. These were usually met by “Good, fine, alright, and my personal FAVORITE sure!!!”. The last one, “Sure” is teen speak for: Yes, OK, no, not yet, in a minute, it can wait, not now, and don’t speak to me!!!
Where had our Chatty Kathy gone, and how the hell can I figure out what she had done for the last 7 to 8 hours of her day?
Easy, we had to stop asking one word answer questions…. So began the nightly ritual at the dinner table of ……..
One bad thing, one good thing!
Rules: Everyone has to answer, it has to be a sentence or more, and if someone has a question that too has to be answered.
It usually starts with me asking F first “What one bad thing happened today?” followed by her answer, followed by question and debate, then followed by “What one good thing happened today?” again followed by her answer, followed by questions and debate.
These two questions are then asked of each person sitting at the dinner table, and yes if a guest is over they too must play along. This usually fills up the whole dinner time and can sometimes spill over into clean up time too.
Now everyone has heard about each others day, everyone knows if there is something going on in that persons life outside of the home, and everyone can be supportive or understanding. Well ok we aren’t the Cleaver’s here, but we try….
Trust me there are times when asking these questions get answers like…. I had a horrid bowl movement, or Lucy loves Luke and now everyone is mad…. (not real names) and the bowl movement is a WHOLE lot more descriptive than that. Ugh!
Conversing with a Teenager
Each of us as we have grown in this family has a life with the family and one that exists outside of the walls of this home. When we start these conversations each night we bring that life outside of this home in, so that we can all understand where the other person is coming from with their feelings and emotions for that day. It works for our family, maybe it could work for yours 🙂
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Another conversation starter that I do that is not really appropriate for younger kids, remember I have a 12 and 17 year old is this:
- Which teacher was nice today and why?
- Which teacher ran naked down the hallways today, and was it your fault they did this?
- Which teacher sucked today, and why?
- Which teacher rock your day, and why?
Instead of saying which teacher I usually put the name of a teacher in there and ask the question. For the sucky teacher I always ask that question of a good teacher and know that I am going to get a good, positive response back. All of F’s English teachers ROCK in her world, so it is usually one of those that I ask that about.
Bebe is asked all of this too, so that when she turns next year into a TEENAGER we have a head start on her, although that child has verbal diarrhea of the mouth so I am very curious to see if she ever shuts up!!!!!!!! No one is safe around that child, and we ALWAYS know what is going on in her head, much to her sisters dismay…
Converse with a Teenager in the Car!
One other way to converse with a teen that has worked for us and many of my girlfriends is……… In the car. #1 Traveling Companion has this down with F, when she is having a bad day he invites her to the car for a trip to the local coffee house and it WORKS. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME!!! She has even asked him to take her for coffee!!! HOLY COW!!!!
Why you ask, well the simple truth is that teens for whatever reason do not at this age like to make eye contact and you really can’t do that in the car. Also if you have a conversation that NEEDS a captive audience well HELLO the car is the place to do it. The other night I was out with several girlfriends and one said that she was picking up her kid from college for Thanksgiving break and realized that she had not had the SEX talk with him!!!!! Lord help her she did it right there and then and then said to him, “Sorry that I just shoved that in your face and you had no where else to go, but hey it needed to be said…”
I did ask F last night what she thought of the post and her response was that I should tell parents to listen. When a teen is telling a story just listen, they are not asking you to fix the problem, discuss the problem, give them a life lesson on the problem. They just want to be heard and their feelings validated. If they ask you for your opinion then give it, otherwise keep quiet.
Funny thing is we do do that now, and I seem to get so much more out of her this way. Go figure!!!!
Where do you have the best conversations with your teenager? How do you start those conversations? How do you keep those conversations going past the first and only word?
Thanks for popping by……. 🙂 Have a great week!!!!