talking to teen

Talking to Your Teen About Tough Stuff

Parents of teenagers know that it can be difficult to convince them to open up. We’re sharing some tips to help you talk with your teen.

This awareness campaign is brought to you in partnership with Empower Tusc.

One might argue that a teenager’s least favorite people to talk to are their parents. Moms and dads hope that their sweet kids grow up to be sweet teenagers, but hormones, peer pressure, and big emotions can wreak havoc on their developing brains. So how do you talk to your teen?

5 Tips For Talking With Your Teen

  1. Be available any time and don’t push. First and foremost, don’t push your teen to talk. Instead, make yourself available at times that might feel inconvenient to you- late at night when you’re exhausted, during dinner prep when you’re trying to get food on the table, etc. If you turn your teen down when they’re needing your ear, you may miss your opportunity.
  2. Talk in the car or on a walk. It can feel less intimidating for your teen to talk about difficult things or ask important questions when they’re not talking with you eye to eye.
  3. Refrain from being judgemental. Instead, approach the conversation with a willingness to understand and learn. Being curious instead of critical will give your teen space to open up.
  4. Speaking of space, don’t overrun the conversation. Let your teen pause, explain, and get their thoughts out. When you turn the conversation to you, your teen loses the opportunity to express how they’re really feeling.
  5. Instead of asking “why”, ask your teen “what?”. “What?” allows your teen to explain how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking about certain situations or topics. Asking them “why?” can feel accusatory.

As always, coming from a place of love and willingness to understand is most important. By keeping an open door/open heart policy with your child, you allow them a safe space to share their struggles, questions, and thoughts about substance abuse, peer pressure, and other big topics.

EmpowerTusc provides resources and assistance for families and individuals struggling with addiction. Visit their website at or give them a call at (330) 440-7319. You can also check out their list of local resources for those struggling with addiction, dependency, grief, anxiety/depression, and more.

Audrey Mattevi, Reporting

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