Guide for Teens: #TalkingIsPower 2019
We hear it all the time, adults just don’t get it. Too quick to make assumptions and too slow to listen. But they have a lot of good advice if you can approach the conversation right. To help you brainstorm how to talk to the parent or champion in your life here are a few stories we’ve heard from real teens and our advice:
My boyfriend and I want to tell our parents we're dating. Our families are close friends so we all know each other already- but my dad isn't fond of my bf and my mom asks a lot of questions when it comes to relationships (like if we've had/want to have sex, what the guy hopes to get out of the relationship). How can we convince my dad that he's a good guy and answer all my mom's awkward questions?
It’s definitely hard to talk to your parents if you’re afraid that they might not approve of your relationship! It’ll feel awkward but answering your mom’s questions first might be the way to go in this situation. Let her ask, give her as much information as you feel comfortable sharing, and once she’s on your side let her help you approach your dad. If you think the questions she’s asking are too personal respectfully tell her you’d rather not answer and explain why.
If you are planning to or have had sex, it’s really important that you use protection. Being honest about wanting birth control shows a lot of maturity in a relationship, even if it’s awkward to bring up. If you think your mom will ask about sex, do some research beforehand about different birth control methods and come prepared.
Why is it so hard to tell your parents you had sex already?
Talking to any adult about sex can make young people feel awkward or nervous, and that’s perfectly normal! If both of your parents are active in your life and it’s important to you that they both know that you’re sexually active, you might want to sit down with them separately. Remember that all adults were your age once and have been in your situation before. Even if your decisions worry the adult(s) in your life, it’s important that you understand where they’re coming from, and that you let them know where your head is at. Being open and honest is your best bet in this situation.
If you’re struggling to start the conversation try writing out what you want to say. Practice with a friend or in front of a mirror until you’re comfortable with the words. And if you’re not using birth control yet, do some research about different methods and come prepared. It’ll show how mature and responsible you are.
I don't do anything bad, but my parents still won't let me stay out late or hang out with my friends a lot. What can I do?
The best thing anyone in your situation can do is to have an honest conversation with the adults in your life. Calmly explain that you want a little more freedom and don’t get into an argument if you don’t like the response you get. Try to have a specific situation in mind when you’re asking, whether that’s seeing a movie on a school night, or moving your weekend curfew back an hour. Remember to keep calm, not to raise your voice, and to stick to your script. You want to show that you’re trustworthy and capable of handling more freedom. If you still get a no, ask why. Maybe there’s a concern about you hanging out with a specific person or going places without checking in. If that’s the case, try to compromise!
Why is "You're always on your phone" their excuse to be angry?
Cell phones weren’t a thing when most of the adults in your life were growing up. What seems second nature to you wasn’t a distraction that they had at your age, so they probably don’t understand why you’re spending so much time on your phone. On the other hand, it might just be an easy fight to pick if they’re annoyed about something else. The only way you’ll know which of these is right is by asking and having an honest conversation. Nothing beats face to face communication, so talk to them and get to the bottom of the tension.
How do I approach my mom about wanting to be on birth control?
Your best bet is to be really direct. It might feel weird to bring up, but it shows a lot of maturity that you want to discuss birth control. Do some research about different methods and sit down with the facts in front of you to refer to as you talk. Explain why you want to get birth control and give her the chance to respond. If you don’t feel like you can have this talk alone, schedule a doctor’s visit and invite your mom into the room to have a mediated conversation.
How can I have a better relationship with my parents?
In pretty much any relationship communication can always be better. When you have conflict with anyone (parents, teachers, friends, etc.) try to understand where they’re coming from and how they’re feeling. Journal about your thoughts and feelings, specifically things you might want to discuss with them or wish they understood. Hopefully this will help you to enter conversations with a clear head and avoid heated discussions. Talking about problems without fighting will show your parents (or whoever else you’re in conflict with) that you want to have a productive conversation and resolve your issues.
However, if you’re ever concerned that something about your relationship genuinely isn't healthy, talk to a trusted adult or friend. You should always feel safe around your family, partners, and friends.