I want you to ask about my day
“Even if the response isn’t robust and enthusiastic, teens still want a parent to be interested in their day,” says Stephanie Hartselle, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown University and a member expert with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). Because parents can have a hard time knowing how to break the ice—especially if teens have rebuffed their attempts before—Dr. Hartselle offers a few conversation starters. “Continue to make asking about his day part of a routine, and have low expectations for the teen’s response,” she says. “In the car on the way home or at dinner just say, ‘What was the best part of your day?’ or ‘What was the worst part of your day?’ Even if they don’t respond, continue to put that out there so teens know you’re here to talk.” Dr. Hartselle adds a tip on handling whatever conversation might follow: “It helps not to take the responses too personally.” Discover more ways to deal with your moody teen.
I want you to ask about my friends
“Teens want their parents to be curious about their friends and who they are,” says Dr. Hartselle. In addition, it’s important for moms and dads to realize that it’s natural for those friendships to take center stage. “It’s useful for parents to think back to how important friendships were when they became teenagers, and how their friend relationships took the spotlight away from many of their family relationships,” says Terrill Dennis Bravender Jr, MD, director of the Adolescent Medicine Division at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “That’s a completely normal shift.” (Helping your teen manage her avalanche of emotions is one way to raise an emotionally intelligent child.)