Thank you for visiting Adventures In Parenting - where we talk about raising good kids.

Subscribe to RSS feed to get my latest posts, sign up for a newsletter, and join me on Facebook!

Win $50 for children's formal wear! Enter here.

Communicating with a teenager

June 23rd, 2010 / 5 Comments

It’s summer, your teenagers are probably at home more. If you have children in college, they may have moved back for the summer. Are you experiencing tension in your relationships with living in close quarters? Are you having conflicts over everyday stuff like putting their dishes away or waking up at noon? What’s the best way to talk to your teens about your concerns? How can you clear up some of that discord before the relationship explodes?

First, as parents we need to remember, our teens and college kids are no longer children. It would be a mistake to fall into our old habits of  talking and treating them like children, telling them what to do, when to do it and how to do it.  It does take some effort to adjust our parenting methods to fit that of a teenager.

Here are some ways to talk to your teenagers without being a mean mom:

1. Ask questions, not lecture. Your children have a mind of their own now. Telling them what to do will not sit well. Asking questions will be a more diplomatic approach.

Don’t –  “You need to fill up the gas for the car.”

Do –   “When was the last time you got gas for the car, honey? Do you think it’d be fair for you to fill up the tank once a week?”

2. Offer choices, not give commands. No one, not even ourselves, like to be cornered to do something. Giving options is fair and shows respect to your teenage children.

Don’t –  “You should be doing chores around the house.”

Do – “Here is a list of 10 chores. Can you pick 5 that you will be responsible for?”

Don’t –  “I want you to be home more often for dinner.”

Do –  “How about having dinner together as a family 4 times a week?  Which days can you plan to be home for dinner this week?”

3. Give clear expectations, not generalities. Having clear instructions give both you and your teen a sense of security and fairness.

Don’t – “I don’t like your tone of voice. You need to have a better attitude around here.”

Do – “Please use the words “please” and “thank you”  when you speak to us, with a more positive tone. Otherwise, I am not too motivated to answer you.”

4. Use illustrations and word pictures to make your point. Most teens can only see life from their own perspective. That includes taking family for granted. Use stories as a mirror for them to see themselves objectively.

Don’t – “You are being selfish and inconsiderate to your family.”

Do – “You know how the stepsisters treated Cinderella? What similarities do you see between you and them?”

5. Talk to teens when you are calm, not when you are emotionally charged. You don’t want to look like a crazy mom.

Don’t – Applying the above principles when you are mad only makes you sound sarcastic and manipulative.

Do – Take your teenager out to Starbucks and have an adult conversation, using the principles above.

Read the previous post – Reflecting on our changing role as parents as our children grow

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


  1. Very useful Info. Thanks for sharing…. I am going to use it while talking to my son…… 🙂

  2. I just shared this article with a buddy.. Thanks!!

  3. Thanks, hope she finds it helpful.

  4. Very helpful breakdown of ideas. This helps us identify what we do that’s unhelpful as well as how to start changing it. I have to constantly remind myself that my 14 year old is not 4.

    Was writing and thinking about this recently, after 2 1/2 months as a chaplain in a school here in Australia – what seemed to work 100% of the time in building rapport with students was treating them with respect. I tended to get respect back about 80% of the time. Anyone who has or works with teenagers knows that if you’re being treated well by them most of the time, you’re onto something positive. It was actually very simple, as is the way you outline it. Us adults just have to ACT like adults and take control of our communication.

  5. Yes, this is very informative. I tell my mother this all the time. I’m an extremely young college student, so living at home kind of sucks… And i wish my mother knew this. It would help. and I hope other know this to.


Leave A Comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>