The days of playing games with your child and the nights of reading bedtime stories to them are long gone. Now that your children are in their teenage years, the connection you once had may not be that strong anymore. You now have a kid in the pursuit of independence. Maybe you’re wondering how you can reconnect with your child in the state your relationship is in right now. Simple, ask them questions. Remember that in every interaction, questions have always been conversation starters and the ones that keep it going. With that being said, below is a compilation of teen questions parents need to ask. Read and learn!
Operation ‘Ask Your Teenager’
1. Did something unexpected happen today?
The moment we see our kids from school, we just ask them, “How was your day?” With that, the automatic response would be “It was good.” or “Fine.” Then the conversation would be over. Every parent must have been guilty of asking that question every day and got used to the one-worded answers. It’s pretty much like a ritual or something you have done out of habit. If you want your teenage children to open up to you, then ask questions that would make them tell a story. One example is asking them about something surprising or unexpected that happened during the day. This way, there will be more chances for them to narrate an experience that they find interesting.
2. What do you need for school?
During this phase in their life, your child’s focus is directed to his or her studies. And we know that getting through middle school or high school can be challenging. Try to help them succeed by asking what they need for school because sometimes, teenagers tend to keep their struggles to themselves. Moreover, be sure to provide what they ask for as much as possible, as long as you know that it is for their academic success. You should also remember that money to pay for school activities and projects is not always what they need. There are also instances wherein they would need your guidance in studying certain topics or answering assignments.
3. What do you like most about your friends?
One of the things we’ve probably heard most in life goes like this: “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.” Most people believe that they will know your character based on your circle and that you and your friends are similar in most aspects. Although it is not entirely true, it would not hurt to ask your child about their friends. But, you need to start on a positive note. It would be best if you ask them what they like most about their friends. This will give them the opportunity to say good things about them. Through this flow of conversation, you can determine whether their friends are a bad or good influence. Also, it will guarantee you that your child knows how to respond when they face peer pressure
4. How do you see your life after college?
Seeking employment isn’t the only way to go after graduating from college, but it is what the majority are planning to do. Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania’s postgrad statistics showed that 69% of the graduates of class 2020 are planning to get a job; 15% are deciding to pursue higher studies; and the remaining 16% are thinking about traveling or conducting another academic study, while others who are part of this percentage are still trying to decide where to head next.
Although most college graduates prefer to work in a company, it is still best to ask your children during their late teenage years about their plans after completing their academic endeavors. You may think that it is somehow early to ask them about such things. However, it would be better if they have at least a rough draft of their plans while they’re still that young so that they will have a sense of direction. And as they share their plans with you, be supportive and give them advice. Furthermore, you must also make them understand the possible outcomes of their decisions.
5. Are there things you wish I did differently as a parent?
Knowing the answer to this question ignites fear in most parents. Imagine hearing from your child that there are things they wish you would have done but you didn’t—that would be heartbreaking.
Regardless, you also need to acknowledge that, like your child, you also make mistakes. Hear them out so you can change things before it’s too late. In addition, it makes you realize your lapses as a parent, which gives you the chance to make things better, strengthen your relationship, and avoid that troubling parenting regret. Ask your teenager this question so you would not drown yourself with what-ifs and if-onlys in the future.
6. What is your dream family vacation?
The good memories a family vacation brings will last a lifetime in the hearts and minds of your children. This may be the reason why 4 out of 10 or almost 100 million adults in the United States planned to have a vacation with their family last 2019, as per data gathered by AAA Travel. That said, asking your children about their dream family vacation would be a perfect start in re-establishing a strong relationship and bond with them. However, don’t make them expect that you will go on a family vacation anytime soon; just make their answers the basis of your plans.
7. Is there anything you did recently that made you proud of yourself?
When we were still young, we always wanted our parents to be proud of us. Even so, there are instances where we feel like our parents fail to appreciate us despite working so hard to give our best. As mentioned in Psychology Today, this so-called parental pride might make adolescents feel pressured because they are afraid to let their parents down. Now that you are a parent, show support to your child by asking them about the thing they did that made them feel proud about themselves. Having knowledge of the things that gives them fulfillment and satisfaction enables you to acknowledge their efforts, no matter how big or small.
8. Do you think we’re fair to you and your siblings?
As parents, we know for ourselves that we try our best to treat all of our children with fairness. That means the time, discipline, and privileges they experience are equal. However, it is easier said than done. There are times when we fail to notice that we have played favorites because we did not intend to do it in the first place. Nevertheless, you must discuss this issue with your children. Ask them if they feel like they were not treated fairly. Aside from that, make them specify the times when they think you have been unfair. This way, you will be more careful with your actions. It is also crucial to make them understand why you have acted that way, especially when one of their siblings needs extra care because they are still a newborn, sick, or disabled.
9. Are you aware of issues involving illegal drugs and alcohol among your schoolmates?
As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, adolescents use drugs because others are doing it, they want to feel better, and they seek new experiences. This goes to show that when people who take drugs surround a teenager, he or she is prone to do the same. Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding teen substance use revealed that approximately two-thirds of the surveyed students have tried drinking alcohol as they reached 12th-grade, while half of the 9th-grade to 12th-grade students have used marijuana.
That is why parents fear that their children will fall into substance abuse, especially in their teenage years. To prevent that, discuss the use of alcohol and drugs with your teen boys and girls. Doing this allows you to explain to them the negative effect of substance use to make the matter less enticing to them. Apart from that, it is also vital to know if this issue is present in their school and if the school puts an effort in maintaining a positive and clean atmosphere on the campus. Having information about this matter helps you assess if you’ve chosen the right environment for your children.
10. Who do you think you should be?
Lastly, one of the most important questions to ask your children is this: Who are you? Of course, it is not about their names but the entirety of their identity. Note that the answers to these questions may change from time to time as your children’s perspective differs along with the passing of time. So ask them who they are as of the moment and what they want in life. These questions allow you to know your children more. On the other hand, it also helps them discover who they are, what are their principles in life, what makes them happy—basically everything that makes them who they are.
Talking with Your Teenage Child: A Parent’s Guide
As your kids grow older, communicating with them may not be as easy as it was when they were still young. Now that they have slowly detached themselves from you to have a sense of independence, getting them to talk with you may be tricky. You have to approach them the right way. If you’re not careful enough, you may end up pushing them away instead of drawing them near. Need help? Read on.
We want to be heard. However, most teenagers feel like their parents always lecture them without even listening to their side. So how would they even want to open up to you if you won’t give them the opportunity to do so? Thus, the key to successful parent-child communication is listening. Let them talk about everything they wanted to share before you give your insights about it.
Listening and understanding should go hand in hand. As a parent, you have to try your best to understand children even when there are days that you just can’t. Remember that you and your child are walking on different paths in life. What may sound wrong to you may be reasonable to them. So you have to understand the reason behind their actions aside from understanding the thoughts they convey to you. Above all, don’t make them feel that their emotions are invalid.
When your child has nothing left to say, ask them about the things that interest them or the things that you’d like to know. In doing so, make sure that you formulate the questions in a way that would not offend them. For example, don’t ask them “why” can’t they do any better. Instead, ask them “what” can both of you do to improve or solve a problem your child has been facing. It is important to be collaborative when it comes to this, to remind your child that there will always be someone they can lean on.
4. Stay Calm
It’s hard to communicate when the other party or both parties are upset. You might say words you don’t mean. Taking that into consideration, it would be best to say nothing when you’re mad. On the other hand, if it is your child who feels angry, it is okay not to respond yet. Wait for him or her to settle down so you can discuss the problem or issue more effectively.
Suppose you and your child are slowly drifting apart. The direction you want to go is this: You reach out to them, and they respond accordingly. Sounds easy, isn’t it? But the truth is, that is not always the case. Your child may or may not give answers to the questions you have for them. And that’s okay. No matter how long it would take for them to open up to you, don’t give up on reaching out to them. Someday, when the time is right, they will be the ones to run to you.