by Brunilda Nazario, MD
If You Really Can’t Talk to Your Parents
You need to talk to your parents about some things, like curfews and rides. But
maybe you don't like to turn to them for personal or social advice. You might
be surprised if you give them a try.
“Nobody is going to care about and love you with the intensity of your parents --
even when you‟re trying to push away from them,” says Kathy McCoy, MD, a former
feature editor of Teen magazine. “As intense and wonderful as friendships can be
-- and some of them are for life, but most of them aren‟t -- you can count on your
parents when your friends might flake on you.”
Talking to your parents doesn't mean you're acting like a kid again. "You can ask
their opinion and you don‟t have to accept everything they say," McCoy says.
Talking Tip 1: Engage in Small Talk
Try to talk to your parents a bit every day about little things -- the dog, your
baseball game, what‟s for dinner. This keeps you connected, so moving on to a big
topic isn‟t so difficult.
Talking Tip 2: Send Out “Trial Balloons”
When you want to talk about a difficult subject, sometimes it‟s easier not to dive
in headfirst, McCoy says. “You might say, 'Most of my friends are having sex,' or
even ask your mother, 'Do you remember what it was like when you were just starting
to change? Did it feel like everyone else was growing up faster?'”
Talking Tip 3: Know What You Want to Accomplish
Do you have some bad news to break to your parents? Do you need their permission
to do something? Or do you just want them to listen to you, without offering any
advice? Try writing down for yourself what you want from the conversation. That
will help you let your parents know what you need.
Talking Tip 4: Consider Talking to One Parent
If it‟s difficult to bring up a touchy topic like sex, discuss it with the parent
you feel most comfortable and open with.
Talking Tip 5: Pick Your Battles
Conversations always go better when they don‟t become fights. “If everything is
a crisis or battle, you and your parents will get „battle fatigue,‟” McCoy says.
“If you go along with their limits most of the time, then ask for an exception --
to stay out later or do something new, for example -- you have a much better chance
of having them say 'yes.'”
Talking Tip 6: Pick the Right Time and Place
It's not a great idea to give your parents bad news when they‟re rushing off to
work. Talking in the car when you're doing errands can be a good time. And if you‟re
angry, wait until you cool off.Go for a run, cry, or hit a punching bag or pillow
Talking Tip 7: Listen When Your Parents Talk
It's tempting to dismiss your parents' opinions. But if you give them time to tell
you what they think, they‟re more likely to listen to you. Try the “five-second
rule”: Everyone agrees to wait five seconds after another person has finished talking
Talking Tip 8: Find Other Adults You Trust
In some cases, it just may not be possible to talk to your parents. Maybe your mom
can‟t be there for you because she has her own troubles. Or your dad is not even
willing to listen. One of your parents may not even be around. In that case, find
another adult you trust – like a favorite aunt, a teacher, or a counselor. The most
important thing is to have a reliable adult that you can turn to when you need to
Holmes, M. Girlology: A Girl’s Guide to Stuff That Matters, Health
Communications, Inc., 2005.
Drill, E. Deal With It: A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a
Gurl, Pocket Books, 1999.
Kathleen McCoy, MD, psychotherapist, coauthor, The Teenage Body Book; Florence,
Ariz. (520) 509-6724.
Kidshealth: “Talking to Your Parents -- or Other Adults.”
Pfeifer, K. American Medical Association Girl’s Guide to Becoming a Teen,
Seventeen: “Talking to Your Parents About Sex”
Emily, Davis, Calif.
by Brunilda Nazario, MD on August
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