If you have teenagers, it’s likely you’ve struggled to connect with them. It’s hard to know what questions to ask a teenager about life. In fact, sometimes they seem pretty disinterested in sharing any details with you. They don’t want to hear your ideas and they don’t want to (or quite know how to) share their ideas with you.
There are no easy solutions to this. It’s a dance we all have to learn. However, there are some key questions to ask your teenager about life that sound so basic you may be tempted to dismiss them. But if we can commit to engaging our teens with these 3 questions, we might be surprised by the doors that open up to real communication.
1. “How are you feeling?”
Many of us dads are uncomfortable with feelings. We don’t know what to do with our own, and the highs and lows of our teens’ feelings can be overwhelming for us. I get it. I’m pretty bad at all this feeling stuff, too. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s important. Your teen needs to be able to identify and talk about how he or she is feeling. You need to be able to listen in a non-judgmental way without trying to fix your teen or the problem. If this seems like too much, perhaps one of the best things you can do for your teen is to see a therapist yourself and work on that.
2. “Why do you think you did that?”
Of course, your teen may not be able to answer this question, but it’s important to ask nonetheless. When your teens do something that baffles or infuriates you, don’t assume they’re just trying to get under your skin. Ask why she said that thing or why he broke that rule. And do your best to avoid asking in a way that’s accusatory (Parents do that well.). As the prayer of St. Francis so beautifully articulates, “Grant that I may not so much seek to be understood, as to understand.”
3. “What do you think?”Inviting your teens to contribute their thoughts communicates that they and their ideas matter to you.
You may be thinking, “I don’t need to ask what my teen thinks. He (or she) regularly tells me!” But what I mean is much more about inviting your teen into the process of decision making. Obviously, you can’t do this with every decision. But where possible, try to include your teen. It could be for decisions as small as what to eat for dinner. It also could be as significant as a decision you have to make at work. Inviting your teens to contribute their thoughts communicates that they and their ideas matter to you.
There are more questions to ask a teenager about life, but these—the most basic—are a start. And they are helpful for creating a connection between you and communicating that you care.
Sound off: What other questions might you ask your teenager about his or her life?
Huddle up with your teen and ask, “How are you feeling about starting the school year?”