Do you remember a time when your child would talk to you non-stop for what felt like hours? If you have a teenager, you’re probably aching for those years back. Once they enter adolescence, getting your kids to talk to you in more than snorts and groans can be challenging. However, openly talking to your teenage child about some essential topics is one of the most important things you can do as a parent.
Whether you’re covering ways to help them through a stressful situation at school, or discussing things like drugs, finances, and sex, these are essential conversations you don’t want to avoid. Just remember that if you don’t talk to your teens about these challenging topics, someone else will.
Essential conversations parents should have with your teenagers
Dish About Money
As your child gets older, money becomes more important. Having a little cash can give them some freedom to purchase things they want. It even helps with essentials like:
- other items when they’re out and about
However, it’s critical to discuss things like:
- how to save money for college
- create a budget
- balance a checkbook
One of the easiest ways to start the money conversation is to open a custodial bank account, or consider setting up a credit, or debit card, in their name. Many of the top cards give you parental controls so you limit spending in specific categories. You can also look for cards that come with apps, like Greenlight, which makes it simple to help them save for larger purchases as well as decide how much money they’ll give to charities each month.
Chat About Sex
Talking about sex with your kids goes far beyond the birds and the bees. You need to be prepared to talk about:
- safe sex
- emotional aspects of intimate relationships
- what sexual consent and preventing sexual assault may look like
The CDC reports teens who chat with their parents about sex are more likely to delay sex and use protection when they do engage in a sexual relationship.
It’s essential you prepare for this conversation. Don’t strike it up at an inopportune time or bring it up before you’ve had plenty of time to consider how you feel about the topic. Be sure you know:
- what you want to say
- how you want to say it
- how often you plan on bringing up sex with your teens
End every conversation by letting them know how much you care about them. Reinforce keeping communication open and honest.
Discuss Drug Use
When your parents talked to you about drugs and alcohol, it was probably a much different conversation than the one you’ll have with your teen. You’ll need to discuss legal and illegal drugs with your kids, including popular ones like CBD oils and marijuana.
Experts warn that marijuana poses a specific set of problems for teens. The teen brain isn’t fully developed. It makes teens more susceptible to addiction. Recent studies have discovered the younger a person is when they start using pot, the higher the likelihood they have of fighting with other drug problems into adulthood.
Much like the sex conversation, know what you want to say and how you want to say it before you open up the drug dialogue. Look for resources online that you can suggest to help them understand the consequences of using drugs at such a young age. Be open and ready to listen to them about how they feel about the topic, too.
Converse About Talents and Possible Jobs
You’ve been watching your kids for years now and can probably list three or four of their best talents with ease. However, when they’re growing up, they might not see these characteristics as clearly as you do. This is the precise reason you need to spend a little time asking them about their talents and future career plans.
Share with them what you think their talents are and how they can be used in the future. For example, if you have an artistically talented child, jot down five careers they may want to consider. Ask them about their dreams, and if there are any careers they are considering, too. This can be a crucial conversation to have with teens who hate school and having difficulty thinking of a career path because of that, as you can help them see other possibilities for their future.
Gab About Peer Pressure
Peer pressure is real. It can cause good kids to make poor decisions about breaking the rules, skipping school, or using drugs. Before you dig into this conversation, you may want to have a few ways of talking to your teen about peer pressure. Here are a few you can try:
- Make them a captive audience. Bring up the subject of peer pressure when they can’t quickly get away, like in the car.
- Come up with a role-play. Write out a few possible peer pressure scenarios and then have fun with it. Take turns being in both roles so that you can give them ideas about how you may handle the situations.
- Share a story from your past. If you caved to peer pressure, share the honest truth with your kids. Let them know what you learned from it and how you would handle the situation differently today.
Moving Forward with Your Teens
Thinking about these conversations may give you anxiety and make your palms sweat. However, leaving these critical topics up to your kids to figure out on their own isn’t a viable option. If you want your teen to make the right decisions, and find peace in the present moment, chat with them about these topics and more. The few uncomfortable moments will be well worth it when your kids are healthy and happy young adults.
Author Bio: Brooke Faulkner is a writer and mom in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can check out more of her writing on twitter, @faulknercreek