How This Mom Got Her Kids to Open Up and Talk to Her

Long gone are the days when my children tell me about everything about what they feel, say or hear.

They no longer share their excitement with much enthusiasm about new experiences or talk about things that make them sad. Sometimes they will talk to me, but only when asked and even then they usually need to be asked multiple times. Often they just tell me to quit pestering them.

three young girls chatting
My teens are more willing to open up to me in front of their friends. (Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash)

I never have to ask them to play the game “Let’s see who can go without talking the longest” any longer. In fact, I say things like, “Talk to me, please,” and “Tell me something, anything,” as they ignore me and retreat to their rooms with beef jerky and ice cream.

Teens have a way of retracting into their own world. As their parents we know that there are things, big things happening in their world and we desperately want to be a part of it.

While we aren’t mind readers we all know when something is going on with our child whether it’s good, bad, or somewhere in the middle. We can make ourselves available and ask questions until we are blue in the face but that doesn’t make them talk.

For me and my kids, it was as if a switch shut off when they turned thirteen (ish). That switch was the toggle to our line of communication and it’s been tough for me.

I know it’s not comfortable to come to your mom and tell her about friendship troubles, love triangles, or being tempted by drinking or drugs. I know this because I was a teenager once with a mom who was pretty open and made me feel comfortable and she still wasn’t my go-to for advice.

In fact, I’d avoid having these conversations with her because something about it felt very unnatural. Also, I literally thought she knew nothing about my life.

I want my kids to have a different experience with me. While I know I won’t be their best friend during these years, I want to be a bigger part of their lives and I’ve found a way to be in the know a little more than I was before.

I Talk to My Teens About Dicey Subjects

I discovered this teen-hack a few months ago when I was driving my daughter and a few of her friends to a haunted hayride. The drive was over an hour long and along the way we were listening to music and talking about boys, friends, and how anxious all of these girls felt each day.

I learned on that car ride that they cry often and aren’t sure why. They are anxious a lot of the time and they don’t know what to do with those feelings. My daughter told me about an incident that happened to her at a dance–something I’m not sure she would have shared had she not heard her friends open up to me.

My Daughter’s Friends Consider Me to be an Adult They Can Trust

It seemed they trusted me and felt that it was safe to talk openly without me overreacting. As soon as my daughter heard them open up, she started dishing out information I’ve been asking her about for over a year.

I didn’t make a huge deal out of it , but it was hard holding back my tears of joy, because it was the most connected I’d felt to my daughter in a long time.

Her shoulder shrugs and “I don’t know”s were replaced with actual words about actual feelings. I was getting answers. I was getting to know her friends. I was showing her she could talk to me without me freaking out, lecturing her, or crying (again, it took strength to hold back those eye leaks).

Maybe her friends opening up to me first is what prompted her. Perhaps it was because it wasn’t as intense as it was with just the two of us and having another person, someone she was close with, as a buffer was all it took to get her to feel comfortable.

I’m not sure what it was and I decided not to ask– why try and fix something if it is working just fine, right? The relationship between a mother and her teens can be fragile and I’ve learned along the way, there are times when they need to lead, and times when I need to lead. This was her time.

And when I tried the same technique with my son a few weeks later after I picked him and his friend up and fed them fast food, the same thing happened. I casually asked a question about a class that he was struggling in and voila I got all the inside information.

Then, I decided to dig a little deeper and asked about one of their mutual friends who they no longer hang out with.

In under two minutes I got more information out of those boys than I have over the past few months, during which I asked my son repeatedly about the friendship.

If you feel like the communication with your teenager is going down the drain, I can’t suggest this enough. It worked for me and trust me, my teens have been like sealed vaults these past few years.

As an added plus it’s helped me get to know their friends and hopefully has given them a safe place to vent if they are struggling.

Parenting a teen? The Grown and Flown book is for you!


Grown and Flown book

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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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