One of the toughest parts of being a parent is having difficult conversations with your kid. It’s certainly not fun, but it’s necessary. As your kid goes through different stages of life, it’s important that you have these conversations and approach them with care. Having tough conversations with your kids will make them safer, smarter, and more mature. Plus, it’ll strengthen your bond with them.
Before you address the tough stuff, it’s important to know what topics you need to cover. Here are six touchy conversations you should have with your teen.
1. The Birds and the Bees Talk
Parents dread it and so do the kids (maybe even more so than the parents). Regardless, the conversation about sexual relationships is one you need to have. It can be awkward, and parents often struggle with how to approach it. But it’s only awkward if you make it awkward. Come prepared with some solid talking points and treat your teen like the young adult they are.
There are many reasons why you should have the sex talk. One, it makes teens feel safer about coming to you in the future. Two, it opens up the conversation about the importance of practicing safe sex. Make sure they realize that sex is an important issue and one they should not take lightly. Also, tell them how important it is to use contraceptives like condoms and birth control. According to Nurx, the most common and popular method of hormonal birth control is the pill.
2. The Drugs and Alcohol Talk
With the teen years comes peer pressure. Sometimes that peer pressure is about drugs and alcohol. Your kid will have various experiences in their teen years, many of which consist of partying and experimenting. Teens are still learning so much about themselves and about life. They’re still hanging out with friends that may not be the right people for them to hang around.
When it comes to friendships, your teen will have to learn some lessons the hard way. You can only hope that they make the best decisions and act with integrity. But drugs and alcohol are something you can’t afford to take the same risk with. Ask your teen if they’ve experimented with any substances and steer the conversation from there. If you feel they aren’t being safe, address those issues head-on before they get worse.
3. The Talk About Mental Health
The teen years are stressful and emotional to say the least. Self-confidence, feelings of inadequacy, and low self-esteem are just a few issues a teen might struggle with. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, half of all lifetime mental illnesses develop by age 14. Furthermore, 75% develop by age 24.
As your kid approaches their teen years, make sure you’re ready to have the conversation about mental health. This is the most important time to have that talk. They’re at the age where they could very likely develop a mental illness. Make sure they know that anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder are all actually quite common. Discuss options for addressing mental health issues like therapy so your teen knows they have resources available to them.
They shouldn’t have to feel ashamed. In fact, if they’re ever feeling anxious or depressed, they should know exactly what to do. That’s what you’re they’re for, to provide guidance!
4. The Talk About the Importance of Academics
Your kid may have good behavior in school, but as they get older, academia becomes important, too. A teenager doesn’t always want to hear about why their education matters. They’re often more concerned about having fun and being a teenager. Having this conversation can lead to an argument. Even worse, your kid may care even less about school as a result.
You should warn them of the consequences that will follow if they fail to focus on academics. Explain to them that good grades will help them get into college and help them be eligible for scholarships. This is also a good time to talk about the resources their school may offer if they are having trouble. School counselors, the writing center, and tutors can all help bridge the academic gap for teens. If you can offer a well-rounded support system and are supportive of your teen in high school, they’ll be successful. It’s a team effort!
5. The Talk About Financial Responsibility
Your kid won’t be a kid forever. Eventually, they can’t just grab $20 from you before heading out to the movies. They’ll have to work for their money. And as they get older, they’ll have even more expenses that may necessitate a budget. Having this talk is never fun because many kids don’t want to take on this responsibility.
Whether we like it or not, being financially responsible is part of being a responsible adult. Having this talk with your teen will set them up for success in the future. Encourage them to get a part-time job so they can experience working for and earning their money. From there, they can practice paying for small expenses and saving money.
These crucial skills are important to have throughout your entire adult life. If a parent encourages financial responsibility at a young age, the teen is more likely to carry those skills into adulthood.
6. The Talk About the Reality of Cyberbullying
In today’s digital age, kids are communicating on social media more than ever before. Your kid might roll their eyes at you and think they aren’t at risk, but cyberbullying happens all the time. It’s the sad truth, but people will get brave behind a screen and say hurtful things to their peers. The last thing you want is your teen getting depressed due to mean messages they receive online.
Find out if your teen is engaging in any of this online talk. Whether they are the one being bullied or doing the bullying, make sure it stops. If your teen is new to social media, be proactive and have the cyberbullying conversation before it happens. Warn your teen about the dangers of social media and share resources with them that can help.
Addressing the tough subjects isn’t always fun, but doing so will only help your teen in the long run. Not only will they make better decisions, but you’ll be closer to them as a result. Sure, your kids can resent you all they want in their teen years. But one day they’ll look back and realize you talked with them because you cared. Have tough conversations. You’ll be thankful you did!