If you’re struggling to get genuine conversations going with your teenager, consider these three questions.


“I try to ask open-ended questions like they told me to but even still, my daughter just kind of shrugs and gives me only a word or two before going upstairs to her room…”

Are you asking about something she’s genuinely interested in talking about? 

It’s probably not any of these topics:

    • Her day at school.
    • How she thinks she did on her math test.
    • How practice went.
    • How much does she have left to do on her science project.
    • Whether she completed her chores.

Ask her instead what her favorite Tik Toks are these days, or if you were to take her to NYC for a day trip what sort of things would she want to do, or where she thinks the family could go for dinner out that would be interesting and cool and different from their standard “chain” fare?

Is your question about her friend really about her friend, or about something else?

Kids pick up on “fact-finding” missions right away:

Don’t ask your daughter whether her friend Julie going to be at the party if what you really want to know is whether Julie’s boyfriend’s best friend, Owen – the boy you don’t like – is going to be there. Just say, “You know, I worry about that kid, Owen. Are you likely to run into him tonight?” She’ll appreciate your honesty even if she doesn’t like the question.

Do you sometimes hijack conversations in order to make a point?

Maybe your son was telling you that he really likes taking woodshop at school and the next thing he knew you were reminding him he still needed an idea for his Eagle Scout project and since he liked woodshop could he maybe build a park bench or something…?


Good-feeling conversations between parents and their teenagers occur when the interests of both parties are engaged. When a conversation serves only the interest of the parent, it will inevitably grind to a halt. That’s why it’s important for parents who are trying to draw their teens into more frequent and casual conversation be intentional about it, and by that I mean thinking about what might be fun or at least as interesting for your teen to share with you as it will be for you to hear it.

— Janet Sasson Edgette