As children become teens, it's normal for them to want an increased sense of autonomy. Unfortunately, that means pushing parents away and not letting them know anything that goes on in their lives. Pretty soon having conversations with them can feel like pulling teeth, but we (and every other parent) are on a mission to prevent that.
Asking the right questions at the dinner table can really get teens to open up. And since Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, this is a great opportunity to test this out, especially if the long weekend is the first time your teen is coming home from university.
Remember with all conversations to listen, really listen to what your kids are saying.
"Remember with all conversations to listen, really listen to what your kids are saying," child and family therapist Jennifer Kolari tells HuffPost Canada in an email. "It's also important to reflect and ask for examples and reasons why in order to keep conversations open ended and flowing."
Below, Kolari, who is also the author of Connected Parenting and You're Ruining My Life, suggests three questions that will get your teens to open up this Thanksgiving.
1. If you were suddenly given a large sum of money and that money could only be donated to one charity or cause, what would it be and why?
This might seem like a random question, but Kolari says it can actually get your teen thinking "about what matters to them beyond their own experiences."
The conversation could lead to something they've learned at school or seen in the news, opening it up to a wider discussion.
"It can also lead into a conversation about gratitude, a great topic for Thanksgiving dinner," she added.
2. If you could do one thing for the rest of your life that involves your passion — and you would be paid for it, no matter what it is — what would it be?
This is a great question to ask teens returning home from university to get them to open up about their career goals and how they'll achieve them.
"[This] can get them thinking about their passions and their gifts, which can lead to a discussion about how to make sure they have time for those things or help them think about what they would like to do for a living if they are struggling with that," Kolari says. "The idea is to start a conversation about meaningful work."
3. Millennials are getting a bad rap. What do older adults have to learn and what do you think millennials can teach them?
You might want to reword this to apply to your kid directly ("You rolled your eyes when I talked about Twitter being confusing. Can you help me understand how you use it?", for example), but this question is meant to create a connection between parents and teens.
"The third question can help young people think about how they can make a contribution to the world and to our current thinking," Kolari explains. "Millennials do have a bad rap, but they are passionate, compassionate, and think outside the box in ways that [older generations] don't."
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