How to Talk about Difficult Things with Teenagers

If you need to talk about difficult things with your teenage children, you can follow these tips to have a proper conversation.
How to Talk about Difficult Things with Teenagers
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Parents can find talking to their teenage kids quite challenging. But, why does this happen? It happens because teenagers are forming their identities; they seem to be young adults but, even though they’re responsible and more mature, they’re still evolving and they have a long way ahead. This is why we’ll give you some tips to talk about difficult things with teenagers.  


Teenagers use media on their own. They interact with it by reading the news, creating content, sharing comments, videos and memes. Therefore, talking about difficult things with them is essential.

Usually, they hear about difficult topics in the news or other places, such as videogame chat rooms or social media platforms. In addition, they care more about their online friends’ opinions than yours. Besides, they tend to read other people’s comments before even reading the whole article.

Mother having a difficult conversation with her son.

How to talk about difficult things with teenagers

Since they usually think they’ve got more information than you, they tend to become upset when having a conversation. Therefore, you need to motivate them to look for more information and acquire more knowledge. This way, they’ll be able to come up with more clever arguments when talking about certain topics. This is why we’ll give you some tips to help you have difficult conversations with teenagers. 

Promote open conversations

Teenagers need to know they can ask questions, have opinions and talk freely without being afraid of the consequences. Therefore, you should say something such as: “I might not agree with you, but I’m interested in what you have to say”.

You can ask them open questions and tell them you support their ideas. In this sense, you can say things such as: “What do you think about police brutality? What do you know about it? Who do you think is to blame for it? Why do you think that?”

Tell the truth when there’s something you don’t know. It’s ok for teenagers to realize their parents don’t have all the answers to their questions. In this case, you can say something such as: “I don’t know. Let’s find out together”.

Help them identify the complexity of difficult things. What’s behind social and political matters, as well as traditions, make us think that some things aren’t able to be modified. So, ask them: “Why are difficult matters, such as rape, violence, and crimes so hard to solve? What should happen to fix certain problems, such as ending poverty?”

Share your own values with them. In order to do this, you can tell your children how you feel about certain issues and explain to them why you have certain values. For example, if you want your children to be respectful regarding other people’s differences, talk to them about tolerance and acceptance.

More tips to talk about difficult things with teenagers

We’ll give you some more tips to talk to your teenage kids about difficult things:

  • Talk about the news: ask them to analyze how different sources follow certain ideas, and how that affects other people’s opinions. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat tend to offer them content from their friends that may show their opinions about certain topics. What are the differences between those opinions and the ones from the news? Then, you can ask them questions, such as: “Do you think a journalist must go through a certain experience in order to write an article about opioid addictions?”
Mother talking to teenager.
  • Ask them what they’d do in case they found themselves in a difficult situation. Since teenagers are still looking for their identities, they tend to be willing to face risks. Therefore, to think about the way they’d act if they go through a terrible situation feels like an adventure and an opportunity to prove themselves and their own decisions. In this case, you could say something such as: “If you got stuck in the middle of a political protest where there’s violence and some people got hurt, what would you do?”
  • Help them think about possible solutions. Even though teenagers can be quite cynical, they can also be idealists. If things are going to be better, we should trust this generation to make it happen. So, show them you trust them for the job. And, ask them things, such as: “If you had the power, what problems would you solve first? How would you do it? Why?”

After following these tips, you’ll realize that talking to your teenage kids about difficult things is easier than you thought. Besides, you’ll help them have a critical mind, and they’ll learn to analyze what happens around them and in their own lives.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.