22 Nov, 2018

…Puberty.

…Dating.

…Sex.

If you’re like me when I was in middle and high school, these are the last topics you feel like bringing up with your parents. Why is it so weird to talk about these issues with the people who probably know us the best and care about us more than anybody else? It’s like there’s this invisible forcefield keeping us from reaching out. I think most of us deep down really want to be able to have these conversations with our parents and ask questions about our bodies and relationships, but we just don’t know how to break the ice. If you’ve got questions you’ve been dying to ask mom and dad (or grandma, grandpa, or any other parental figure in your life), here are some ways to make that a little easier:

1. Breathe.

Seriously, just take some time to chill out. It’s important to enter a potentially tricky conversation with a calm attitude and an open mind. Sit or lie down, close your eyes, and just focus on breathing deeply for a couple minutes.

2. Get some perspective.

Remember that you’re not the first person to ever ask these questions, and that it’s completely normal to want to understand your own body and how healthy relationships work. Also remember that your parents really were your age once, and dealt with most of the same questions and issues you do. They also love you a lot, and more than likely they also want to be able to have these discussions openly with you.

3. Pick a place to have the conversation.

Choose somewhere you and your parent(s) feel comfortable, like the kitchen or your room or in the car on your way somewhere (if you’re traveling, make sure you have enough time to talk).

4. Let your parents know you want to talk.

You don’t have to randomly blurt out, “HOW ARE BABIES MADE?” or “I WANT TO START DATING” or whatever it is you want to talk about. Just let your parental figure know you want to talk about something/ask them some questions, and from there you can both figure out when and where to talk.

5. Be honest.

Feel free to be open about how you’re feeling. It’s okay to let your parents know you’re nervous/scared/excited/whatever emotions are running through you. Be honest also about whatever topic it is you want to bring up. You’ve made it this far in the process of setting up this conversation–don’t let fear get in the way of laying out all your questions and thoughts on the table!

6. Listen well.

Make eye contact, and nod or say something like, “okay” once in a while to show you’re listening. And like we talked about earlier, having an open mind is the best way to enter a conversation. Consider everything your parents say, and don’t reject it immediately just because you don’t like it. If something they said doesn’t make sense, ask them more about it.

7. Do something fun afterward.

After you both have said and asked everything you wanted to, let out all that nervous energy by doing something together you both enjoy. Grab some ice cream, play basketball, or watch an old favorite movie. This is a little way to celebrate a good conversation and let each other know how much you value time together, in the serious and the goofy times.

Hopefully these tips give you more confidence in your ability to bring up the big topics with your family. Everybody’s relationship with their parents is different, so do what works well for you and them. Figuring out how to best talk about these issues could take time and be a process, so don’t get discouraged. Just ride out the nerves, face the awkwardness head on, and give yourself and your parents grace along the way. Once you bring up one question, it should get easier and more natural to bring up questions or problems in the future. You’ve got this, just breathe and go from there!

By Kath Crane