Asking good questions is a great way to build any relationship. It helps the questioner learn more about the other person, as well as communicating a certain level of genuine caring for that person. Why bother asking, if I don’t really care, right? In the spirit of opening important doors of conversation and facilitating a more powerful relationship between you and your teen, I have five questions to share with you. While some of these could certainly overlap in the same talk together, I wouldn’t try to fit them all into the same conversation. In fact, I would recommend prayerfully looking for, or perhaps creating, the right time for each one. Buckle up! This could be quite a wild ride!
1. What is your biggest fear? Understanding your teens fears allows such an incredible window into their spirits. You may already have a good idea what some of these might be. But you never know what else may be haunting or taunting your adolescent between those Beats headphones. Ask and be ready to gently reassure and guide. How you respond to what your teen shares with you can make a huge impact on how likely he/she is to talk to you about other bigger things in the future.
2. From whom or where have you learned the most about sex? I told you to buckle up, didn’t I? The responses to a question like this one will vary greatly, based on experiences, personality, and the quality of your relationship with your teen. If you have shown your teen over the years that you can calmly handle big issues, and you have taken time to have good heart talks along the way, you may just hear more than you would have imagined on this one. Be sure you make it clear that this isn’t a setup to “bust” your daughter or son. The hope is simply to discover how your teen is being led regarding sexual information and values, and to make it clear that you are there as a primary resource and guide.
3. Who is your greatest role model, and why? Seriously, wouldn’t you like to know? And for goodness sake, don’t pressure her/him to name you as their role model! Create conversations and emotional space that invite the truth, not flattery, avoidance, or manipulation. This could really be a fun one to discuss. Make the most of it.
4. What have you never heard from me, but wish you could? This one may not evoke much response. It may not be a big deal for your kids. If not – great! But I can tell you as a therapist that this is a question, if asked with sincerity and compassion, that has the potential to lead a son or daughter on a better path for the rest of their days. Think about this: what if your Mom or Dad asked this question of you? Hmmmm…
5. Is there any way I have ever hurt or seriously disappointed you that I have never addressed or tried to make right? Again, there may not really be anything to this one in your relationship. But far better to ask than assume. This question has the power to heal and transform your teen’s spirit in ways you may not even be able to imagine. Be bold. Be compassionate. Be genuine. And ask.
If asking, or even considering, any of these questions stirs up dynamics you don’t know how to effectively handle, please feel free to reach out to me. Or find a Christian counselor or other helping professional in your area that can help provide you with the space and tools to work through it in the most effective way for the growth of your teen and your family life. Blessings of openness and honesty to you and yours.