303: How to Talk to Teenagers // Brooke Romney

 

 

It can be so tricky to know how to talk with teenagers

When I was a teenager, I would talk to my parents about everything. That might not surprise you based on how freely I spill my guts on this podcast, but I know that most teenagers are not this way. What are your children like? Are they eager to talk, or are they more hesitant? 

A commonly requested topic for the show is parenting teens, and Brooke Romney is honestly one of the very first people who comes to mind. Brooke has incredible advice for parents on maintaining connections during the teenage years. 

Brooke is a mom of four boys. She’s also a professional writer, speaker, and inspiring human being. I’ll put all of her resources at the bottom of this post so you can access her incredible work. 

 

Let’s dive in and learn from Brooke on how to talk with teenagers

 

Brooke Romney’s Takeaways for How to Talk with Teenagers

 

 

1. Lecture less and listen more. 

If you had a friend where every time you got together with her, she told you all the things that she didn’t like about you or that she hoped you would change, would you want to open up to that friend? Would you want to spend time with her? 

Like, of course not, right?

It sounds silly, but it’s one of the most important things to know when talking about how to talk with teenagers. Too often, the basis of the conversations revolves around what they’re doing wrong. Yes, they’re falling short in many areas, and they’re at a point where we feel like they should be taking responsibility and doing some great things. We also feel such a responsibility to make sure they’re ready to be adults. 

But if that’s all we focus on when we talk with our teenagers, then we shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t want to share things with us. 

This is much easier said than done. To help, Brooke gives some awesome ideas for ways we can connect with our teens rather than lecture them: 

Compliment them. Notice the good they do – it’s there!

Get excited about their thing. This can be so hard, especially in a digital world, but it’s such an important part of talking with teenagers. It’s worth doing! 

Validate their problems. When your teens come to you with frustration or problems, don’t invalidate them, even if what they share doesn’t seem like a big deal. Remember, it is a big deal to them! 

Share things about your life with them! Your teens want to know what’s going on with you, what you’re interested in, and what problems you’re facing. Involve them as much as you can. 

Honor who they are. Remember, they are their own person. Don’t compare what you were like as a teen to what they are like. Let them explore who they are without feeling like they’re disappointing you.

 

2. Elevate your conversations.

I love this takeaway from Brooke. She puts it bluntly: “I think sometimes teens don’t engage with us because we are bad at conversation.” 

And it’s true, right? When we talk with teenagers, we can get stuck asking the same questions, like, “How was your day?”  Or we can go straight to the really probing questions, like, “Why didn’t you sit with so-and-so at lunch?” 

Brooke reminds us that our teenagers are growing up, and they’re ready for more than those basic, everyday, boring questions. They’re going to school and hearing about the Holocaust, about abortion, about white supremacists. They’re hearing about active shooter drills. They have classmates who have died from suicide. People are sexting; people are vaping. There’s pornography and sexualized images in their world all of the time.

They deal with this every day, and then they come home to our chipper, “Hey, how was your day?” 

Ooof. Does this hit you like it hits me? 

So how do we talk with teenagers about the hard topics? 

Brooke encourages us to get a lot more real. She tells us that we need to get comfortable with tackling issues that feel relevant and important to them. We can’t put blinders on and pretend like nothing bad happens. It’s so important to respect that our teens are growing up and can handle nuanced and messy topics. 

One suggestion Brooke gives is to talk with your teenagers about current events. Do your best to bring out both sides of an issue. It’s not a time to indoctrinate your kids with your political ideas and beliefs. It’s a time to ask them questions and hear how they feel about things. You might be surprised at the deep thoughts they’re carrying around! 

 

3. Hold the judgment of them and others. 

Even the very best teens do dumb things.

The goal is that our teens know that when they do something dumb (when not if!), they can talk with us and be supported by us. 

One way to maintain a relationship with our teens is to hold the judgment – both of our teens and others. Remember, our teens are listening to us all the time. They’re taking notes mentally about how we feel about them and about other people. 

But how do we talk with teenagers about this stuff? We want to teach them, right? We want them to avoid many of the things in life that bring hardship. 

It’s difficult, but when we hear about something bad someone’s done, which we will, it’s so important to show grace toward their faults.

When we show grace with others’ faults, our teens realize we’ll show grace with their faults. The opposite is also true. When we judge and talk badly about others, our kids realize that that’s how we might feel about them if they make a mistake.

Can I give another ooof here? 

I get a pit in my stomach at the thought of my kids hearing me judge someone for something they’ve done and then internalizing that I would feel that way about them if they made the same mistake. I’m so grateful for this reminder! 

This can be tricky, but when topics come up about the mistakes of others, Brooke suggests talking with your teen about the issue rather than the person. Reframe things so your teenager knows mistakes happen, but they don’t affect the worth of the individual. 

 

I’m so grateful to Brooke for sharing her wisdom on how to talk with teenagers with us! She’s given me so much to think own as my own kids get close to their teen years. I hope you’ve found it as helpful as I have. 

 

To listen to the full interview, head to your favorite podcast platform! 

 

>>> Did any of Brooke’s takeaways on how to talk with teeangers speak to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! 

 

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