"My Teen Won't Talk to Me!"

Jan Faull, MEd, on how parents can get their teens to open up to them.

Part of Their Development

Mother Talking to Teenage Daughter with Yellow Background

Q. My teen often answers questions with one-word answers. It makes me feel distant and estranged from her, though she's a great kid and has great conversations with friends, from what I can tell. Should I be worried?

A. It is not unusual at all for teens to speak to their parents with one-word answers. "Where are you going?" "Places." "When will you be back?" "Sometime." "Who will you be with?" "People."

But your final response should be, "I need more information."

That being said, the days of your child bounding in the front door with the details of her day are over. She's breaking away from you so that she'll eventually be able to stand on her own as a young adult. Peers bridge the gap between dependence on parents to becoming a full-functioning independent adult. That's why she talks nonstop to peers but not to you.

Many parents wish their teens could sidestep this attraction to peers, but it's not part of the developmental plan. You couldn't stop your 2-year-old from having temper tantrums and you can't stop your teen from relying on peers and go back to relying on you.

Some parents mourn this loss of their child's closeness. Of course you miss those conversations and friendly interactions. Once your child moves out after high school and establishes herself confidently as a young adult, she'll come back for easy conversations and even ask for advice. But in order to determine who she is right now, she needs to separate from you.

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