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Teens: Learning About How to Talk to Your Parent or Guardian About a Difficult Topic

How can you plan for your conversation?

When you need to have a hard conversation, it's normal to feel nervous about it or worry about how it will go. But hard conversations can be smoother when you plan ahead for them. Here are some tips.

  • Organize your thoughts.

    When you're nervous, or when emotions are high, it can be easy for a conversation to get off track. You can forget things you wanted to say, or you may say things you didn't mean to. Before your conversation, try writing down your most important points and what your main goals are. That can help you stay focused.

  • Choose a good time to talk.

    For example, if weekdays are busy and stressful, choose a time during the weekend when things feel calmer. If you live with a lot of people, you may need to have the conversation during a walk so that you can have some privacy. Or you could schedule a specific time to talk. You might say, "I need to talk to you about something important. Can we plan a time with just us?"

  • Share how you're feeling.

    Try to identify what makes this topic difficult. Is it embarrassing? Are you worried that your parent or guardian will be disappointed in you? If you're open about what you're feeling, it can help them better understand your experience. You can say things like "It feels awkward to talk about this because it's kind of embarrassing," or "It's hard for me to tell you this because I'm worried you'll be disappointed in me."

  • Be clear about what kind of help you need.

    Are you looking for advice or guidance? Maybe you need help with a difficult situation. Whatever it is, try to be clear about what kind of support you need.

  • Be ready to listen, too.

    If you need to talk to your parent or guardian about something that might upset them, they might have a reaction. Give them time to tell you what they're thinking or feeling without reacting or getting upset. Remember, you've probably had a chance to think about the issue a bit. But they're hearing about it for the first time.

  • Find a different adult to talk to, if you need to.

    You know your parent or guardian best. If you're afraid of how they might react, or if you don't feel safe, talk to a different adult first. Choose someone you trust, like a family friend, a teacher, or a school counsellor.

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