1 Kings 12:8 “But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the youngmen that were grown up with him, and which stood before him:”
Have you ever tried to talk to your Teens? Let me guess, it goes something like this…
“How was school?” you ask. And the answer… “Okay.” Maybe sometimes you’ll get a sentence or two more than that, but mostly, the conversation is dead before it starts.
Just like Rehoboam, many times teens prefer conversation and counsel from their peers instead of their parents and pastors. How do you lay the bait for those deep discussions and get those teens to open up and allow you to influence them?
Influence is available, when Interest is apparent. When teens know you actually care about them and are not just “making conversation”, they will speak more freely and frequently.
Here are a few questions that can help open lines of communication between you and your young people and Turn up the Talks with your Teens.
1. People say, “You learn something new every day”. What’s something you can teach me today?
Whether it’s a fun fact they learned at school or a new game or skill they can show you, teens love the “role reversal” of getting to explain something to a leader. And who knows, that skateboard trick, new video game or trivia about world history might come in handy someday!
2. What are some “little things” we should be thankful for today?
Not just for November! It’s easy to get caught up in cycles of complaining, but taking time to list blessings from God can improve everyone’s attitude. For this, don’t think of major categories like family or freedom.
Instead name the sorts of everyday happy moments we take for granted: the smell of cookies baking, crisp fall leaves, a baby laughing. You might be surprised at what your teens come up with.
3. Did you see anyone do something kind this week? Tell me about it.
Whether your child was the giver, receiver, or just a witness of an act of kindness, this can be a great discussion-starter. Be ready with your own story if your teen can’t think of anything… and consider asking what small things both of you can do for others to brighten up their day, too. Feel free to create a challenge where both of you find an opportunity to do good.
4. What was the hardest part of your day today?
Sometimes this will prompt a story of frustration at school that you can talk through, other times it will be a triumph of something a teen struggled with and succeeded.
Either way, the hard stuff, from a difficult friend situation to a pesky algebra test, problems, make for great talking points.
5. Imagine for a second that you were the teacher/parent for a week. What are some things you would do?
This can be a fun “what-if” game, but can also give you some insights into what a teen enjoys and how he or she thinks. Chances are, the answers will be a mix of serious and silly. Feel free to keep on going with follow-up questions.
(“Oh, so everyone would get out of school early everyday? What would we do with all that extra time?”)
6. Give me a “high” and a “low” from you day.
This is a classic for a reason—it opens up some great discussion, gives teens a place to vent and celebrate, and can result in some funny stories. Especially if you do this on a regular basis, teens will start to be prepared to answer.
Be sure to contribute your own highs and lows too so your teens know that even leaders have bad/embarrassing/funny moments in the day.
7. If you had to describe how you’re feeling today in terms of weather, what would you be?
When a teen answers “mostly sunny” or “drizzly, gloomy rain” or “that calm place in the middle of a hurricane right before everything’s about to hit,” it gives you a better understand of where they are, and makes it easier for them to communicate often-complex and unnamable emotions.
8. What are some things you’re looking forward to in the next few weeks? Is there anything you’re nervous about?
This pair of questions helps you know what’s coming next for your teens, and how you can help them with both the joys and the fears they face. Even if the volleyball tournament doesn’t sound exciting to you, you can make a note to ask how it went later. If you loved piano recitals and can’t relate to a teens nerves, knowing they are nervous can help you be extra supportive.
9. If you could make a holiday to honor any person—someone you know or someone in history—who would it be? How would you celebrate?
This is another silly hypothetical question that can tell you something interesting about your teens. It’s a great way to learn who they look up to and why…and some of the celebration ideas can be fun to picture, too!
10. Who is someone in the Bible who you’d love to talk to in heaven someday? What kind of questions would you ask?
This is a fun question for a Sunday/Wednesday night ride home. Everyone can chime in with a person or two and the details they’d most want to know. Feel free to share your person and questions as well.
11. What song that we sing at church is your favorite and why?
This is another great Sunday question. Some teens will have an immediate answer to this; others won’t be sure, especially if they’ve gotten so used to the songs that they’ve become familiar. Listing a few might help get them started. Sharing why your favorites are favorites will help them focus more on the music in church.
12. What kind of advice would you give to someone who [insert situation here]?
This is a very open-ended question for a reason—it’s meant to be adaptable to anything you want to talk about! The example you give can be based on a situation you know or knew, or completely hypothetical.
Raising issues like gossip, girl drama, boys, music, dress, etc. Phrasing the question in terms of someone else can make it feel less personal and easier to approach. We often speak more truth to others about their situation than we can about our own… and teens love giving advice as much as adults, but are rarely asked to do so.
13. What’s something happening in the world that scares you? What about something that’s exciting?
Especially in the current climate, both parts of this question are important. Teens need to talk about their fears in a world where most headlines are bad…but they also need to know that there are good things happening too. And for both answers, it’s a great opportunity to remind your teens that God is in control of everything that happens. Nothing is outside of his reach!
One thing these all have in common is that none can be answered with a simple, “Yes,” “No,” or even the long-time favorite, “Fine.” Use these to build conversations that create a relationship of influence and cultivate interest on both sides. Whether you call, text, teach or drive your teens this week, use these 13 Things to Turn up the Talks with your Teens.