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How teenagers can speak with their parents about difficult subjects.

Speaking with parents about sensitive issues is difficult. From dating to studying overseas, there are many issues that teenagers need to discuss with their parents. Dr. Andrew Adler, Director of and Clinical Psychologist at the Adler Family Centre, suggests several approaches to beginning these conversations.

• Begin conversations with parents light-heartedly. For example, the use of humour is often an effective strategy to begin difficult conversations, resulting in more relaxed interactions.
• Carefully consider the goals of conversations (e.g., needing help, obtaining permission).
• Accept that it is normal to feel nervous when talking about serious and sensitive subjects. Instead of trying to hide them, it is usually better to be aware of one’s feelings and express them directly.
• Find the right time talk with parents. It is generally not a good idea to talk about something important when parents are busy.
• Remain calm. “Try to talk about the topic in a calm and respectful way,” Dr. Adler says. “No matter what, do not become angry. If you lose your temper, your parents may become angry themselves, or they won’t take you seriously. “It is also very important to remember that, no matter how calm you are, your parents still may become mad at you. Try to remain as calm as possible. Also, tell your parents that you are glad that they are listening to you. Everyone likes to be respected, including your parents.”

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