Parent Quiz: What Would You Say To Your Teen?

We all know it’s important to say the right thing to our teens. But in certain sticky situations (dating, friends) it’s hard to know the best way to respond. Take this quiz to help hone your skills. Then go ahead and try out some of these approaches on your own teenager:

1. Your teenage daughter wants to go to a concert with a boy you don’t know. You ask the boys name, how old he is, and where he lives. She accuses you of snooping into her personal life. What would your response be?

a. “I feel nervous about letting you go off with someone I don’t know. I need to meet him first.

b. Sweetie, if I don’t look out for you, who will?

c. “No way! I don’t know him, and the last two guys you brought home were punks.

Answer a.This response beautifully spells out how you feel and what you need. From there, the ball is in her court. She gets to figure out how to make things right.

Answer b. This response is warm, but its also confusing. Are you saying you love her and you’re worried about her? Or that you don’t believe she can take care of herself? Its hard to tell. Shell probably have trouble understanding your message, too.

Answer c. This response packs a double-whammy. It says you’re not willing to hear her side and that she has bad taste in friends. Things can only go downhill from here.

2. Your teen bursts into tears and confesses she had a huge fight with her best friend. What would you say?

a. “You sound very sad about that, honey.”

b. “Well, honey, I’m sure it wasn’t your fault.”


c. “That’s no big surprise. She’s such a snob. How could you stand her?”

Answer a. This response says you understand what shes feeling, it hides any judgments you may have, and it leaves the door open so she can tell you more. As she talks, respond with, I see. Or You must have been really angry. This keeps her story flowing because she feels that you’re listening and you understand her.



Answer b. The tone is supportive, but this response is really just a judgment that wont help you connect with her. Focus on what you see (her emotions). Help her get through the moment and think of ways to cope.



Answer c.Your teen is hurt and wants to talk about the fight she had. This response ignores what she needs, andmay even trigger more anger if she feels like she has to defend her choice in friends.



Here are a few tips for talking with your teen:

  • If your teen feels like he’s being judged or blamed, the connection ends. (He can’t hear you because he’s busy thinking up his defense). Try using “I” statements which let you express yourself without attacking your teenager. You describe his behavior, how you feel about it, and how it affects you.
  • Remember how moody you were as a teen? And how frustrating it was trying to express yourself? Your teen is in that boat now. So when he has an outburst, cut him some slack. It’s normal.


  • Don’t worry about getting it all right the first time. In fact, if you’re struggling with a really hard subject, tackle it in a series of small talks instead of one big one. You may have better luck making your point.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit that you made a mistake and apologize for it. Reminding our teenagers that we’re human doesn’t have to damage our authority.
  • Learn how to recognize typical teen behavior. It can help you keep your emotions under control and save you from falling into the same traps over and over.
  • Conversations get derailed sometimes. It happens to everyone. Just remember that most parents feel like they’re at a loss at times for how to talk with their teenagers. If the conversation isn’t going how you like, take a break and try again another time soon.







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