[Skip to Content]
Helen DeVos Children's Hospital

Helen DeVos Children's Hospital
100 Michigan Street NE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
616.391.9000


Talking to Your Parents or Other Adults

You probably talk to your friends way more than you talk to your parents. That's natural, even if you and your parents have a great relationship.

Still, it's good to have a parent's help, advice, and support. You can get support from other adults in your life, too. Maybe there's a teacher, mentor, or coach you like to talk with.

At first, it might seem awkward to open up, especially when talking about some subjects. Or it might feel harder if it's been a while since you had a good heart-to-heart. Here are some tips to make it easier to talk.

Talk About Everyday Stuff — and Do It Every Day

The more you do something, the easier it gets. Talking to the adults in your life about everyday stuff builds a bond. It makes it easier when you need to discuss something more serious.

Find something to chat about each day. You can keep it brief and casual. Talk about how your team did at the track meet. Share something one of your teachers said. Tell them about a school project. Share a fun post or picture. Even small talk about what's for dinner can keep you feeling close.

Do things together that you both enjoy. Go for a walk. Work out together. Cook, eat, play, make music, help out, or just hang out together. This gives you a chance to have a casual chat.

It's never too late to start. If things feel strained between you and your parent, ease into it. Mention that cute thing the dog did. Watch a funny movie together to share a laugh. Talking about little things might be a way to get closer if you need to.

How to Talk About Difficult Topics

Maybe you need to break bad news to a parent, like failing an exam. Maybe you're feeling scared or stressed about something. Or there's something personal you want to share, like a special person in your life. But you don't know how they'll react. Or how it will feel to tell them. Or how you'll find the words.

To help you prepare, you can:

1. Think about what you want or need from your parent.

Do you want to tell them something important? Ask for their help? Do you want them to listen and hear you out? Do you need their support? Or their advice? Do you need their permission for something? Or help with a problem you're having?

It helps if you're clear about what you want. Put it into words. For example:

  • "I need to tell you about a problem I'm having. I just want you to listen right now so you know what's bothering me. I'm not ready for advice yet."
  • "I need your advice about something. Can we talk?"
  • "I need to get your permission to go on a class trip next week. Can I tell you about it?"

2. Think about how you feel.

Are you worried about how a parent or other adult might react? Scared that they'll be mad or disappointed? Embarrassed to talk about something sensitive or personal? Feel guilty because you got in some trouble? Don't let those feelings stop you from talking. Instead, let your feelings be part of the conversation.

Put feelings into words. For example:

  • "I want to tell you something that's pretty personal. And I'm worried about how you'll react. But I want to tell you anyway."
  • "I need to talk to you. But I'm afraid I'll disappoint you."
  • "I need to talk to you about something. But it's kind of embarrassing."
  • "I have something to tell you. I'm not proud of what I've done, and you might be mad. But I know I need to tell you. Can you hear me out?"

3. Pick a good time to talk.

Find a time when your parent or the adult you want to talk to isn't busy with something else. Ask, "Can we talk? Is now a good time?" And then, just get started.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: September 2021