I wish someone would have warned me that I would have to have many difficult and sometimes embarrassing conversations with my children. Bringing up certain subjects can be awkward; but, as much as we might want to avoid certain topics with our children, we're better off facing the. If we don’t have these conversations with them, who will? Since I want to be the main influence in my child’s life, I’ve developed questions to open conversations with my children that I’d like to share with you.

Relationship Conversations

Diving right into that first really awkward set of conversations, let’s talk about relationships. Here’s some things you should ask and be thinking about as you talk with your teen.

What kinds of things do you and your friends like to do? - This is more than an invitation for your kid to tell you about what new Snapchat filter they are all using. Instead, listen for the kinds of activities they are engaged in. Is there a little too much sitting on technology and too little supervision? Or maybe you get an elusive answer, the dreaded “we just hang out and do stuff”. If they seem to always be sitting around, guide the conversation to what outdoor things they may like to do together. Should you get a non-answer, press for more specifics: “Do you guys play video games? Go to the mall?”Stay engaged in the conversation so your child knows you’re serious about talking it out.

Since a lot of people around your age are now getting into their first relationships, how do you feel about dating? - While I’m sure all of us parents would prefer our children not start dating until they leave for college, the reality is they will likely start as early as middle school. Also keep in mind if your child is the only one in their friend group that doesn’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend, they could be feeling left out and depressed. Either way, this can segue into talking about many important topics, such as intimate partner violence and how to have safe sex. Uncomfortable topic for sure, but one they need to hear about from you.

Depending on where your children are in life, some of these conversations may not be appropriate to have in-depth, but you still can talk in general terms.

School Conversations

It is easy to settle for simple answers when it comes to school: “How was school?” followed by “It was fine” are not real conversations though. There are many techniques on how to make conversations more enjoyable, so try to combine them with these conversational gambits.

What are the different social groups at your school and what group do you and your friends fall in? - In this instance, tone can be a real indicator of what you need to talk about next. Maybe your child will try to shrug the question off and mumble something about being part of an undesirable group. A red flag should go up at that point, and you may need to have a serious conversation about how things are for your child socially in school. This can also be true if your child is on top of the social ladder at school. Make sure they are treating the less popular children with kindness. This can also lead into conversations on peer pressure and the importance of academics over popularity.

Which subject do you enjoy the most? - Sounds like a simple question, right? Well it is, but it can lead into many other topics of conversation. What if band class is your child’s favorite class? Are they interested in learning more instruments? Getting more in-depth training on the one they already know? It can also be a good launching point to talk about future plans, as favorite subjects often become career goals. As preparing your child to function in the adult world is one of your jobs as a parent, you can work with them to help them translate passion into enjoyable adult work.

And remember, these aren't just one time conversations (neither are the conversation starters!). As your child ages, you will need to touch base on these subjects again and again. Just think, practice makes perfect and one day you can have a “perfect” conversation with your child.

Author's Bio: 

Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and freelancer, with experience in writing and outreach for organizations that help troubled teen boys and parents. Tyler has offered personal, humorous and research backed advice to readers on parenting tactics, problems in education, issues with social media, various disorders, addiction, and troublesome issues raising teenage boys. Connect with Tyler on: Twitter | Linkedin