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How to Talk to Your Parents

Talk to parents

​​So….how are you supposed to talk to ​​your parents?​

Printable List

  • Pick a parent

    You might feel more comfortable ​talking to just one parent in particular instead of​ both.  If so, put some thought into who would be the best to talk to: mom or dad?  You want to make sure you choose the parent who will take you seriously and get you help.

  • Pick a place

    This is especially important if you have a busy parent or you’ve noticed your parent wanders off in the middle of conversations before.  They can’t escape easily if they’re at a restaurant.  Also, if you’re worried they may yell or cry, they’re less likely to “make a scene” if they’re in public. 

  • Pick a time

    Don’t confess to your father that you got another speeding ticket as he’s walking out the door for work.  Likewise, don’t tell your mother that you have a drinking problem while she’s furiously multi-tasking and unable to really listen.  You want to make sure that you have plenty of time to talk to your parents and that they aren’t distracted with something else.

  • Watch your moods

    Here’s the basic rule of thumb: don’t try to discuss something when emotions are high.  Find a time when everyone involved is feeling kinda blah and neutral.  Even if you do this, you might notice moods start to elevate as you talk to your parents.  If you can tell that you or your parents are getting angry, it’s okay to take a time-out for a few minutes.  Keep taking time-outs as you need them.

  • Follow Up

    There’s always a chance that they may not know how to respond initially.  If you tell your mom you’re depressed, for example, she might immediately plan to ​call a doctor – or, if she’s unfamiliar with depression, she may need to think about it and research it.  Give your parents time!  Then, plan on a follow-up.  The next day, touch base with your parents and ask them if they have any ideas on how to help you.  There’s a good chance they’ve already been looking for solutions.  If they’re not sure, give them our number, and we can help them brainstorm.  But keep following up!

What If Talking Is Sure to Backfire?

Communication between teenagers and parents can be pretty bad sometimes, so if you’re pretty sure that you won’t get your point across by talking to your parents, there are other methods:

  • Write a letter.  You can be as lengthy as you want, no one can interrupt you, and your parents can re-read it if they need to.  Letters are great because you say everything you need to say and just leave the letter in an obvious place where your mom or dad are sure to find it.

  • Send an email.  It’s pretty much the same as letter-writing, but you can forward important things that might be best viewed electronically.  For example, some of the kids who email us about their concerns can just forward their emails with our responses straight on to their parents.  If there’s information in emails you’ve sent back and forth with friends or relatives, you can forward those straight to your parents, too.

Still anxious?  What about a third party, then?

If you’re still not sure if you can do any of this on your own, you’ve got plenty of adults out there who are willing to help you.  You just have to seek them out and ask.

  • Boys Town can help you.  Like we said earlier, you can email us and forward our responses on to your parents or print them out and hand it to them.  Your concerns will be there in your emails, and professional advice will be there in our responses.  You can also ask us to talk to your parents on the phone.  We can talk to both of you on the phone if you’d like.  Just call us up and ask.

  • School counselors or administrators are trained to help you, just like we are.  They are often willing to call your parents for you or with you, and they can sometimes even set up meetings so that you and your parents can all talk together at the counseling office.

  • Relatives can help you.  Think about any adult siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, or grandparents that you have. Sometimes it’s easier to explain things to Grandma, and Grandma often isn’t afraid to talk to your parents.

  • Teachers, coaches, neighbors, and clergy can help you, too.  Any trustworthy, responsible adult will be able to help point you in the right direction, and they’re often more than happy to talk to your parents.


Nine times out of ten, your parents want to know and want to help if you’re in the midst of a serious crisis.  Ask yourself if it’s worth it to continue struggling on your own or to muster up some courage and get the help you deserve.​


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