How to talk freely with your parents

Priya asks: I’m not able to talk to my parents freely. What should I do?

Hi Priya –


Thanks for your question about not being able to talk to your parents freely.


The tough question here is whether it’s because they are impossible to communicate with, or because you’re unwilling or scared to try.  Either – or both – is possible.


I’m going to guess that it’s a bit of both, which is what I usually see in families.  If that’s the case, you need to do two things.  First, you need to do whatever you can to help them improve communication with you.  That probably means that they need to develop a trust that you can have a mature conversation with them, about a difficult subject.  And the only way you can prove that is to do it:  Go to them with a subject that is slightly difficult, and sit down and talk openly about it.  Let’s say, for example, that you have no interest in drugs, but some of your classmates are starting to use some.  That would be a great subject – you could talk about your concerns about their health, about possible legal problems, about how your parents think you should behave around those classmates – all without you getting into any real difficulties with them.  And if you do that sort of talk a few times, you should be able to get them to a place where they can handle more difficult subjects with you.


But what about when they can’t?  What about those subjects where you just absolutely cannot talk with them?


Well, I have a few suggestions then.  First, of course is… ME!  That’s what I’m here for!  Ask me anything!  But also, you have your friends, you have teachers, maybe there’s a counselor at your school.  But if that’s not enough, I’m a huge fan of finding a therapist.  Those are people whose job it is to be there for you with any subject, and they’re great at keeping secrets.  They usually have good ideas to help you out, but mainly they’re great at working through the pain or fear or sadness or anger, that get in your way.


Parents are not the whole world.  And you do need more than they can offer, no matter how good they are.  So again, I’m all for you reaching out to all sorts of people (or dogs).  But at the same time, try to get better talks going with your parents.  No one else can ever know or love you in exactly the way they do.


Good Luck!





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