Talking to your teenagers

As teenagers go through developmental changes, they often feel like no one understands them, especially their parents. Parents meanwhile may find it hard to adjust to their teenagers not speaking to them.

Parents and teens often disagree on many issues including choice of friends, dating, school grades, spending time with the family and so on. Dealing with these issues is difficult for both the parent and teenager.

As a father, you want your teenager to make the right decisions, while also becoming more independent and responsible. You also want to keep the communication lines open. It’s better if your teenager is candid with you about what they are doing, thinking and feeling.

If you aren’t already actively engaged with your teenager, there’s still time to get to know them better.


Talking with teenagers – Ways to build a relationship

  • Talk to your teenager. It doesn’t matter what you talk about initially; you just want to get the conversation started. Try to make sure it doesn’t turn into a lecture.
  • Make sure you are listening to your teenager and show respect for their opinions. They want to know that their thoughts are valued.
  • Try not to judge. Put yourself in their shoes, remember, you were once a teenager too.
  • Don’t try to talk to them like one of their friends, just be yourself.
  • Pay attention to their body language. If they are saying they are fine, but they are teary or can’t look you in the eye, tell them you are there for them when they want to talk.
  • Schedule in some regular father-teenager time, even if it is simply watching your favourite TV show once a week, it lets them know you want to spend time with them.
  • Take advantage of any opportunities to start a conversation. This can be in the car on the way home or in the kitchen. Don’t miss a chance to talk to your teenager. Over time you will begin to figure out when your teenager likes to talk to you.

Teenagers probably chat to their friends much more than they talk to their parents, so they may also find it difficult to initiate and hold a conversation with you. Just remember that it is never too late to start a conversation. If you need advice on talking to your teens, our MensLine Australia counsellors can help. Call us on 1300 78 99 78, anywhere anytime.

Please note that these tips assume you have at least some contact with your children. We recognise that is unfortunately not the case for everyone.


MensLine Australia has professional counsellors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing confidential and anonymous information and support for all father and parenting issues.

Call us on 1300 78 99 78 or access online counselling.