Are day-to-day events and aggravations taking over the conversation between you and your teen?

At Christmas time this year, we encourage you to engage more intentionally and deeply with your daughter. In general, it’s important to leave questions open-ended to avoid one-word responses. Based on your teen’s reaction to questions, you can often delve more deeply or go off on an interesting tangent.

Jennifer Kolari, child and family therapist and author of “Connected Parenting,” recently suggested three open-ended questions that will get your teen to open up.

  1. “If you were suddenly given a large sum of money and that money could be donated only to one charity or cause, what would it be and why?”
    By asking this question, you are tapping into your teen’s ideas and passions and creating a wider discussion about what she values or may be learning in school and from society. Use thoughts about charity and philanthropy to start a discussion about gratitude, a relevant topic during the holidays.
  2. “If you could do one thing for the rest of your life that involves your passion — and you would be paid for it, no matter what it is — what would it be?”
    This question will get your teen thinking about her dreams and goals as well as her personal talents and gifts. “The idea is to start a conversation about meaningful work,” Kolari says. Helping to frame “work” in your daughter’s mind as a part of finding meaning and purpose in life, versus clocking in and holding your breath until Saturday, can go a long way in helping to develop your teen’s healthy work ethic and a rewarding career path.
  3. “Millennials are getting a bad rap. What do older adults have to learn and what do you think millennials can teach them?”
    It is important to draw on the gap between generations and make connections between them. What is your child wanting to contribute to the world?

Above all, truly listen to your daughter after asking these questions. Learning how she views herself and society will help to create a strong bond of communication and trust between you. Additionally, remember to keep an open stance with your daughter. As much as possible, you want to create a dynamic where she feels safe and comfortable talking with you about a wide range of subjects, ideas, and emotions.