I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Lundbeck to write about depression in college-aged students. All opinions are my own.
Raising teenagers can be like walking a tight rope. When learning how to talk to teens, we have to keep a balance of light and love.
One thing I’ve noticed is that our teens tend to want to open up a little more during the holidays.
Maybe it’s because they are reminiscing over past holidays, and feel more inclined to spend time with us. Maybe it’s because it more of a chill time for them. Who knows. The key is for us to take full advantage of this time.
As our kids take their holiday breaks, this gives us way more time with them, and more opportunities to tackle tough subjects.
Our kiddos coming come from boarding school or college really need these talks with us, since we haven’t spent as much time with them over the past few months. Here are some simple ways to talk to your teens during the holiday season.
Casual Holiday Shopping
This may be a crapshoot, but ask your teen if they will accompany you to shop for Thanksgiving ingredients, or gifts for other family members (or their siblings).
Use this time to listen. While you ask them for their input on what dessert you should serve this year, listen to any inklings of stress they are having at school. Teens tend to open up when they can use their feelings as a secondary part to a conversation.
Admit You’re Uncool
OK, don’t get upset with me! We all know that our kids look at us as goofy, funny, and sometimes uncool parents. Some of us have kids who think we’re cool all the time, and we applaud you unicorns.
For the rest of us, admitting that uncool factor breaks down walls. Our kids find it endearing, and if they love us enough, they’ll share what “cool” things the kids are doing right now. Again, this gives us a chance to turn this fun conversation into a more thoughtful interaction.
Want to get your kids laughing at you, and possibly showing you something cool that they love? Ask them “what the heck is a TikTok?” Ask it just like that. Watch their reaction. You’re welcome.
Open Up About Mental Health
Mental health can be such a heavy subject, but we have to be able to create an environment where our teens and college kids no longer see it as a stigma.
One of the reasons I was excited to work with Med-IQ to open the conversation about college depression is to ensure parents are able to create a safe space for their kids to express any mental stressors they deal with daily.
The holidays can be a great time to discuss what is an everyday problem versus what is a mental health issue, and the possibility of seeking additional help and support. An every day problem, like fighting with a roommate or doing poorly on exams, is a part of transitioning into adulthood.
But if there are everyday obstacles that cause mental stress, we want to encourage our kids to open up to us about it, or use resources on campus to seek help.
Over the holiday season, be sure have these conversations with your kids. Break down the walls, then gently talk with them about this important topic.
How To Talk To Teens – Helpful Resources For Parents
If you’re still unsure how to start this conversation with your college aged kids, we have some resources for you. But first, a disclaimer:
Links to external sites are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They are not intended and should not be construed as legal or medical advice, nor are they endorsements of any organization. Med-IQ bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of any external site. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. Starting the Conversation: College and Your Mental Health: https://www.nami.org/
Want to learn how to discuss the ‘transition’ from HS to college? Check out this website: https://www.settogo.org/
There’s also a survey parents can fill out to help Med-IQ provide even more resources for us to use in the future.
Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with depression and mental health in your college-aged child, which will help us develop future educational initiatives.
Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will not be sold, kept, or stored; email addresses are used only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.
I hope these tips will help you learn how to talk to teens this holiday season, whether they are your kids or other teens in your life. As they transition into adulthood, these moments will become even more important. We’ll be there for them, always.