Keys to Handling Difficult Conversations

Parenting can be a challenge. We are called to address everything from moving to a new house to alcohol and other drug use. And, it is not always easy to know what to say and when to say it to ensure our children’s health and safety. To assist with these difficult conversations, we recommend the following:

• Keep your conversation goal in mind.

• Try to be proactive instead of reactive. In other words, if you anticipate a concern is on the horizon, start conversations now.

• Consider the timing of the conversation. Are there siblings to consider? Should it remain private? When can you talk with the least amount of distractions?

• Focus on increasing your listening skills.

• Find out what your child already knows by asking what they have heard. This works both if they come to you with a question and if you go to them.

• Stay positive, focus on your child’s strengths and show them respect.

• Do not lecture.

• Have a two-way conversation and make it ongoing.

• If your conversation is not going well, do not be afraid to call a mutual timeout or simply tell your child you need to  think things through before finishing your talk.

• Thank your child for having a talk with you!