How to Have Meaningful Conversations with Your Teenagers Before They Leave Home

Just One More Thing… Before You Leave Home was written to be a tool to open up conversations between you and your child who will soon be leaving to go to college or out into the world. It’s something we did with each of our three kids during their senior years in high school. I would take each of them out to a late Saturday breakfast and we’d discuss one topic each time over pancakes.

Take Time for Meaningful Conversations
Take Time for Meaningful Conversations

If it would work for you to go through Just One More Thing with your son or daughter in a similar way sometime during their junior and senior years in high school, here are some things to keep in mind. They are also helpful principles to keep in mind any time you want to talk to your teenager about something important.

  • Please make sure you don’t turn it into a series of lectures. Use this as an opportunity to simply have conversations with your child about the topics. And conversations involve not only talking but also listening.
  • Try to do it in a setting that will be fun for them. For our kids it was breakfast out with dad on Saturday mornings. Figure out what would interest your child and then yes, bribing with free food is allowed. 
  • And on the same note – don’t make them get up at 7am on Saturday to go have breakfast with you. Figure out a time that works for them. Our Saturday breakfasts were actually more of a brunch. Saturday mornings without early soccer games were sleep-in days at our house!
  • As you discuss each topic, be honest with them about what it was like for you in that area when you first left home. What things weren’t you prepared for? What mistakes did you make? What things do you wish you had known then? What life lessons did you learn quickly after you left home?
  • Don’t feel like you have to make sure they get it all right now, or even that they agree with you on everything. Remind yourself that though life will be different after they leave home, your relationship will continue on in a new and exciting way. This isn’t your last chance to influence their lives. It’s just another opportunity.
  • And also, remember that God knew what He was doing when He put your child into your family. None of us are perfect parents. And most of us have tried our best to prepare our kids for life. Now it’s time to trust God to continue leading your son or daughter in the direction He has planned for them. Never forget that He loves them even more than you do!

Related Post: One of The Best Things We Did Before Our Kids Left Home

But What if They Don’t Really Want to Talk?

The fact is, not every teenage son or daughter will be excited about sitting down and having conversations with their parents. Even a pancake breakfast bribe won’t motivate them. For whatever reason, it just might not work with your child.

But there are still things you as a parent want to make sure they remember before they leave home for college or life out in the world. So what do you do then?

  • Don’t force them. It won’t accomplish what you want to accomplish if it turns into you lecturing and them sullenly sitting there not really listening.
  • You can simply give them the book and let them know it’s filled with short chapters of practical information that can help them prepare for living life on their own at college or out in the world. Then pray that they will be open to reading it, even if it’s not until they’re out on their own and realize they need the help!
  • If there is another adult in their life that they relate well to – maybe a youth pastor, relative, or family friend – you could pass the book along to them and ask them if they would be interested in meeting occasionally with your child to talk about some of the issues that the book covers.

However it works for you, it’s our hope that Just One More Thing… Before You Leave Home will help you prepare your kids to move out into the world on their own.

by Dave Gudgel