Good question. And a frequent question from parents.

 First of all, I’m not sure. Second, I do have some things you might try. Third, never, ever give up trying. This is one place where settling for less than what you want isn’t an attractive option.

Here are some things to consider, not in any order of preference or sequence:

• Let them know that you would love to have a good conversation with them a couple of times each week to catch up on how life is going for them. If they don’t know what you want, it’s not right to expect them to do it.

• Stop prying or asking so many questions that they feel like you are prying.

• Never, ever repeat what they tell you to any one else without asking for permission. Also, don’t pass on what other people tell you because it signals you might do the same with what they share.

• Listen for the times when they ask you about something, perhaps about your day or work. When this happens, thank them for asking and then tell them about your day for 2 or 3 minutes.

• Whenever they do speak, listen attentively and give them enough feedback so they feel heard. If this means stopping what you are doing and just listening to them, do that.

• If you have a good conversation with them one night, the next day let them know that you appreciated the conversation.

• Spend time doing things with them that they enjoy: watching tv, playing video games, shopping, shooting hoops. Don’t say much and wait for them to start talking.

• When they talk, do not interrupt, ask questions, or change the conversation to your interests.

• Ask “what do you think?” rather than give advice, unless specifically asked for your opinion.

Now I’ll turn it to you. What has worked for you when trying to get your young adult talking? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.



“I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.” ~Harry S. Truman

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Paul Axtell is author of Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids: Creating the relationship you want with the most important people in your life. He and his wife, Cindy, live in Minneapolis and love sharing time and conversations with their 13 grandchildren.