Q: My eighth grade daughter never talks to me anymore. Is that normal? How do I get her to talk?

A: I met with a group of girls today and asked them these questions. Here are the answers – directly from the mouths of the experts.

Is it normal for eighth-graders to not talk to their parents? Yes!

Why?

  • We are growing up and need to be more independent.
  • If we tell our parents something they might yell at us or ground us.
  • They will not keep it private.
  • We don’t want them to share our conversations with their friends and get the story mixed up.
  • They might not trust us anymore.
  • It is kids’ gossip, and parents should not talk about kids’ gossip.

How should parents talk to their adolescent children?

  • Don’t always ask us questions. Let us come to you.
  • Don’t assume that we will make the same mistakes that you did.
  • Don’t automatically assume the worst
  • Trust our decisions and let us learn by our mistakes
  • When we make mistakes, don’t pass judgment and don’t rub it in.
  • Guide us.
  • Let us grow up.
  • Listen to us without responding in a negative way. Then we don’t want to talk anymore.
  • Don’t compare us to other kids or siblings. We are all different.
  • Have some mother-daughter time, but don’t call it that because that is lame.
  • Do something that we both enjoy, but don’t force it. Let it come naturally.

The common themes that emerge from their statements are to:

  • allow your children to talk to you when they are comfortable;
  • let your children know you are always available;
  • listen without making judgments;
  • keep what your children tell you confidential – do not share it; and
  • make time for your children – they want to talk, but not on command.