Having the Tough Conversation

tough conversation

Having the tough conversation with your kid on how they have broken your trust and disappointed you filling you with anxiety? Don’t have any clue on where to start other than to put a boot in their butt or cry worn-out mama?

You aren’t alone because all kids make bad decisions just like you probably did yourself.

We can’t stop all of the awful scenarios from happening no matter how hard we try. We can react a certain way that makes them want to tell us what happened in the future instead of hiding from you.

Read-on for some tips to have the tough conversation and come out better connected in the end!

What are some tough conversation topics?

Tweens and teens have the opportunity to get into some scary decision making that can lead to super uncomfortable conversations.

  • car choices
    • speeding ticket
    • driving under the influence
    • driving while texting
  • phone or electronic device choices
    • surfing porn
    • sneaking social media accounts
    • online relationship including meeting them in person
  • alcohol and drug choices
  • sexual relationship choices
  • body choices
    • tattoo too young
    • piercing too young

Why can’t we prevent bad choices from happening?

As adults, our brains have had a long time to bake. We are capable of looking at a scenario and having the luxury of quick-firing processes in our brain to help us to make educated decisions, not fully based on how we feel.

Our tweens and teens don’t have that ability yet. They’re brain make-up is actually working against them on the whole “making good decisions” thing. If you want to read more on the science that explains this, checkout “What’s the difference between teenage brains and adult brains?” over on Science ABC.

So, the cards are stacked against them and there is going to be some really dumb decision they end up making that you are going to learn about. You’re still a good mom and they’re still a good kid.

touch conversation

I’ve found out about their bad choices. Now what?

First, how did you find out about what they did? That’s going to determine your next steps.

My kid came clean and told me.

You’re going to take a nice deep breath and only focus on the fact that they are being honest with you. Easier said than done when you want to say and do a million other things that don’t include praising them.

It’s important to try and just focus on the honesty in the moment because…

  • It’s a huge deal that they aren’t trying to hide something from you
  • If you flip the F out, they won’t ever go this route again
  • Avoiding telling you things in the future might mean they make decisions that bring harm to them

Tell them that you are thankful for the honesty and say you aren’t ready to have the tough conversation yet.

I caught them.

If they don’t know you know yet, say nothing. You are in a super hyped-up place when you find out. Having a conversation in that moment helps nobody.

If they know you know, say you are disappointed that they didn’t come to you and tell you what happened. Then go the route of shutting up about it and saying you need to talk later.

tough conversation

I’m so ready to light them up or cry in my bed. What do I do now?

You’re going through the grieving process and you just have to let it happen. You had expectations for your child that have now been seriously altered.

  • cry
  • scream
  • journal
  • talk with your partner
  • binge watch a show

Whatever you do, process the emotions and let them all out. Keep the grief away from your kid in those moments if you can. You can give them a summary of what you went through in your talk later.

I’ve calmed down and I’m thinking clearly. Time to talk?

Now, it’s time to come up with a plan of what you want to say and not just see where the conversation takes you. Outline your points!

  • Thank them for being honest or express your disappointment that they lied again
  • Tell them that you are always there to help them, no matter what has happened
  • Let them know you will always love them
  • Ask them why they chose to make the decision that they did
  • Express how you are grieving over their choice because you wanted different things for them
  • Summarize that they have many choices to make in their lives and that you hope this one has helped them learn about the consequences that can follow
  • Lay out the consequence you have picked for this particular choice and try to make it match the crime (car related = only use to get to school, device related = no devices for a period of time, etc.)
tough conversation

You’ve prepped and you’re ready for the tough conversation followed by a hug and telling them that you love them no matter what. You got this worn-out mama!

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  1. Judi Hammes

    Excellent article! Thank you for sharing. Remembering to take a breath and not fly off the handle is where I struggle sometimes. I have told Elaina that I need space to calm down so we both dont say things we didn’t mean.

    1. jkessinger

      Love that you already have a phrase you use to help you remember. Sometimes it’s hard to stick to it when they want to get the punishment over right away and not wait!


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