How to Discuss Hard Topics with Parents

Although talking to friends often comes more naturally, there are some situations in which parents or guardians can shed a brighter light on a tough situation than your peers. Whether you feel that your relationship is strong with your parents or not, they are the ones who care more about your well-being than anyone else. Tough subjects to bring up with parents can include a wide range of topics, anywhere from a speeding ticket to self-harm. Here are 3 steps to help you feel ready to approach a tough subject.


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1. Decide before you begin talking what your goal is.

Knowing ahead of time what you want to get out of your conversation can help you stay calm and prevent the conversation from leading down a different path. You may want specific advice, or you may just want to be listened to without judgement. Either way, being prepared can help you and the adult stick to what will be most beneficial for you.

2. Recognize your feelings and be upfront about them.

More often than not hard subjects are hard because of the emotion behind them. You could be scared, ashamed, or simply embarrassed to talk about certain things with your parents, but the best way to deal with those feelings is to be honest about them. For example, you could say, “I need to talk to you, but I’m afraid I’ll disappoint you.” By letting your parents know how you are feeling, they can be better equipped to help, and you can know that you are being heard.

3. Pick a good time to talk.

Just as being calm yourself can help when approaching a difficult talk, things will go more smoothly if your parent is calm as well. Try to find a time when they are not busy working on something else. If you are unsure, tell them that you need to talk and ask when would be a good time for them.


Overall, thoughtful planning is what will help you the most when discussing something difficult with a parent. By following these steps, you will give you and your parent the best shot at working through it together.


Do you think these are helpful tips? Or do you have more tips for people talking about difficult topics? Tell us about them!

You can also read more about talking to parents in general and about difficult topics at

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