If you have a teen, starting the conversation is half the battle.
Often, when the topic of “connecting conversations” comes up, adoptive parents will remark, “Conversation?! He doesn’t even say two words to me!”
So, how do you start the conversation?
One of the first tips that I suggest adoptive parents is to not ask questions.
When we ask questions, adopted teens can feel pressured, spotlighted, judged and misunderstood.
But, there are other alternatives!
- I was just thinking about you!
- I was trying to figure out what you meant when you said…
- I would imagine that it’s hard to…
- I wondered how it went today!
- “I didn’t know if you…”
- “I wasn’t sure if you were still upset about what happened yesterday.”
These are helpful starters to try when you’re trying to get answers or information.
But, if you’d like to invite them to share something regarding their emotional experience, sharing with them about your own experience might pave the way. I’m not suggesting that you bare your soul, more that you share something general about the topic that’s on your mind.
For example, not all but many adoptees think about their birth mother or parent on their birthday. Not surprising, I guess! But, instead of asking, “Are you thinking about your birth parent today?” you could say, “You know, on your birthday, I often think about your birth parent!” Your chances are higher that they’ll respond, and even when they don’t, it’ll pave the way for discussions down the road.