Book Giveaway: When Your Teenager’s Silent

When our kids were little, many of us would have given our left arm for 20 minutes of silence.

When our kids grow to teenagers… we can’t get them to say more than two words to us!

“How was your day.”


“Anything exciting happen?”


“And Soccer? How was soccer?”

“Same as always.”

(Awkward silence)

“Nice talking with you!”

It happens sometime between middle school and high school. Our kids get an influx of hormones, they seem more interested in hanging with friends than with family… and we can’t pry them away from their stupid digital devices! How can we get our teens and tweens to open up… just a little!

Here’s 5 Quick Tips to Get Your Teenagers Talking:

  1. Don’t ask yes or no questions. When we do, we’re asking for a one-word reply. No wonder the conversation is short. But this practice doesn’t always do the trick, so…
  2. Avoid the dull and mundane. Yes, sounds obvious, but consider the conversation above. How many of our kids want to tell you about school and soccer practice? We need to try to be more creative. So try to…
  3. Think 5 minutes ahead. That’s right. Don’t find yourself asking the same boring questions every day. Think of something new and exciting. If you really want to know something about school, ask, “If all of your teachers were going to be fired but one, which one would you want to keep? Why?”
  4. Use Controversy. Teenagers have strong opinions. Toss an issue onto the table and see what they think. You can always find something in the paper. “A kid in a rural town up North went hunting with his dad before school, accidentally leaving his gun on the gun rack in his truck and parking it in the school parking lot. The school expelled him because of a no-tolerance gun policy. How is this fair?”
  5. Hear Them. Don’t just listen… hear! Teenagers have radar for apathy and indifference. If they since that you are not truly hearing them, they’ll abandon the conversation. None of the above tips are worth a dime if we don’t truly listen to the felt needs behind what they’re saying.

For even more tips on building relationships with your teenagers, including questions that get teenagers talking, get Jonathan’s new parenting book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent.

We’re giving a copy of Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent away! Just leave a comment for your chance to win! I’ll randomly pick a winner on July 20th, and post it at the bottom of this blog post!


More Fun Parenting Articles From Jonathan:

Using YouTube to Get Your Teenagers Talking

3 Costly Teenage Risky Behaviors

Dads and Junior Proms

Find Out More About Booking Jonathan for a Parenting Workshop in Your City!

God and The Walking Dead
Slutty Isn’t Offensive, But Skinny Is
How to Avoid Killing Your Arguing Teen
When Teens Are Addicted to Screens
  • Jon Forrest

    I follow Jonathan in every outlet I can find him (even the mall) and I’ve noticed that he has a knack for asking great questions. It sounds simple but asking good questions is the most difficult thing in the world. It takes forethought. This is great advice. If your a beginner questionerre like me try starting by saying, “hey Zack, I wonder …..”. It’s the miricle phrase.


    Not only does this apply to parents, but youth workers can & should use these “tactics” when dealing with the teens & tweens in their youth groups. Great ideas here.

  • Tricia

    Agreed 100% – Our questions can make or break our conversations!

  • Nancy French

    I have a 13 year old so this sounds great!

  • Jason

    My children are still small, but I am a teen pastor. That is great advice! I find myself in too many awkward silences!

  • Michael

    I have 2 sons that are years away from being teens however I find this type of article very helpful in (hopefully) preparing me for the days ahead while also forcing me to evaluate where I am at currently in my relationship with each one of them. Being a parent is such a special opportunity and I appreciate anything that I can find that helps me to move past the busy noise that every day has and focus on what I really value and what really matters to me.


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  • Beth

    I would love a copy of this book because there are times I swear my 14 year old daughter looks at
    me like I am from another planet. Right now I can really use some useful tips on communicating
    with her. :)

  • Stephanie Griggs

    This ‘Imperfect Parent” would love to win a copy of your book to help me improve my relationship with my 13 year old daughter and get ahead of the game with my other 2 daughters, now ages 11 and 8. I know I will have my hands full for the next 10 years or so especially since my youngest daughter faces some serious and life threatening medical issues that put an additional strain on all of our family relationships.

  • Kim M.

    I have a teenage son and I’m a single mother with a disability! I need this book!!!

  • Marion Kaminski

    We raised two sons and now work with disadvantaged youth in our small community. This sounds like a good book for us to have!

  • Kathryn

    I’m having a hard time trying to get information out of my 6yr old, so creative questions always help. Can’t imagine what she will be like as a tween/teenager. Need all the help I can get :)

  • Jill Battles

    Wow! This could not be more perfect. I have a 16 year old daughter and I feel like I have to walk on egg shells to keep her from clamming up. EVERYTHING that is considered “parenting” sets her off. I have been a parent for 25 years (two older boys) and I am beyond exhausted. She is about to wear me down. She spoke to me in one word answers for 6 days one time when she was mad! This book may give me some renewed gumption to hang in there!

  • Didi

    Yes!! Definitely needed today! :)

  • Trina

    It sounds like a great book to read having a pre-teen in the house. It might be good to get a jump on the subject:-)

  • Casey Tatum

    Great tips! I would love to win a copy of the book.

  • Tammy

    So need this book! Have 13 and 15 yr old boys now. It is especially hard to get the 13 yr old to have any conversation (well,unless he needs/wants something). We used to really talk but now there is no such thing! Even when I am not talking to him but he is around, he looks at me like I am so stupid. He went a whole day before without talking to either my husband or myself because he had disciplined him by taking away his electronics – I wasn’t even home when it all took place! He is a hard case. Need all the help we can get.

  • jonathanmckee

    Thanks Tammy. I know it can be tough to break through a 13-year-old boy’s shell. I think the tips above will help. Also really try to just “notice” his interests. As you find things he likes to do, then you can springboard off of those. For example… if he can’t get enough violent video games, come into the room sometime when he’s playing and just watch what he’s playing for a while and ask questions (not in judgement, but in true interest). Surprise him and ask, “Is there a two-player mode for this? Teach me to play.” Sometimes it really helps when we enter their world like that. Hope that helps just a bit.

  • jonathanmckee

    Yeah, 16-year-old daughters really have a PhD in one-word answers. Try tips 1-3 above, specifically. They should really help. Also try what I just advised Tammy in these same comments- I told her to really try to “notice” her son’s interests. Same principle, but with your girl. Next time you’re at the mall with here, notice what stores she likes, notice what clothes she wants. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t want you to try to “buy” your daughter’s attention, but if you notice that she really likes shopping at Pac Sun, surprise her some day after school and say, “Pac Sun is having a sale on jeans… wanna go? Then let’s get a Jamba afterwards.” Find those “dates” with your daughter that she might actually enjoy and begin to open up those pathways to conversation. Hope that helps just a bit.

  • jonathanmckee

    Ha… I hear ya! I’ve seen that look!

  • Jamie Martin

    I need this book; I think I’d be able to use it to my advantage!

  • Chantal

    I just discovered your website! I have a 15 y.o. daughter who, even if she is not silent, has started to hide things – sinful behavior. She made a confession to me recently (over the phone), and that hit really hard. What else is she hiding? Yet, she had the courage to tell me THAT big thing. I pray that there is always a channel of communication between me and her. Some practical tips would be helpful! I’d love to receive the book!

  • Jeff Wright

    Sounds like a book I could use!

  • jonathanmckee

    This is a great sign of trust when she opens up to you like this. Try to keep that momentum by making yourself available to listen empathetically (I don’t think that’s a word, but it sounds good), and making her feel “heard.”

  • Yuna Katz

    Oh this could help me so much with my daily trials and tribulations with my son!

  • karadiaz

    Would love to read!

  • Melissa W.

    Sounds like an interesting book, and one I would like to read!

  • Jennie

    Would love to read this book, as a mother of a 4 year old girl, I am hoping to gain some insight on what to expect the teenage years!

  • Nancee

    Sounds great! Please throw my name in the hat!!

  • Connie Haviland

    I may have raised several children/teens but with remarrying and taking on the role of stepmom, I am raising teens in today’s world. I will take all the great ideas, suggestions and advice I can get…you are never too smart to turn down new things

  • Kelly Raines

    As a mother of two boys… I would LOVE to read this book. It’s nice to be reminded that there is no such thing as a perfect parent and to get advice from those who have been there.

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