A 15-Year-Old Girl Won't Talk To Her Parents About Her Social Or Academic Life. How Does A Parent Get Her To Open Up?

Steven Schlozman, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital

Question: A 15-year-old girl will never say anything to her parents about her social or academic life. How does a parent get her to open up? Should a parent get an expert to open her up?

Answer: Great question. One of the hardest things for parents of adolescents is tolerating that adolescent's desire to pull away from the parents and adolescents will do this in varying degrees. So I'll often hear stories from parents who will come in saying, "Becky won't talk to me at all, but my friend's daughter talks every day". And those kids happen to be wired differently and we have to help parents appreciate the differences in wiring among their children.

I don't think it's going to be all that helpful to bring them to an expert to get her to open up unless there are things going on in your child's life that make you worry that on multiple fronts she's not doing well. So if she's academically not performing well, if she doesn't have friends, if she's spending long periods of time in her room and not talking to anybody, then you're going to want to try to understand what's going on and you might have to then take her to an expert. But the simple act of pulling away is part of normal adolescent development and helping parents to appreciate that is actually a big part of my job.

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