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Daughter Won't Talk About What's Bothering Her

"Thanks for allowing me to join Online Parent Support. My question is how can I get my 16 year old daughter to open up about what is going on in her life. When I ask her, I get the same old response 'Nothing'. I can clearly see that something is terribly wrong."

This is normal. Your daughter confided in you when she was young, but those days are gone for now. She will confide in you again when she becomes a mother herself someday.

It sounds like she may be depressed. But again, this is a fairly normal emotion – especially for teenage girls.

Let her know that you’re there for her, fully and unconditionally. Hold back from asking a lot of questions (teenagers don’t like to feel patronized or crowded), but make it clear that you’re ready and willing to provide whatever support she needs.

Don’t give up if she shuts you out at first. Talking about depression can be very tough for teens. Be respectful of your child’s comfort level while still emphasizing your concern and willingness to listen.

Resist any urge to criticize or pass judgment once she begins to talk. The important thing is that your child is communicating. Avoid offering unsolicited advice or ultimatums as well.

Don’t try to talk her out of her depression, even if her feelings or concerns appear silly or irrational to you. Simply acknowledge the pain and sadness she is feeling. If you don’t, she will feel like you don’t take her emotions seriously.

If your daughter claims nothing is wrong, but has no explanation for what is causing the depressed behavior -- and she starts talking about suicide -- you should trust your instincts. Remember that denial is a strong emotion. Furthermore, teenagers may not believe that what they’re experiencing is the result of depression.

If you see depression’s warning signs, seek professional help. Neither you nor your teen is qualified to either diagnosis depression or rule it out, so see a doctor or psychologist who can.


Next post:
During adolescence, teens start to break away from parents and become "their own person." Some talk back, ignore rules and slack off at school. Others may sneak out or break curfew. Still others experiment with alcohol, tobacco or drugs. So how can you tell the difference between normal teen rebellion versus dangerous behavior? And what's the best way for a parent to respond?

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