Here’s a short quiz that can indicate how well you know your young adult. Answer the following questions and then take your young adult to lunch and have them answer them. Compare your answers. Use this as an opportunity to promote understanding and dialogue between you and your young adult.
- What do they like about themselves?
- What do they dislike about themselves?
- What makes them happy?
- What has been the most difficult challenge they have faced in growing up?
- What have been their greatest achievements in growing up?
- What have been their biggest disappointments in growing up?
- What do they like most about their life now?
- What are two or three of the most difficult challenges they face now?
- What two or three actions can you take, as their parent, to help them with these challenges?
- What are one or two things have they appreciated about me as a parent?
Here are some suggestions on how to approach and engage your young adult with these questions.
Introducing the Subject
Introduce the subject by indicating that you saw this quiz on the internet and tried to answer the questions. You may want to say the following:
The questions are about my young adult, and I tried to answer these in the way I thought you might. I’d like to take you to lunch or breakfast and ask you these questions to see if our answers are similar. For me, it can be a way to get to know you better and understand what is important to you. You would clearly have the right to ask me any of these questions as well.
Reassure your young adult that you will listen for understanding and not to judge or criticize. You will check to be sure you are hearing and understanding your young adult correctly. You may hear the words, but you need to check to be sure of the meaning of these words to the young adult. Reinforce getting out of the house as a way to have a more adult to adult conversation. Whether intended or not, it’s hard to shake the parent-child dynamic when in the home.
Suggestions for Approaching Your Young Adult
If you are experiencing resistance, here are some suggestions. First, print out the questions and give these to the young adult, so they have time to think about their answers. Indicate they should just answer the questions in the first person. Second, if they refuse to meet for any reason, ask if you could email them the questions and have them respond, and then you will email how you answered the items. After this exchange, you may try again to ask for a time to discuss similar and dissimilar answers. One parent whose teenager would offer nothing more than an infrequent grunt during his senior year in high school, found when he went to college he was much more communicative and self-disclosing via email exchanges. Don’t make this a power struggle over the vehicle of communication. Indicate you would really like to hear their answers, however they want to communicate these.
If and when you meet, take your answers along, and after your young adult answers the question, give your answer. You can reverse this process or switch with each item if desired. Discuss how accurate you were in predicting your young adult’s responses. Explore what may be contributing to your answers being dissimilar to your young adults. Ask for clarification on how they came up with their answer and offer to explain how you came up with yours. Express appreciation for a new understanding of them. Afterward, thank them for their time and ask them if they would like to meet again with some further questions or just to check-in.