Parenting Teens: why won’t my daughter be honest with me?

Parenting teenagers is really hard, especially when they won't talk to you and open up to you.
Well, let's talk about that a little more today on Tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm
a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens and families
to live happier lives. I lead two organizations stations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit
501 c three organization, child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California.
Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's
answer today's. I'm worried about my relationship with my 13 year old daughter. I feel like
she's never really honest with me. I can tell when we talk about stuff. She just tells me what
she thinks I want to hear instead of her true feelings. It seems like she's lacking the self confidence
to say what she really wants. What did I do wrong as a parent to get to this point? And how can I fix
it? Thank you for your question. I want

to address the last part of your question first. What did I do wrong? Every parent asks this question
because all of us as parents, we are imperfect parents. We're all flawed parents. We all make
mistakes. We all have setbacks because we're human and we do. I mean, everyone is imperfect
at everything. And I would say this, that while all of us can improve as parents, we can all take
steps to make improvements, me included, everyone. If we approach that from a place of shame
or panic, we generally don't learn from that experience. It just holds us back. It shackles
us down. And what I would say is those questions are wonderful to ask from a place of empathy for
yourself and your daughter to have some grace, have some understanding, and be open to learning
and improving. It's easy to go to the shame and panicky route. It's very easy to do. But the problem
is, when we do that, not only do we hold ourselves down, but now we put the onus unconsciously
onto our child to improve so we feel better

as parents and teenagers, 13 year olds especially, they're going to be teenagers, they're
not always going to be honest. They're not always going to be open with their emotions because
they don't fully understand what they're thinking feeling anyway. We as adults don't always
understand what we're thinking feeling anyway either. But it's especially hard when you're
teenagers. And what I would encourage you to do is to make sure you're doing your work so you are
settled and accepting your imperfect self, so you can accept her imperfect self as well. And
what can you do about that? Keep reaching out, trying to find ways to connect with her again,
finding activities that she enjoys, where she can really recognize, where you can also communicate
how you enjoy being with her, even if it's challenging, even if it's hard even if you guys are
taking the dog for a walk, you guys aren't saying anything. Can you as a parent just take the time
to enjoy I'm with my daughter. Yeah, she's sullen. Yeah,

she's not saying anything. She's not communicating with me. She's awkward. I'm awkward. But
you know what? I'm with my daughter, and that's something. And I know that's not exactly what
you may want to hear because you want to have that movie relationship with your daughter. And
I'm not saying those don't exist, because they do, but they are rare, and it is normal for your
teenager to start pulling away and not being as honest and not being as open and what I encourage
you, instead of asking her questions because teenagers are hating questions, maybe share
more about yourself. Share more about your life as a teenager, what you're going through. Not
to dump on her, not to put her in a position where she feels like she has to take care of you or solve
your problems, because she's not emotionally capable of doing that. But if you had a tough day
at work, you can talk about your tough day. It's something that you have a control of and you are
on top of. Yeah, it was a tough day at work. This

happened, that happened. But I'm okay. You don't want to put on your daughter that she has to
now solve your problem, take care of you. The more you're open about your life, maybe she starts
opening about her life as well. Sharing activities, walking the dog, doing art, throwing a
ball, cooking. Doesn't matter what you're doing matters that you're doing. And keep offering,
keep being present and open, even when she pushes you away, because at some point, she will recognize
that you're always there, you're always accepting her, even when she pushes you away. And at
some point, whether that's 15, 1722, she will come around and recognize, wow, mom or dad, you're
always there. She just may not have the emotional capacity to do that. She doesn't have the emotional
capacity to fill your need for connection right now, and that's hard to do. So make sure you're
getting your connection filled somewhere else with your spouse, your friends, your therapist,
wherever that is. So if you are fulfilled

yourself, you can be present with her. It's not an easy thing, but I'll go back to the example
of you have your three year old who wants to play cars or your little daughter wants to play Barbies,
and you're really bored playing cars or Barbies, but they love it. So you stay engaged because
they're connected to it, and you keep connecting at their level so they can feel enjoyed by you.
Anyways, if that's not enough, you may want to talk to a therapist, but hopefully we're not in
that place yet. But if you are, find a therapist who specializes in kids and teens and talk to
them and see if they can help support you guys. That's our question for today. My name is Kent
Toussaint with Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen Counseling. This is tips on teens. Join
our Facebook group. Facebook group tips on teens. If you have a question you'd like me to answer,
email us at or direct messages. We love your questions.
Thanks again and I'll see you next Wednesday

on Facebook Live. Bye bye, guys.


Parenting teens can be a challenging journey, particularly when it feels as though your adolescent is closed off or pushing you away. It’s natural for parents to question themselves when this happens. Imperfection is inherent to parenting – we all make mistakes and experience setbacks. Instead of succumbing to shame or panic, approach these challenges with empathy.


eenagers, especially 13-year-olds, may struggle with honesty and self-expression due to their evolving emotions and uncertainties. Sometimes parents need to remind themselves to accept these imperfections. Engaging in activities that allow for shared experiences rather than bombarding your teen with questions or sharing snippets of your own life can encourage reciprocal openness. Even if your teen resists, being present consistently will lay the groundwork for eventual connection. There’s more to say about parenting teens in this situation, and we delve into it in this Tips on Teens:

“I’m worried about my relationship with my 13 year old daughter. I feel like she’s never really honest with me. I can tell when we talk about stuff she just tells me what she thinks I want to hear instead of her true feelings. It seems like she’s lacking the self confidence to say what she really wants. What did I do wrong as a parent to get to this point, and how can I fix it?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.