15 Powerful Conversations to Have with Your Teen Daughter

We can't always protect our daughters, but we can prepare them...

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 15 Powerful Conversations to Have with Your Teen Daughter

Written by: Kari Kampakis

A group of teenage girls on a Christian retreat were taken to a mountaintop and told to listen to their fathers. One at a time, they were blindfolded and told what steps to take. Since cliffs were nearby, they had to walk slowly and deliberately.

Each blindfolded girl was told to listen to her dad. Her dad was instructed to speak softer and softer until his voice became a whisper. Meanwhile, the girls watching were told to gradually get louder and louder to drown out the father’s voice. After several steps, each blindfolded girl started to panic asking, “Daddy, where do I go? I can’t hear you!” because the noise was too loud.

As her peers screamed louder, her father’s voice was lost.

For teenagers who constantly get bombarded by outside voices, tuning in to God’s quiet whispers can make a huge difference in where they end up. It can protect them and steer them away from nearby cliffs.

Our girl’s teen years are a time of dangerous new territory. Unlike us, our daughters haven’t lived long enough to see tragedies and they don’t know what can happen from a seemingly harmless choice. 

We can’t always save or protect our girls, but we can prepare them for treacherous terrain. Here are 15 powerful conversations to have with your teen daughter to get you started.

15 Powerful Conversations to Have with Your Teen Daughter


1. Talk About the Toxic Culture That’s Shaping Them

Let your daughter know you’re on her side. When you hear about her peers making poor choices, empathize with her position. Acknowledge the difficulty of standing strong.

You may say, “The social scene is so much tougher than what I faced at your age. My priorities are your safety and honesty. Be honest, even if you mess up. I need to know the truth to help you. Please, don’t ever hesitate to call me out of fear of getting in trouble. Even if I’m upset, I’ll get over it if you’re safe. What I’d never get over is losing you, so value your life as much as I do.”

2. Talk About Five-Second Decisions

A mom was at the lake with her daughter and her daughter’s friends when two 16-year-old boys pulled up on a boat and invited the girls to ride. The mom had to quickly decide whether to let them go or not. Since she wasn’t sure about the boys’ boating skills or if they’d been drinking, she said no. It wasn’t worth the risk.

Parents and teens alike face “five-second decisions” all the time. For your daughter, the decision could involve peer pressure to drink at a party or participate in a prank. Tell your daughter to trust her gut and err on the side of safety. Talk about exit strategies and using you as an excuse if need be to get out of a tight spot.

3. Talk About Choices and Consequences

Every choice has a consequence, and it takes a thousand good choices for your daughter to get where she wants to be. Allowing your daughter to face the consequences of poor decisions prepares her for reality. Getting detention because she got smart with a teacher may keep her from mouthing off to her boss one day. Taking away her phone because she lied about a text may teach her to be honest.

Your daughter will reap what she sows. Help her to learn that positive choices = a positive life.

4. Talk About Her Conscience and Living by a Moral Code

Your daughter should know that her conscience is a gift. Without it, she’d never feel guilt or remorse.

The authors of Parenting Teens with Love and Logic write, “Children who are parented well gradually develop an internal voice that says, ‘I wonder how my next decision is going to affect me and those around me?’ This voice comes from having made bad decisions and living with the consequences while experiencing the love and empathy of their parents. This voice is far more important than all the external controls parents can think up.”

5. Talk About Setting Standards, Especially with the Opposite Sex

Your daughter should hear this: “You and every girl you know are better than the lifestyle this world pushes on girls. Set a high bar for yourself and know the best guys will rise to the challenge.” Too often girls use their sexuality to compete for male attention and end up feeling used, broken, or damaged.

Meanwhile, the world tells boys that sexual conquest makes them a “man.” Especially in their teen years, they get applauded for objectifying girls. This mindset is toxic, yet it is reality, and your daughter needs to be aware. Encourage your daughter to make choices she can be truly proud of.

6. Talk About Joy

An ACT coach told me, “I tell my students they need two things in life: a job and a hobby. If their hobby becomes their job, they need a new hobby.”

In a world where every activity has a purpose – and career planning begins in childhood – teenagers need hobbies they enjoy for fun. Whether they’re gifted or accomplished doesn’t matter because the joy they get from painting, singing, acting, dancing, writing, building, playing intramural sports, or pursuing a passion makes their heart sing. Life is simply too short not to play and experience joy.

7. Talk About High Expectations (and Failure)

Carol Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers on motivation and growth mindset says, “Great teachers set high standards for all their students, not just the ones who are already achieving.” Great parents set high expectations, too. They also create a culture of grace and restoration.

As my daughter’s history teacher once told his class, we can’t give teenagers high expectations and not share stories of failure. Too many teens are scared to fail because the world expects perfection.

Since this is the time for your daughter to take healthy risks, face her fears, bounce back, and gain confidence by doing what feels impossible, tell your daughter stories of your failures – about a time you failed to be a good friend . . . lost your temper . . . told a lie . . . hurt someone . . . made a poor choice . . .  wrongly accused someone . . . or fell flat on your face. Make sure she knows that our worst failures are our best teachers.

8. Talk About Hard Topics

Your daughter will hear and see things sooner than you think. Due to technology, kids are growing up faster, and parents who think they’re protecting their kids by not addressing hard realities often have kids who don’t tell them what’s really happening in their lives.

Talk to your daughter about sex, pornography, sexual assault, sexuality, nude pictures, sex trafficking, body changes, STDs, the hook-up culture, and other nitty-gritty topics. Share real-life stories with her and explain to her why it’s imperative to keep her radar up. Use news stories as a launching pad for conversations about character, good judgment, and learning from people’s mistakes.

Help your daughter understand that she needs an ultimate source of truth. Rather than a Google search, what many of your daughter’s questions call for is a God search.

9. Talk About Self-Awareness

We all have vulnerabilities and blind spots, so what are your daughters’? What people or situations entice her to cave? What tempts her to do what she swore she wouldn’t do?

Sharing stories from your life will help your daughter examine her life. You may admit how you used to be bossy, and how it kept you from making friends until you realized how off-putting your bossiness could be. You may tell her about the weekend you spent with some gossipy moms, how you gossiped like crazy to fit in, and only as you drove home did you feel sick to your stomach and realized the need to avoid this group in the future.

It is a personal call on how openly you share with your daughter. Share small examples and go from there, knowing that real-life stories drive the lesson home.

10. Talk About Saying “No”

What starts many girls down the wrong path is the inability to say no. Pediatrician and author, Dr. Meg Meeker, says, “Parents often tell me, ‘My daughter is a really good kid. She knows right from wrong and that drinking is trouble. If she were at a party, I have no doubt she would do the right thing.’

But I see really good kids all the time who got in trouble because they didn’t know how to say no. Their parents hadn’t prepared them for real-life situations they might face and falsely assumed their child would make a mature decision. It’s important for your daughter to know she always has a choice and that having the ability to say “No” could save her life.

11. Talk About Mental Health

You know your daughter’s strengths, limitations, and daily obstacles. Maybe she has a learning disability and struggles to get Bs. Maybe she gets recommended for every advanced class, but she has to stay up until two a.m. to get it all done. Maybe she plays a competitive sport, and when she gets home at nine p.m. exhausted, she still has four hours of homework.

Train your daughter to protect her mental health. What’s right for her friend may not be right for her, and if she feels consumed by stress – exhausted, overwhelmed, isolated from friends and normal teenage life – it’s time for a change.

12. Talk About Self-Image, Self-Love, and Being Kind to Her Body

Of all the conversations to have with your teen daughter, this one is perhaps one of the most important. Our society worships perfection, and the prettier and skinnier a girl gets, the more praise and attention she receives. What logically follows is a quest for perfection that keeps many girls seeking applause in areas dangerous to their health.

Your daughter gets bombarded with unrealistic images and ideals. Even if you say the right things at home, she’ll hear the wrong messages from the world. How can you help? By discussing healthy self-love. Reminding your daughter that nothing about her is a mistake. Your daughter only gets one body in life, so encourage her to take care of it. Help her build healthy habits with food, exercise, and lifestyle choices that she’ll carry into adulthood.

Like many girl moms, I worry about eating disorders (95 percent of people with eating disorders are between the ages of twelve and twenty-five), and I talk to my girls about the warning signs of heading in that direction.

Most moms have heard of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating, but be aware of a new eating disorder called orthorexia that’s evolved with the clean food movement. What begins as an effort to eat healthily can send girls down a slippery slope where they slowly cut out entire food groups and develop an unhealthy obsession with “pure” foods. They eliminate processed foods, then meat, then dairy, then carbs, and so on until they get down to ten or fewer foods that they’ll eat. Unlike other eating disorders, orthorexia is rooted in a need to be “healthy” rather than a preoccupation with appearance or losing weight, but the physical consequences are the same: life-threatening.

13. Talk About Being Assertive and Speaking Up for Her Needs

Teach your daughter that it’s possible to be strong and kind, honest and tactful. In a society where people will walk all over other people, (and prey on the weak), every girl should learn how to speak up for herself, tell a friend they hurt her feelings, and let boys down respectfully. If your daughter is naturally strong, she may need help being less abrasive and more sensitive. If your daughter is naturally sensitive – and a people pleaser – she may need assurance that her needs and desires matter, too.

14. Talk About Addiction

If you know an addict – or have seen how an addict’s decisions have altered the trajectory of their life – you wouldn’t wish addiction on anyoneHere are sobering facts from The Teenage Brain:

    • Of the 10.5 million youths who had taken a drink, nearly 7 million admitted to binge drinking, and more than 40 percent of individuals who start drinking before the age of thirteen will develop alcohol abuse problems later in life, according to a report in the Journal of Substance Abuse.
    • The pot teens smoke today is up to seven times more potent than what was available twenty or more years ago.
    • With a still-maturing brain, teens are especially vulnerable to drugs that work directly on the brain’s chemistry . . . nine out of ten addicts say they first used drugs before they were eighteen years of age.

Talk to your daughter about the perils of addiction and keep the lines of communication wide open throughout her teen and young adult years.

15. Talk About Discernment and Spiritual Warfare

A college freshman thought she’d found her dream sorority. Her mother told her to pray that she’d end up where she was supposed to be. Her daughter thought these girls were her people until they invited her out one night and stopped by an apartment – and she saw five girls from this sorority snorting cocaine.

Sometimes trouble is clear, and sometimes it hides behind pretty faces. Your daughter is entering a world of unpredictable situations. Remind her to look beyond what’s shiny or impressive and trust her instincts. When something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t.

Equipping your daughter for the road ahead is no small feat. Empower her to feel prepared, not scared, and help her tune in to her moral compass and God’s teachings for guidance and direction with every step she takes. 

About Kari Kampakis:

Kari Kampakis is an author, speaker, and podcaster from Birmingham, Alabama. Her bestselling books for moms, Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter and More Than a Mom: How Prioritizing Your Wellness Helps You (and Your Family) Thrive, and books for teen girls, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked: Whose Approval Are You Living For, have been used widely across the country for small groups studies.

Kari’s work has been featured on Today show, Today Parents, Focus on the Family, Bethany Hamilton’s ‘Ohana Mother/Daughter Experience, Yahoo! News, Grown & Flown, Thrive Global, Your Teen, For Every Mom, Motherly, FaithGateway, Jesus Calling, Love What Matters, Ann Voskamp’s blog and other national outlets. She also hosts the Girl Mom podcast. Kari and her husband, Harry, have four daughters and a dog named Lola. Join Kari on InstagramFacebookand the Girl Mom podcastor visit karikampakis.com.

If you enjoyed reading, “15 Powerful Conversations to Have with Your Teen Daughter,” you might also enjoy reading:

8 Conversations to Have with Your Daughter Before She Leaves for College

12 Powerful Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body and Stop Being So Critical of Herself

55 Best Quotes for Moms of Teen Daughters

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1 comment

Sophia Bitutu January 7, 2024 - 1:03 am

Very informative, will try to apply all the points


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