Ask a Therapist: Talking to your Teen with Richard Kneip

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Do you feel like your teen is a complete stranger? Do you think your son or daughter might be suffering from depression and are wondering what you can do to help them? Do you suspect your teen is abusing drugs or alcohol? Do you need some tips on how to effectively communicate with your teen? If so, join Richard Kneip, PhD, as he answers your questions about talking to your teen.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome everyone! Today?s guest is Richard Kneip, PhD. He will be answering your questions about talking to your teen.

darkerday asks: After a recent divorce, how can I help my 12-year-old son with his uncomfortable feelings around his cheating mother?

Richard Kneip, PhD: I would wonder why your son is so uncomfortable. Your ex-wife?s infidelity, no doubt, was very difficult and destructive for the marriage but is certainly not something a 12-year-old needs to know much about. Since he already knows, I think it would be very important that you and his mother focus on helping him to see that the two of you will be able to cooperate and put hurt feelings aside in the best interest of the children. Of course, how your son deals with his feelings about his mother will depend mostly upon his relationship with his mother. The two of them will have to work out any feelings of anger he may have towards her, but that is something only they can do together.

lara5842 asks: I have a son who is gay and he has lots of mates. How can I tell him I am scared he might catch some kind of infection or AIDS?

Richard Kneip, PhD: The best approach for you would be to be as open and honest as possible. If your son's lifestyle makes you uncomfortable, it may be difficult for you, but I'm sure he will appreciate your sincere expression of love and concern for his well-being. With all of the information that is available on AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, it would be surprising if he were not already aware of the risks and necessary precautions. Nonetheless, fostering an open dialogue with your son will help him to know that you accept him and will allow him to use you as a support.

claytune asks: My 15-year-old daughter admits some casual drug use. Should I have her tested?

Richard Kneip, PhD: Naturally, casual drug use among teens is common, although recent data suggests that first time drug use amongst teens has declined in recent years. Parents should be very concerned when they learn of drug use in their teenagers, but also must be careful not to overreact and precipitate a crisis or unnecessary damage to the relationship. Testing can be a very effective means of monitoring drug use in teenagers, but the resentment about not being trusted that it creates in the teenager might be counterproductive in some circumstances. If your daughter is functioning well (performing up to her potential in school, engaging in extracurricular activities, maintaining a positive peer group) and is giving you little reason to doubt her sincerity about discontinuing her drug use, then it might be wise to hold off until she gives you a reason to initiate testing. If, on the other hand, she insists that she will continue to experiment with drugs or is showing other signs of drug use, then regular testing with clear-cut consequences for a positive drug test probably would be the best way to go. You can find lots of information about adolescence, as well as drug and alcohol abuse and dependence at

BayBeeG123456 asks: My daughter and I always seem to get into fights over nothing and she tells me she hates me and wants to live with a relative. What should I do?

Richard Kneip, PhD: You must get to the root of why your discussions with your daughter end up in fights. My guess would be that you both feel that your viewpoints are not being heard or respected. Teenagers or parents can accept disagreements with each other as long as they believe that their viewpoint is at least being given respectful consideration. I suggest you check out "the top 10 ways to keep peace with your teen" link in the adolescence section at Be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you are following the tips presented there. If you feel that more intensive intervention might be required, some counseling with a therapist skilled in managing parent-teen conflict might be useful.

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