Conversation Starters for Inspiring Hope


We want to inspire hope in our youth. Hope includes having a sense of agency while discovering and navigating the various pathways of a full and meaningful life. Adolescents are right in the thick of discovering what’s important to them and what kind of person they want to be, with pressures on all sides. We can give them space to discover their voice, while still tethered to parents and supportive adults. We can help normalize a full range of human emotions and experience, model the ability to pause and choose our responses rather than being continually reactive, and use repairs (apologies) when we make mistakes. Let’s show our youth that we can be trusted to help hold their fears, dreams, thoughts, and emotions as they go through high school!

I want to hear what you think and what you’re feeling.

How can I help my child know that I care about what’s in their heart? 

  • When you’re able to listen quietly to your own heart, what do you hope for, for yourself, your relationships, the world, your family?
  • What kind of friend/boyfriend-girlfriend/sibling do you want to be? What qualities would you like to bring to your relationships? What sort of friendships would you like to have?
  • What activities give you a sense of meaning, purpose, and excitement?
  • What kind of student would you like to be? What would make your education more meaningful?
  • How do you best relax and unwind? When do you feel peaceful? When do you feel free?
  • I know you hear all the time what I think you should do. I’d really like to hear your perspective on this.
  • It looks like you have pretty strong feelings about this. It must be important to you. I want to hear you.

We need each other. We all go through ups and downs.

How can I plant seeds for my child to know where to get help and know that I’m okay with it? 

  • Are you okay? Know I’m here if you ever want to talk.
  • It’s really normal to feel stressed/sad/tired/worried but if it gets to the point where you’re feeling like that a lot of the time it could be good to reach out for help. I’m here or the school counselors are available. Bainbridge Youth Services also has confidential counselors you can talk to at school. We can help you get what you need.
  • When I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed it’s often a signal that I need some self-care or have too much on my plate. How can we help you take care of yourself?
  • School can be really hard and we all need to help each other. Do you feel like you know how to get help with schoolwork if you need it? Have you heard of the tutoring program at BYS? Do you need help knowing how to talk to your teachers or counselors?
  • Where would you go for help if you needed it? Do you know who at the school can help you figure out your options?

We all make mistakes and we can always begin again.

How can I show my child it’s normal to make mistakes and how to work through difficulty? 

  • I’m noticing I’m getting pretty overwhelmed/frustrated/sad/discouraged right now and I’m sorry I’m not listening very well. I really want to hear you so give me a minute to breathe/relax/take a break so I can be there for you.
  • This is hard for me to hear and I’m sad/mad/frustrated but I’m here for you and want to hear your feelings and thoughts too. I messed up a lot of times in high school and still do, so let’s figure out together what we need to do to make this better.
  • I’m so sorry I yelled/ignored you earlier today. It’s been a stressful day but I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. I always want to hear what’s going on for you.


you do not have to be a fire for every mountain blocking you.

you could be a water and soft river your way to freedom too.

– options, by nayyirah waheed


Tell the parents to remember their kids are going insane so don’t crumble under the pressure of their demands. Say no sometimes. 

– an 8th grader’s advice for parents of freshman


Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.

– Albert Einstein