Conversation starters to use with your partner about signs you’re seeing in your child

At a glance

  • It’s important to talk with someone about differences you’ve noticed in your child.

  • Your partner may have observed the same things — or something else.

  • It’s not always easy to have the conversation, but having the words to start it can help.

If you’ve observed your child struggling, it helps to talk about it with other people who spend time with your child. One of those people is your parenting partner, if you have one. (If you don’t have one, you can talk with your child’s teacher or other caregivers, like extended family and babysitters.)

Your partner may have seen similar challenges or picked up on things you didn’t notice. Together you can compare notes and decide where to go next to figure out what your child’s behavior means.

Having that conversation isn’t always easy, though. You and your partner might not have the same views on why your child is struggling. Different parenting styles can make it hard to see eye to eye. You may have read or heard different things. Or maybe your partner just isn’t comfortable talking about challenges.

Having the words can make it easier to start the conversation, no matter where it takes you. Here are some conversation starters to help you get ready.

Asking to talk

It might feel strange to make an appointment to talk to your partner. But you don’t want to have this conversation on the fly, or at a time when you both can’t give it your full attention.

What you can say: “I’ve noticed some things going on with Jesse that I’m confused about. Can we talk after the kids are in bed tonight?”

Starting the conversation

You probably have an idea of how your partner will react. If you think it might be a difficult discussion, be calm and clear when you start sharing.

What you can say: “I’ve noticed some things going on with Jesse. I don’t know if they mean anything, but I’m a little concerned.”

Sharing information

Be as specific as you can be. This can help your partner understand your concerns. It also helps keep the conversation focused on your child.

What you can say: “You know how angry Jesse’s been lately? I’ve noticed that the outbursts usually happen after homework, particularly math work.”

Getting your partner’s input

It’s important that you don’t do all the talking. Try to “invite” your partner into the conversation.

What you can say: “Thanks for listening to this. Are you seeing these things, too? If so, when do you notice it?”

Closing out the conversation

The ultimate goal of sharing what you’ve seen is to have your partner join you in finding out what’s happening. So arrange to keep the dialogue going.

What you can say: “I’ve been worried for a while and I’m really glad we talked. Can you help me keep an eye on what we talked about?”

Then set up another “appointment” for you and your partner to check in. As the conversation goes on, decide together on next steps. That might be to reach out to your child’s pediatrician, or someone else who can help you figure out how best to support your child.

Key takeaways

  • Talking with your partner can give you new insight into your child.

  • Be as specific as possible when sharing information about your child.

  • Try to keep an open dialogue you can both contribute to.


Next steps