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Parenting a teenager can be challenging, and a cancer diagnosis within the family can make it even more difficult for a teenage patient or sibling. Genuine connection with teens doesn’t always come easily or even naturally. The GIVE skill is a particularly helpful tool to utilize as parents consider how to prepare for connection opportunities with their teenagers.

The GIVE skill encourages us to: be Gentle, act Interested, Validate, and use an Easy manner.

When we do these things, we have the opportunity to move from a quick check-in about school that involves the parent looking at the calendar on their phone to check the family’s itinerary and the teenager answering quickly before going to their room to a more intentional interaction that includes eye contact, lightheartedness in nonverbal communication and shared laughter about an event of the day, and two family members ending the conversation hopefully feeling more connected to one another. If a conversation is not as pleasant in subject matter, this skill still allows for connection via expressing understanding of one another’s points, even if full agreement cannot be reached. While many of us know the importance of aspects of the GIVE skill, intentionally utilizing the skill as a whole grounds us in the goal of connection with our teenager and provides us with a framework of how to do so.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based therapeutic process built on modules that allow people to better understand their own feelings and how to achieve their goals in connection with others. One of the modules that focuses on connection with others is interpersonal effectiveness, which teaches ways to communicate our needs, wants, and values without jeopardizing our relationship with others.


Alyssa Morrison, LCSW, is a psychotherapist specializing in grief and loss processes, trauma, and mood disorders. Prior to opening her therapy practice, she worked at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as a social worker including roles with the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and also the Emergency Department/Psychiatry liaison services. She is honored to continue to work with CURE and connect with families impacted by childhood cancer. She offers in-person appointments in her Decatur office as well as telehealth appointments. She can be reached at