How to be a good ventriloquist

How to be a good ventriloquist

Over the past 25 years, Ronn Lucas has entertained four U.S. presidents, Queen Elizabeth and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. He has had three TV series and numerous TV specials, performed on Broadway and starred in his own Las Vegas show for nearly a decade.

The constant in all his acts: Boys’ Life magazine.

“My earliest shows were for my fellow Scouts,” Lucas says. “I often used jokes found in Boys’ Life. To this day, I’m pretty sure there is at least one joke floating around my act that was borrowed from Pedro.”

Lucas started with Boys’ Life. Now, you can, too, as this awesome ventriloquist shares the secrets of his art.


Ventriloquism (say ven-TRIL-o-kwism) is the art of talking with the tongue and not moving the mouth or face. When a skilled ventriloquist does this sitting beside a figure (or “dummy”) that has a moving mouth, it looks like the figure is talking. It works because humans use their eyes to find sound sources. When the ventriloquist is not moving his mouth but the puppet’s mouth is moving, people think they “see” the figure talking.


Sit in front of a mirror and make a slight smile with your lips parted. Make your teeth lightly touch. Your tongue should have room to move. If you see your tongue moving in the mirror, then change your smile until the tongue is hidden. Your goal is to breathe easily and read aloud these 19 letters without moving your lips:

A, C, D, E, G, H, I, J, K, L, N, O, Q, R, S, T, U, X, Z.

Practice the following sentences until they sound clear but your lips don’t move: “Hey, this rocks, dude! It is sooooo easy. Anything you can say, I can say, too!” If you sound muffled, try making your voice come from some higher place in your head as well as your mouth.


There are seven trickier letters: B, F, M, P, V, W and Y.

These letters normally require you to move your lips. To say them without moving his face, the ventriloquist borrows from the easy alphabet, some other letters or combined sounds to “fake” the tricky letters. Use these substitutions:

B = D
F = “eth”
M = N
P = T
V = “thee”
W and Y = O+I

Instead of saying “The Bad Boy Buys a Basket” the ventriloquist says, “The Dad Doy Duys a Dasket.” Try this in the mirror. At first, this substitution won’t sound right; but with practice, D can be made to sound like B. [Hint: When your tongue rises to the top inside of your mouth to make D, let it stick to the roof of your mouth a little longer before releasing. Also, say D but think B.]


Instead of saying “Phil is a Frisky, Funny Fellow,” try saying, “Thil is a Thrisky, Thunny Thellow.” Say the “eth” sound but think F as you do it.

“Mary Mashes Many Mangos” becomes “Nary Nashes Nany Nangos.” Make the N vibrate against the roof of your mouth. Keep thinking M.

“Peter is a Practice Pilot” becomes “Teter is a Tractice Tilot.” Try holding the T a little longer, then release with a little puff of air behind it.


“Vinnie Very much Values Victory” becomes “Thinny Thery nuch Thalues Thictory.”


W and Y are treated alike. By quickly sliding the letters O and I together you can say “O-Aye” and it sounds like Why. Try putting a fast O to the front of the following: “Why Would Wally Walk?” You’ll be saying “O-Aye O-ould O-olly O-alk?” Now drop the O (or say it silently in your head), and you’ll be saying a clean W sound without using your lips.

In a short time, these substitutions become automatic. Practice for 15 to 20 minutes a day and in about a week you’ll see some serious results! Practice your ventriloquism with a relaxed puppet-like voice that is higher or lower than your own.

How to be a good ventriloquist

Ventriloquists have been a popular form of entertainment for ages. Even with the success of ventriloquists like Jeff Dunham, people still have misconceptions about the art. It is time to debunk these myths in our own version of Ventriloquist Myth-Busters!

This is definitely not true. Early practioneers of the art tried to hide their methods using deception. Ventriloquists, like magicians, didn’t want people to learn their secrets. They created and spread the myth that ventriloquists were born with special abilities. Some people still believe that a ventriloquist has double throats or a second set of vocal chords.

The truth is, anyone can perform ventriloquism. To be a ventriloquist you simply need proper training and practice. There are books and even on-line ventriloquism lessons. People of all ages have learned and practiced the art.

Ventriloquists use a resonant voice, like a hum. The resonant voice needs two air passages for the sound to escape. The upper breathe stream escapes through the nasal cavity. The lower breathe stream escapes through a small opening between the lips of the ventriloquist. This makes a louder sound so the puppet can be heard.

If the ventriloquist had his or her lips closed, the air would not escape and the puppet voice would be muffled. So this myth is also busted.

This is another falsehood that spread. Usually by people who never learned to perform ventriloquism. If the teeth are clenched together, the lower breathe stream mentioned above could not escape. This would muffle the puppet’s voice. A skilled ventriloquist separates their teeth slightly and learns to talk without the use of their lips. There is no short cut for this technique. It requires practice.

The movie and television industry have created this popular myth. Movies wouldn’t be half as scary if a ventriloquist placed his figure in a case and put it away.

There is a thread of truth behind this myth. When the ventriloquist figure or puppet is on-stage, the ventriloquist treats the puppet as if it were real. By acting this way, the audience will suspend their belief and “buy into” the illusion of life. We realize that the puppet is just a tool. It is the instrument that a ventriloquist “plays” to present their performance.

The picture of a lonely person talking to dolls seems to be a popular image to people who have never experienced the magic of the art. The truth is, ventriloquism is a skill that takes practice, persistence and talent to present. People who take the art seriously and develop their skills are true artists.

Like any art or profession, there may be a few strange people, but most are down to earth and friendly. Ventriloquists even have an international convention where the pros teach amateur and semi-professionals.

If you are looking for a ventriloquist to entertain your audience, contact Tom Crowl now. Tom is a founding member of the International Ventriloquist Society. He is also the creator of the Learn-Ventriloquism Course. As a staff member of the Vent Haven ConVENTion, Tom is a respected leader in the industry. If his program is not right for your event, Tom is happy to direct you to a someone who can help.

How to be a good ventriloquist

We all have ups and downs to life. How do you deal with the downs? Do you numb yourself and avoid them? Or do you find the hidden gift held within them?

Each time a painful emotion is felt, it provides an opportunity.Pain gives us the gift of growth in a hidden package.Something is shouting out for a change.If we pause and open this gift, a great secret of freedom and love can be revealed.Sometimes when the pain is large enough, we have no choice but to look at it anyway. My largest pains have helped to open the greatest growths in my life.Hey, it’s worth a shot, right?

Finding a healthy way to vent can even help to relieve anxiety, something more and more of us are suffering from in these times. Those who don’t find a healthy way of venting often stuff it inside until they explode one day or get into the habit of finding ways to numb themselves, such as eating. Venting can help to truly relieve stress, which is known to cause many ailments and “dis-eases” in our bodies.

Before true clarity can be reached on why something is happening, it is best to free up the strong energy that arises from the frustration of the situation. Once that energy has been expressed, you can rest in the stillness, while still connected to the power of emotion, to reach the greatest levels of clarity possible. It is here where our insight is at a natural high. With the power of the openness we have after pain, our greatest growth can happen. We can release the ties to these situations and grow beyond them.

Here are some ways to vent out the frustrations, sadness, and anger that arise as a normal part of growing and a healthy life:

  1. Cry. When you feel deeply sad, crying works beautifully.Often when we cry, we want a shoulder to cry on.If none is available, cry to yourself and receive it with love.Either way, allowing yourself the space to cry can work wonders on freeing up the stored up energy inside that is too much to contain within.While crying connect with the pain you feel and cry into it.
  2. Punch. If you feel very angry, you may feel the desire to hit something. A very healthy way of exerting this powerful energy is to punch a pillow. Hit the pillow like it’s the person/thing you are angry at. Yell and cuss at it as well if that helps to release that tension. Cuss words are great at opening up that stored up energy and getting to the root of your emotions. As you hit, smash into that frustration and feel exactly what aspects of it are making you angry.
  3. Write. Writing can help to clear the overwhelm of information in your head. It allows a pouring out of what is going on inside. Once you’ve written all you can, some things will still stand out or certain feelings may still be felt strongly. These are the largest lessons in the situation. Writing provides a great clarity that other ways may not give. You can easily reflect on what you were feeling in the situation once the emotion has passed in an effort to keep the lesson fresh in your mind and heart. Some people enjoy tearing up the pages after they’ve written as a way to exert their frustration. Molly Cook suggests capturing the emotions and negative energy in the paper, for your eyes only, as a private way to vent. Laurel Sutton recommends online communities such as Asshat! They allow a platform for transforming your frustration into an amusing rant and provide the opportunity for anonymous feedback, if desired.
  4. Exercise. Some of your most frustrating days in your life may turn out to be your best days in the gym. As Jen Olewinskiso beautifully puts it, “Plus, getting in shape can’t be that bad right?”Running, boxing and walking all allow great ways to vent.Many spiritual people find their way into their deepest connections through opening the door to regular exercise.Exerting energy in this way, with aregular commitment to their health, opens them like nothing else.
  5. Talk. One woman told me the story of a nurse who rode the bus every day. She found a way to stay remarkably young-looking by letting go of anger immediately. She did not direct it at her family or others. Instead, she got on the bus and waited for a passenger to sit near. She’d ask if they minded listening to her and if not, she’d share her dilemma. Once she’d talked it out, she’d thank them and get off the bus. Often times, we can learn so much just by hearing ourselves speak and we don’t need much feedback at all. If you have a trusted confident or teacher, even better.
  6. Create Art. What better to do than to channel this energy into creating something beautiful? Pablo Solomon is an artist who bangs a hung of stone with a hammer and chisel to release his tension. He used the frustration of 9/11 to make it one of his most productive times ever.

So how do you vent? Please share. You may help someone else who will connect with what you do…

How to be a good ventriloquist

There have probably been plenty of times when your friends needed to vent, and there is nothing more painful than when you can’t help them in their time of need. But whether you believe it or not, figuring out how to be a good listener is the most important thing you could do. In a society where we all love to voice our opinions on social media, sometimes, it’s best to take a step back. There’s more to listening than just sitting there and "kind of" paying attention; it’s about being fully engaged with that other person and letting the speaker feeling validated while they express themselves to you.

It seems it takes a lot to get someone to truly listen to you. There is so much out there that can easily distract us, and it seems, that people (especially us millennials) actually get bored fairly quickly. According to an article on Dr. Don Friedman’s personal website, Michael Nichols, PhD said this in his book, The Lost Art of Listening, “To listen is to pay attention, take an interest, care about, take to heart, validate, acknowledge, be moved, appreciate” While we might consider it normal to be distracted by everyday things while we are talking to our friends, why not change that outlook and conform to a new way of "listening" instead? To elaborate even more, here are six ways you can easily amp up your listening skills the next time someone needs a shoulder to lean on.

1. Don’t Be Distracted

Get rid of that phone. Stop picking at your nails. Your friend is coming to you because they trust you enough to be open and vulnerable. The most respectable thing you could do is to be completely present and make eye contact. It’s not easy for everyone to be open about their feelings, and if your nonverbals are talking louder than what your friend is expressing, then that’s not a good thing. For myself, this makes me feel more connected to my friend because I feel like they are truly listening. It shows that they really care about what is going on in my life and they want to help any which way they can — even if it that means they’re just letting me vent.

2. Talk Less

Sometimes the best thing you could do while your friend talks about their emotions and current events is to literally just sit there. Trust me, I know that that may sound strange, but for the majority of the time, when your friend asks to talk, it’s merely for them to get things off their chest. Of course, it’s totally OK to jump in when you feel like there is a pause in the conversation, but if you feel that you are starting to talk about your own life more than your friend’s, well. you might want to switch it up. It’s always good to ask questions every now and then as well; it shows that you really want to help and you’re concerned enough to want to know more information about the situation.

3. Have A Thinking Mindset Not a Doing Mindset

When you are listening, you are thinking about what your friend is talking about. According to Arie Kruglanski, a social psychologist, and his colleagues at the University of Maryland in an article on Fast Company, there are two distinct motivational mindsets: A thinking mindset and a doing mindset. When you allow yourself to think, it puts the conversation and your surrounding in perspective. Absorb what your friend is by allowing your mind to rest while your friend speaks. It’s really the polite thing to do.

4. Keep Your Nonverbals In Check

Although I already touched a little bit on this subject earlier, it’s really this important, especially when you are face-to-face with your friend. According to an article for Lee Hopkins, a communication specialist’s site, social scientists have stated that "verbal communication skills account for 7 percent of the communication process. The other 93 percent consist of nonverbal and symbolic communication and are called ‘listening skills." The way you sit and position yourself is vital to how your friend perceives you and your listening skills. If you have your hands crossed and/or your rolling your eyes, your friend is definitely going to think that you are being closed off and not open-minded. Keep it light and simple. Don’t be afraid to show an occasional nod or even a slight smile, depending on the subject at hand .

5. Listen With Empathy

There may be some of those fleeting moments that you may have had in your head, when you can’t believe your friend thought that or did that. But, in the end, your friend is human and that’s why we have buddies to vent to. If you show any sort of judgement towards your friend, you are essentially violating their trust. Before making any quick evaluations on your friends, try to envision what the whole picture might entail. An article on Psychology Today referenced a quote from the Dalai Lama that said, “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”

6. Don’t Try To Fix The Problem

This one is pretty hard for me. When my friend is in pain and is trying to find a solution for their own troubles, sometimes it’s hard for me to not want to jump in to help them out any which way I can. But there is always a time and place for that, and when your friend is venting, it’s important to focus on just listening, of course, unless they ask for your advice. If you want to try to help your friend, sometimes asking questions might put things in perspective for them. According to a Harvard Business Review article, Mark Goulston, a psychiatrist and author of Just Listen says,"Pose questions like, ‘What are you most angry about?’ and ‘What are you really worried about?’ They’ll feel heard, and you’ll get to the root of the problem."

After all, your friend needs you more than you know. Make sure that you are fully focused on what they are saying and don’t let them feel judged for them opening up to you in the first place. Take these steps and try practicing the next time a love one needs to do a little venting. You’ll be a listening pro in no time.

A ventriloquist has the ability to keep his mouth closed and "throw" his voice to make it seem like a dummy or puppet is actually talking. Famed ventriloquist Jeff Dunham has mastered this skill, and his appearances with characters like Peanut, Walter and Achmed the Dead Terrorist have earned him legions of fans. Before he found fame, Dunham's involvement with ventriloquism began when he received a ventriloquist's doll for Christmas in 1970. The gift interested him so much that he soon immersed himself in ventriloquism, studying the technique and practicing intensely. And, as it turned out, he ended up with his dream career.

Dunham got his first ventriloquist's dummy for Christmas

On a visit to a Dallas toy store with his mother before Christmas in 1970, an 8-year-old Dunham happened to spot a kid-friendly version of a ventriloquist's doll known as Mortimer Snerd. Snerd was a figure used by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. Though ventriloquism had declined in popularity since the days of vaudeville in the early part of the 20th century, Bergen had become very successful via radio. Thanks to television and film appearances, Bergen and his dummy sidekicks — in addition to an intellectually inept Snerd, Bergen worked with the debonair Charlie McCarthy — remained well-known in the 1960s and '70s.

In his memoir, All By My Selves, Dunham recounts that though he'd seen ventriloquists on TV, this was first ventriloquist's dummy he'd encountered in real life. Intrigued, he asked his mother to buy it. Though he didn't receive the doll that day, his mother had been on the lookout for Christmas gift ideas. When Dunham opened his presents on December 25, he discovered Snerd among them.

Dunham was delighted by the gift. Yet he hadn't exactly been pining for Snerd since the toy store visit — in his memoir, he admitted he'd completely forgotten about the doll. Fortunately, his mother had been paying attention, and everything else fell into place for Dunham to get this present. As he noted in All By My Selves, "Life is a series of 'what if's. What if I hadn't made that turn in the toy store and seen the ventriloquist dummy? What if my mom had thought it was a feather-brained idea and that boys shouldn’t play with dolls? What would I be doing today?"

How to be a good ventriloquist

Jeff Dunham on 'The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson' in 1990

Photo: Julie Gorecki/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Even as a child, Dunham was determined to master ventriloquism

Getting the Mortimer Snerd dummy was only a first step on Dunham's road to becoming a ventriloquist. Next, he needed to learn how to keep his mouth shut and talk as Snerd, all while opening and closing Snerd's mouth — to maintain the illusion that Snerd was the one speaking — by manipulating a string in the back of the doll's neck.

The dummy had come with some how-to instructions about ventriloquism, but that wasn't enough for Dunham. Soon after Christmas, he visited a bookmobile run by the Dallas Public Library to get materials about ventriloquism. On another visit to the toy store, he acquired an instructional record called Jimmy Nelson’s Instant Ventriloquism (Nelson was a ventriloquist who'd appeared on TV in the 1950s, most memorably in ads for Nestlé's Quik). Dunham would repeatedly listen to Nelson's recorded instructions. The final step was straightforward but required a great deal of discipline for a young boy: hours and hours of practice.

Dunham has said of ventriloquism, "There’s a skill to it, but anybody can learn to do it. It’s like learning to play a musical instrument." With his Snerd figure, he began the learning process, which included tackling issues such as how to mask the fact that certain letters are impossible to sound out without moving your lips. Dunham spent hours in front of his bathroom mirror studying his facial expressions and trying to keep his mouth still.

At the time ventriloquist dummies for children were widely available, and many of Dunham's contemporaries owned them. But Dunham stood out in how he threw himself into learning ventriloquism. The skill fascinated him, so he was willing to commit to intense practice that other kids his age balked at. And, as a shy boy, he appreciated the fact that ventriloquism offered a way for him to be more outgoing.

Venting can be a healthy way to express frustration, but when it becomes toxic, it creates a cycle of negativity that’s hard to repair. Though it feels good to vent in the moment, toxic venting creates significant anger and resentment that is unhealthy for you and your relationships.

On the other hand, healthy venting helps you to heal and move forward. By reasoning things out with someone else, you gain clarity on what’s happening. Confiding in someone often lessens the pain because you feel supported. You avoid getting stuck in all that negativity.

What is Toxic Venting?

Toxic venting feels like an attack on someone’s character. Whether you are the one venting, or you’re listening to someone else do it, this communication makes the other person out to be “the bad guy.” This type of bad-mouthing becomes an intense form of gossip.

With toxic venting, the person gets fixated on the other person’s faults. There is no rationale, only targeted rage. Instead of feeling momentarily upset, the venting mimics contempt, which according to The Gottman Institute for Couples Therapy is the single best predictor of divorce.

Examples of contempt include:

  • Name-calling, put downs or criticisms that hit below the belt
  • Acting like the other person “is beneath you”, lazy or stupid
  • Making comparisons to another person or implying they don’t deserve you
  • A lack of accountability for your part in the situation

But toxic venting isn’t just about complaining. It’s telling the same story repeatedly from a victim’s point of view. This behavior fuels gossip and resentment which can make them difficult to give up. Unfortunately, some people feed off of a juicy story!

Those who learn this type of behavior as children, may rely on it a way to get attention. Listening to family tell negative stories makes an impact on how we view conflict. These negative stories become almost entertaining, but unfortunately, at someone else’s expense.

Primary Examples of Toxic Venting

  • Repeatedly criticizing someone’s character but rarely acknowledging their good qualities
  • Complaining about what others do but never admitting your own behavior
  • Implying that someone is less than, stupid or worthless in any way

Each time the person re-tells the negative story, the emotional intensity makes it harder to forgive and move forward. Over time, this can impact physical health and create stress-related illnesses.

Living in the negative story feels draining even though temporarily it gives us energy. Over time, people who are emotionally healthy become repelled by the behavior. Some may distance themselves as a way to avoid having to listen to it.

What is Healthy Venting?

When venting is healthy, the boundaries are clear; you are expressing frustration to get support and seek solutions. It’s not a free-for-all to say whatever you are thinking out loud. There are firm limits that don’t get crossed.

Healthy venting acknowledges frustration while not getting stuck in the feelings. When the person vents in a healthy way, their focus is to get relief, not to be right. The person can communicate what’s upsetting without blame or condemning the other person. While this may include some complaining, it’s not the primary focus. Healthy venting addresses what’s not working while brain storming solutions.

Tips for Healthy Venting

  • Reaching out to trusted friends to reason things out
  • Expressing yourself through “I” statements which keeps the focus on feelings
  • Acknowledging anger and other emotions without getting into character attacks
  • Writing in a journal to express yourself without being censored

Final Thoughts

When done constructively, healthy venting helps you recognize what needs to change in order to seek solutions. Making an effort to see things from the other person’s point of view tranforms the story. For instance, instead of getting increasingly upset, you start to empathize with the other person. You can hold two different points of view rather than being right.

Healthy venting provides a sense of emotional release and connection because you feel heard. Acknowledging your upset in a healthy way makes it possible to resolve issues without damaging the relationship. That way, everyone wins!

How to be a good ventriloquist

When it comes to relationships, different people want different levels of privacy. Any issue I’m having with my partner, with my friends, or with my life gets aired out to my closest friends. While the old school way of thought think that talking about your relationship is somehow betraying your partner’s trust, venting to your friends can actually be a good thing.

"Despite what many assert, if we’re dating, we have to talk to our friends about it — who else can we go to for comfort, encouragement, and strategizing?” relationship expert Dr. Karin Anderson Abrell tells Bustle. And the same is true when you’ve been in a relationship for a while. Whether it’s the early days or later on, your friends are the ones who can give you some tough love — or tell you when it’s time to just tough it out. Although, there are limits.

"Be advised, however, that our [friends] can only do so much for us and if our emotional needs become intense, we can’t expect them to serve as therapists," Dr. Abrell says. "But in general, our besties provide imperative support as we navigate our way through the dating scene.” Talking to your friends can actually be really cathartic. So, here’s why venting about your relationship is actually a good thing — because pretending everything is perfect all the time really isn’t a great option.

Your Friends Know You Better Than Anyone

As Dr. Abrell says, if you can’t talk to your friends then who can you talk to? You’ve chosen your friends — at least your closest friends — for a good reason.

“They’re trustworthy and genuine,” Jamie Gruman, Ph.D., a professor of organizational behavior and author of Boost: The Science of Recharging Yourself in an Age of Unrelenting Demands, tells Bustle. “They offer us a sounding board to test ideas and show our true selves while knowing they won’t betray our confidences or make us feel ashamed of our weaknesses. They offer us caring, honest feedback, even when it might hurt.”

And with relationships, sometimes you need that tough love to bring you back to earth. It can be hurtful, but also necessary. “When it comes to questioning whether or not you’re moving too fast or whether or not [someone] is the right one for you, they will have great insight,” says dating expert and matchmaker Sarah Patt. And your friends can only give you good advice if you’re being honest with them. So venting it out can give them the information they need to help you.

It Normalizes Disagreements

Having relationship problems, conflicts, disagreements, and even arguments is all normal. In fact, it can even be good for you.

"Conflict is a normal, natural part of relationships, and can be healthy, especially if it leads to improved communication and strength of the relationship," therapist Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT tells Bustle

If you act like everything is perfect all the time, it’s going to leave you feeling tense and bottled up. But talking to your friends and hearing what they’re going through can be really helpful, because it reminds us that everyone fights and disagrees from time to time. And, even more than that, your friends can help bolster you to have strong, direct communication with your partner, rather than swiping issues under the rug.

But Choose Your Friends Wisely

Of course though, you may want to be aware of which friends you’re venting to. The sad truth is, many of us have toxic friendships and people who may not give the greatest advice. If that’s the case, you may want to be a little savvier with your venting or take what they say with a pinch of salt. Or a pile of salt. Or all of the salt. Venting is great, but sometimes you have to be mindful of how you do it and who you’re doing it with.

You may think of venting as being disloyal to your partner or somehow reflecting badly on your relationship — and nobody is asking you to share their deepest, darkest secrets. But having some room to get issues off your chest, get advice, and see things from another angle is a good thing. So vent away, but remember that ultimately, nobody knows your relationship better than the two of you.

If you have a good relationship with your parents, you probably know that all they want is for you to be happy. They told you that when you brought home a bad grade on a math test and when you went through a tough breakup. They reminded you after arguments in which you all said some things you shouldn’t have. Really, chances are they’ve been thinking about your happiness since before you were even born.

And don’t you want the same for them? You can’t guarantee that anyone will be happy every minute of every day, but if you knew you could add more joy to your parents’ lives, wouldn’t you do it? Here are 17 ways to get started:

1. Talk to them when you’re upset, but call them again when you’re feeling better.
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have days where you call them sobbing that your life sucks and everything is terrible when the problem is mostly that you’re overtired, but because these days are inevitable, your parents want you to feel comfortable calling to vent/discuss/continue sobbing. When you do, though, they will worry, and they won’t know you calmed down an hour later unless you call back to tell them.

2. Accept their generosity.
You’re an adult, and with any luck gainfully employed. They shouldn’t have to buy you clothes or give you extra spending money. Realize that they may not be doing it because they have to. They want to. Say thank you as Mom pays for that new dress at the register. Say thank you again when you wear it to dinner and she compliments you on how nice you look.

3. Remember that gifts shouldn’t go one way.
You don’t have to buy anything extravagant, but it’s nice to give them something from time to time. You’re an adult with a salary, after all.

4. Acknowledge the ways in which you’ve become them.
At the end of the day, all you want to do is wash your face and brush your teeth, just like Mom. You get overly excited over airfare deals, just like Dad. Let them know that you recognize just how little distance there is between the apple and the tree — and you’re good with that.

5. Call your grandmother just to say hi.
Yes, you should call your parents. But in addition, just think about how pleased your mom sounds when she says, “Grandma told me you called –- that was nice of you.”

6. Talk through big decisions with them.
They bought a house. They changed jobs. They had children. Basically, they’ve been there. You will ultimately make the choices that are right for you, but by consulting them as you’re making a major decision, you not only gain perspective but also make clear that you still value their insights.

7. Reference childhood jokes and memories.
Mispronounce Haagen-Dazs as “Hazel-Dazel” the way you used to. (Or was that just me?) Do the hand motions to a Passover song subtly across the Seder table. Ask about your favorite stuffed animal. With just a little remark or gesture, you can tell your parents that you have fond memories of your childhood.

8. Meet someone who makes you happy.
This one is tricky because it’s not something you can just check off your to-do list when you have a little downtime. And it’s not something you should rush or force. But when you find the person whose mere existence delights you, the person who cares about you in the way that you deserve to be cared about, there’s no way your parents won’t be delighted too.

9. Share photos.
Your parents can’t be there for every joyous or fun or just silly moment of your life, nor should they be. But because they get joy out of your joy, it’s worth taking a few minutes to send them a picture from your recent hiking trip or that priceless image of your kid’s spaghetti-eating fiasco. Do you have time to check Facebook? You have time to do this.

10. Visit.
No one doubts you’re busy. No one would argue that plane tickets are cheap. But if you don’t make it happen, one day –- a day you don’t want to think about at this point –- you’re going to admit to yourself that you could have. And wish you had.

11. Embrace the family vacation.
It doesn’t have to mean Disney World anymore, though it certainly can. Because quick weekend trips to your hometown can be stressful, it can be really nice to schedule a longer trip together. Concerned about too much togetherness? Pick a destination where you can all do your own thing during the day and meet up later for dinner.

12. Be affectionate.
Give hugs beyond the ones that bookend a get-together.

13. Introduce them to your friends.
Show them you’ve moved past any embarrassment you felt as a teen. Now you feel it is important for the people in your life to know them. And vice versa.

14. Ask them to dance.
It doesn’t have to be your wedding for a father-daughter dance, and the song doesn’t have to be slow and sappy. When “Poker Face” comes on, grab your dad’s hand and pull him to the dance floor. He knows all the words anyway.

15. Gossip with them.
There are few things more enjoyable than sitting around and talking sh*t with your family. By telling them about that friend who caused an utterly unnecessary scene at a recent dinner, you’re essentially saying, “You get it. You understand why this is absurd.” It’s not the kindest way to bond, but it’s likely to lead to laughter.

16. Have a meal with your sibling(s).
They always hoped you would be friends one day. Text your parents a photo of the two or five of you eating sushi together.

17. “I love you.”

Do you use the guidelines above to make your parents happy? Do you have more ideas to add? Tweet your thoughts @HuffPostWomen using #gooddaughter, and we’ll include them in a slideshow below.

It’s great to have a friend who you feel comfortable with and trust enough to talk to about personal things and reveal what’s going on in your mind. In some cases, that kind of relationship might provide all the support that you need. However, sometimes just talking to a friend isn’t enough and you might need to seek professional help to work through what it is you’re going through. If these things seem familiar, it might be time to book an appointment with a therapist.

You find yourself complaining to your friend(s) 24/7 when you’re spending time with them.
How to be a good ventriloquist
Yes, friends are there to help support you emotionally and listen to you vent when you’re upset and dealing with something major. However, it’s unfair to expect a friend to be a dumping ground for all of your issues all the time. Your friends probably don’t mind if you vent to them occasionally, but it will become exhausting and frustrating if it’s all you talk about to them. A healthy relationship, whether platonic and romantic, is a balanced one. If you find yourself constantly “venting” during the time you spend together and monopolizing every conversation with your woes, it’s probably time to talk to a therapist.

You’ve talked to your friend about the same issues multiple times and made no progress in solving them.
How to be a good ventriloquist
If you’ve been venting about the same things to your friend over and over and you don’t feel any better—in fact, maybe you even feel worse—it’s definitely time to talk to a professional therapist. If your problems aren’t getting any easier to deal with or solve from talking about them to a friend, it’s a sign that you need to talk to someone who’s better equipped to help you figure out a plan of attack.

You feel worse about your situation after venting to a friend.
How to be a good ventriloquist
A friend isn’t a professional therapist, so it’s possible that their advice or response to your problems has been less than ideal and/or made you feel worse about what you’re going through from time to time. That sucks, but it’s unreasonable to expect a friend to always know how to help you or what to say. A therapist will know how to navigate your issues and can help you figure out what the next best step is. If you’ve felt worse after venting to a friend, it’s a sign that you need to talk to someone who is more capable of understanding your situation.

Your emotions are spiraling out of control.
How to be a good ventriloquist
If your friend isn’t available to talk when you feel an emotional breakdown coming, do you get angry and upset at her? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, it’s time to find a therapist. It’s fine to vent to your friend about problems in a calm and collected way when she asks what’s going on with you, but if you literally cannot stop your emotions from spiraling whenever she’s not at your beck and call, you need to get professional help.

You feel like you might hurt yourself (or someone else).
How to be a good ventriloquist
If you’ve gotten to the point where you feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else, your friend will not be able to provide the treatment that you need in order to process and heal. Sometimes when you’re in a dark, lonely mindset and it feels like there is no way to feel better or fix it, you turn to last-resort options (or at least consider them). If that’s the case, you need to talk to a therapist.

Your friend is dealing with her own problems too.
How to be a good ventriloquist
If the friend you trust the most to vent too is dealing with a lot in her own personal life, you should probably talk to a therapist rather than her because she might not have the emotional strength at the moment to handle your issues as well as her own. It’s always good to try to be aware of the people you lean on and make sure that they’re able to provide emotional support before just expecting them to do so.

You feel yourself editing the truth when venting to your friend.
How to be a good ventriloquist
If you feel like you can’t be completely honest with your friend out of fear she’ll judge you or tell someone else, that’s a sign you need to talk to a therapist instead. A therapist will be an impartial person with no hidden agenda and absolutely no judgment. They will look at the situation objectively and you won’t have to worry about being judged or your secrets getting out.

It generally feels like you need more support in your life.
How to be a good ventriloquist
Sometimes we all need more support than the loved ones in our lives can give us, and at times like those, it’s important to seek help from a professional. That person is educated and able to give you the support you need without being overwhelmed or emotionally exhausted.

The best dating/relationships advice on the web – sponsored. If you’re reading this, check out Relationship Hero a site where highly trained relationship coaches get you, get your situation, and help you accomplish what you want. They help you through complicated and difficult love situations like deciphering mixed signals, getting over a breakup, or anything else you’re worried about. You immediately connect with an awesome coach via text or over the phone in minutes. Just click here…

The best dating/relationships advice on the web – sponsored. If you’re reading this, check out Relationship Hero a site where highly trained relationship coaches get you, get your situation, and help you accomplish what you want. They help you through complicated and difficult love situations like deciphering mixed signals, getting over a breakup, or anything else you’re worried about. You immediately connect with an awesome coach via text or over the phone in minutes. Just click here…