"My Teen Won't Talk to Me!"

Keeping Her Safe

Your job, however, is to keep her safe -- and that requires knowing where she is and who she is with. It's okay to press her, and insist on knowing her whereabouts. Let her know clearly that it's not because you want to dominate her life and control her; it's because it's a safety issue for family members to keep track of one another. Understand that she probably won't say, "No problem, Mom." She's more likely to huff away.

But let her. To be compliant and agreeable equates to dependency. And teens are not necessarily doing their developmental homework when they're sweet and pleasant.

Lastly, when she's home and sits down to eat a meal, sit down with her. Don't pump her for information, but open up to her about your life. Tell her of a juicy incident at the office, let her in on a bit of family gossip, explain an outrageous piece of news. It's complimentary to teens that you see them as old enough to be in on a few intimacies of your life. Although there are no guarantees, by letting a teen in on your life, she just may let you in of hers.

Jan Faull, MEd, is a veteran parent educator and the author of two parenting books, Mommy, I Have to Go Potty and Unplugging Power Struggles. She writes a biweekly parenting advice column for HealthyKids.com, and a weekly parenting advice column in the Seattle Times newspaper. Jan Faull is the mother of three grown children and lives in the Seattle area.

Originally published on HealthyKids.com, February 2005.

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