Parents want to be involved in what their teens are doing, and they want to know who their teens are hanging out with. Of course, parents also want to educate and protect their teens, talk to them about tough issues, keep them from engaging in risky behavior, and teach them good values and good judgment.
The single most important element of talking with your teen is to listen. Respect your teen; don't pry or assume things without letting them explain their thoughts, actions and reasoning. Tell them that you want to understand, and don't let them feel that they are being prejudged. Adolescents are on their way to building their own individual identity and breaking away from their parents, so if they feel under attack, they will be even more rebellious and incommunicative. Even though teens tend to confide in their peers more than in their parents, there are everyday opportunities and situations that can be used to strike up a conversation. You can create opportunities to do things with your teen, and use the time together to bring up general issues. Family meals are a good time for dialogue, or when you and your teen are in the car together listening to music. Sometimes a TV program or movie will be a chance to ask a question or start a discussion without seeming to pry or get personal.
Keep an open line of communication with your teens. Focus on positive communication and feedback for successes and good things they have done, and don't dwell on failures and mistakes. Talk to your teens for the sake of communicating, not just to question them incessantly, criticize, or spend too much time telling them what to do. Let them know that you understand how they feel, and that you are interested in what they think and what they have to say. Empower your teens to face challenges and make good decisions by giving them confidence.