You don't have to quit your job to become more available to your children, says clinical psychologist Neil Bernstein. Here are some ways that parents can develop a stronger, more open relationship with their teenagers.
* Know how to make conversation. Don't try to use their language; that will sound false. But do ask them what happened at school. Who got in trouble? Who got asked out?
* Enter their world. Find out what they do with their friends. Offer to drive them places.
* Look around their room. Ask about their posters, their artwork.
* Know their music. Find out as much as you can about the music they listen to. Read their magazines; watch MTV.
* Watch them with their friends. Are they comfortable? At ease? Is there a playful sense of give and take?
* Share things about yourself. Teenagers love it when you talk about when you were their age. They might not act like it. But they will remember it.
* Start conversations on a positive note. Don't be a constant nag. Find something good to say every time.
* Ask their advice. Teens appreciate being valued for their opinion.
* Ask open-ended questions. Ask a yes-no question, and you'll get a yes-no answer. If you want to start a conversation, ask what they think.
* Match their moods. If you sense that they're angry or upset, it's okay to show you feel the same way. It will help you bond on that issue, and you'll have some common ground the next time.
-- Lynn Cook