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In fact, she may bottle up her feelings or turn to friends for advice (which is often inaccurate).

Mary Ellen Amtower was amazed when her daughter told her she'd turned down a date with a boy she liked because he had a friend ask rather than asking himself.

"I thought it showed marvelous maturity and I wanted to share that," says Mary Ellen, who lives in Highland, Maryland.

So later that night Mary Ellen filled in her husband, who caught a glimpse of their daughter rushing upstairs, visibly upset. "She wrote me a note saying she thought it was just between us and she seriously doubted if she could ever trust me again," says Mary Ellen.

It can be tough getting adolescents to open up, and while it's often just the natural order of things—after all, a need for privacy comes with the territory—sometimes it's parents who break down the lines of communication. She made a classic parental mistake: betraying her daughter's trust. It's tricky navigating such communication minefields, but if you can figure out how to do it, you'll clear the way for meaningful conversations with your kids.

She interrupted me during my homework to talk about it," says Kelly, who didn't pay much attention. "While we can't always stop what we're doing the moment our child wants to talk, saying, 'Not now, I'm busy,' sends the message that he or she is low on our priority list." Eventually your kids will stop coming to you at all.