I am always looking for ways to stay connected to my daughters as the walls of their worlds expand daily. There are a lot of experts with advice about keeping the lines of communication open with teens, creating meaningful discussion, and building relationships with them. Well, I have some of my own:
Don’t talk to them. Comment on the music, compliment their hair, but don't try to engage in meaningful conversation. Listen to how they talk to their friends - it's not long-winded discourse - they talk to each other in bursts. Sometimes the best information is not a conversation, but a snippet that can lead to a conversation later.
Let them text or type. I lost my ability to multi-task years ago. My children know this and use it to get permission for things while I am distracted by something else. Just the same, when teens are multi-tasking, they are likely to answer a question without thinking about it - so we get the raw facts.
Feed them. Food has long been a way for moms to care for their families. Teens let their guard down when they sit down at the table (or on it). Munchies seem to work the best because they have to keep coming back for more - again the snippet concept.
In one weekend, using these techniques I was able to find out that: Amber's mom won't let her watch PG-13 movies, Angela copies Sara's every move, Melanie got a concussion in cheer-leading, Sam was shopping for a different homecoming dress, the tendinitis in Erin's knee was still bothering her, and I had supposedly reported a drinking party to the school authorities.
It may not seem like much, but snippets work. Instead of the typical, "How was your day?" I can ask, "Did Sam find another dress?" to which she will reply, "You would not believe what Sam said in math today - I don't even want to talk about her." Hmmm, another snippet....