Another useful item from my collection: Road trips are a great way to bond during the silent years. Even the most remote teen cannot bear two days in the car without conversation. Eventually they will make some kind of overture and you can probably have some meaningful discussions, if you are willing to wait in silence for a while.
Also, driving in the dark can provide great opportunities for embarrassing discussions. If you can bring your self to open the discussion by remarking on a XXX-video store or billboard for a "gentlemen's club" you can find yourself addressing a lot of questions your teens may be carrying around with them. I once, in the dark, explained the actual meaning of every forbidden word my kids had ever seen written on a bathroom wall (and why we obviously shouldn't use them). Definitely a discussion that would not have happened face to face in the light of day!
From another friend: when your kid drives someplace alone for the first time, find someone to wait with until the "I have safely arrived phone call comes." This is a multi-phase kind of rule. First they drive to the grocery store or church or school by themselves. Later they drive to the suburbs. Then, it's the next big town over and eventually it's an interstate trip. Finally, they will take trips and tell you AFTER the fact. And you'll be relieved you didn't have to worry the whole time they were driving from college to Canada just because they'd never left the country before. . .
And a few don'ts from the same sources:
- Don't ever give them a brand new car.
- Don't be afraid to make them earn their car: I know someone who successfully raised three fine young men by forcing them to drive the family minivan until they finished their Eagle Scout requirements.
- Don't make them bear all the expense of having a car. 1) Because they will have to have a job during the school year and then quit all their extra-curriculars to find the time to work. And instead of hanging with high-achieiving band members or athletes or school newspaper reporters, they'll be hanging with high-school dropouts at minimum wage jobs. 2) You can't really take it away if they bought it themselves.
- Don't assume they are going where they say they are going.
- Don't hesitate to make them responsible for washing and gassing it or for driving their younger sibs to things.