Q. No matter what I say or do, it's wrong, according to my 14-year-old. I don't know how to talk to her so she's not angry at me. Any ideas? Or is it just teenage hormones?
A. Sit down with your daughter and say, "I'm giving you three minutes to tell me exactly what I do that irritates you so much, and I promise not to interrupt you. After that, I get three minutes to explain what's behind my annoying behavior, and you can't interrupt. Then we'll write down what we heard, and take turns saying what we wrote."
Explain that you have two goals: to figure out what's creating so much friction, and to come up with a new strategy. For example, maybe the two of you could invent a code word or signal to let each other know when you're doing the things that are a problem. Conclude by telling her, "The bottom line is I need you to communicate your feelings without being rude, because no matter what your age or the situation there's never an excuse for bad manners."
Originally published in the June 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.