A teenager can be the hardest nut to crack even for someone who has raised them for 13 years and more. The way they suddenly take a u-turn from a child who followed everything you told them to do might be a hard thing for a parent to digest.
It’s not unnatural to be gripped by a fear that your child might turn out to be someone who’d never wanted them to be. They might not ask you to spend more time with them, but they really do desperately wish somebody would talk to them about it and ask them if anything is wrong. All they want is for someone to notice that they are in trouble.
They might not open up at first but as long as you are gentle enough and show that you really care, they will eventually open up to you. One way to make it easy for them to open up to you is to make sure you have a connection with them from the early stage. Don’t demand questions from them. Ask them out of concern and let them know that whatever it is, they won’t be scolded for it and that you are there to help them work out the problem together.
Ask them questions in a way that will naturally have them open up to you. An effective way to do is to state your opinion about something without sounding like you are blatantly saying a big ‘NO’ to whatever your teen is doing. Be affirmative and positive in your questioning and ask them in a way that will naturally have them open up to you.
When they state their opinion, don’t label it wrong immediately. Ask them why they think so or what makes them think that way. Keep it as casually conversational as possible. If nothing really works, you can make it sound like you want your teen to teach them with whatever you don’t know about, without jumping them of course. Questions that start with ‘I wonder…’ or ‘Don’t you think…’ usually naturally gets a reply from them.
Don’t push things on them forcefully and definitely not lecture them which is what agitates them the most. Always keep things to the level of discussion. Let them know that you are not there to punish them but to help.