• Acquaint yourself with your teenager's environment. He's likely to feel further away and more removed from your influence than ever, and he probably assumes that you don't care what he spends his time listening to, reading or watching on TV or in movie theaters. With or without him, see the movies, watch the television shows, listen to the music, and read the magazines, but don't do so with the intention of telling him how stupid or offensive it is. He likes this stuff; respect his opinions.
• Encourage spirited dinner discussions, but try to avoid turning the meal into a shouting match over politics, religion or sex. He's likely to take it very seriously, so it's not a good idea to make light of it. But you don't have to get as worked up as he does. If he says something particularly offensive to you, remember that he knew it would be offensive when he said it. He's going to be better at pushing your buttons than anyone else, and he will push with impunity. Also remember that he will be out of the house in three short years.
• Flatter him, but be honest. He's likely to think you're only saying certain things because you're his mother, so be specific in your praise. Instead of trying to boost his ego by saying, "You're just the most handsome boy ever," use a more believable compliment: "You have very striking eyes. It's only a matter of time before girls start noticing you." He still may shrug you off, but at least he heard it.
• Convince him by your actions and your words that you consider him a distinct individual. His rebellious nature will be reined in only when he is convinced that you no longer see him - or treat him - as your baby boy. One little way for you to show him that you recognize his increasingly adult manner is to ask his advice about a non-controversial matter that he has some authority in (and you don't): how much RAM you need for your hard drive, for instance.
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