As if the skyrocketing food bills and inability to roust teens before noon weren't tough enough for their parents, then comes the challenge of keeping open the lines of communication.

Oh, and just in case you aren't worried enough about why you need to keep talking with your teen, you've got child-development experts like Gordon Neufeld and Dr. Gabor Mat-co-authors of "Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers"-to really crank up the fear factor. "At its most extreme," they write, "our children's weakened connection with adults provides a powerful explanation for schoolyard bullying, teenage gangs, and growing high school violence."

I'll never look at a surly, silent teen the same after reading that book.

So what's a parent to do? Bottom line: Don't shut up.

That's what Neufeld and Mat advise. More importantly, that's what two of the most communicative Central Ohio moms I know say, too.

Carolyn Ferroni not only has three kids, ages 15 to 21, but she's also the youth minister for St. Mary Church in Delaware, working-and talking-with hundreds of young people for the last 15 years. For her, communication salvation came via MTV. "That was the door to communication," Ferroni said. "I started listening to the music and watching 'Real World' and even 'Gossip Girl.' At first I thought this stuff was going to kill me, but I stayed in there with the culture because it gave me a way to start talking."

Kathy McCann Wilson of Columbus has homeschooled all four of her children, now ages 16 through 23, and they're all still talking with her.

"It's not like I'm the cool mom," Wilson said. "But it is about respect and expecting them to respond to you. They also know I'm not above calling another parent, so they know they might as well as tell me what's bothering them because I will find out."

Talking With Teens
Local moms Carolyn Ferroni and Kathy McCann Wilson share their tricks

•Don't let a bad mood throw you. "I'll wait until they get out of the mood, but then I'll talk to them right away," Ferroni says.

•Don't be afraid to initiate most of the conversation. "There's so much to catch their attention with the iPod, the TV and Facebook," Ferroni says, "so they'd be too busy to talk if I didn't start it."Stay ready to capitalize on the quiet moments when teens initiate talk: "It's usually in the car or late at night," Ferroni says. "Don't ever be too busy to not take advantage of that."

•Never read their diaries and make sure they know you won't.

•Never go to bed angry: "I'll follow them into their room if that's what it takes to get something resolved," Wilson says.