I've discovered though, my secret weapon: Hair.
I can do it. I find cool styles here there and everywhere (my current fav is Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care) and when we are home and unhurried, I ask if I can try something new on her. And when she is tolerating my "doing,"she talks. A lot. About whatevertheheck is on her mind. And I try reallyreally hard to not interrupt or give unsolicited advice.
You can get a lot of insight into the eleven year old psyche in ten uninterrupted minutes.
And it doesn't hurt that when she feels pretty, she thinks I'm a little bit cool. A teeny, miniscule, bit.
I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I think that when we moms hit on something that is a winner, we owe it to each other to share the good news. I intend to start sharing a lot more. (Please, God, give me insight.)
Here's a nugget I've discovered along these same lines: she is much more responsive to "Hey, I have some time, can I try something on your hair?" than she is to, "Wow, your hair looks like mice nested in it. Find a brush for goodness' sake."
I know that's a Well, Duh, but it is sometimes a daily decision for me to choose between those lines of speaking.
What's your secret weapon for keeping the lines of communication open with your tween?