Parenting: What They Won't Tell You, and Why

Keeping secrets is a sign of growth. Here's how to help--and how not to

There is no single moment when it starts, but the change is unmistakable. Your son looks at you differently, or doesn't want to look at you much at all. Your daughter is embarrassed by you, and her voice changes when she receives a cell-phone call. She walks away and glances back suspiciously, as if you were trying to hear something you shouldn't. These are signs not of shallowness or rudeness (though 13-year-olds can be rude) but of a new ability to think about the world in a complex, intensely personal way.

Gradually, every parent becomes aware that his or her child...