Hoefle strongly encourages parents to take on the mindset of a scientist and ask a "series of open-ended questions" to encourage their teen to open up.
How and where to have the talk
Equally important, said Hoefle, is understanding how your teens like to communicate -- whether it be while cooking dinner, driving in the car or in a quiet place with zero distractions.
"How to set up the environment that best supports your child is really important," she said.
Stephanie True Fix, a mom of two in South Portland, Maine, said quick car trips tend to be a successful way to get a little bit of information from her children.
"Teenagers may call that a trap, but I call it parental opportunity," said the single mom of two teenagers.
For Carolyn Austin-Haase, a mom of four ages 16 to 26 in Princess Anne, Maryland, the dinner table has been the best place to get her children to unload.
"We have talked about everything under the sun," she said. "Sex, penises, pubic hair, bowel movements, periods, drugs, masturbating, pregnancy, birth control. Our dinner table is not for the faint of heart."
What just about every parent I spoke with and parenting expert Vicki Hoefle stress is that parents need to start early -- well ahead of the teen years.
"You can't wait until your kids are teenagers and quit talking to you to work on the relationship," said Austin-Haase. "It must be done early on."