As you're casting about for something you can both agree on, don't take rejection of your ideas personally. Your teen will knock some of them just as a power exercise. Don't give up. The offer alone is a connection. If you keep striking out with big plans, start small, with ice cream, a movie, or dinner out. Above all, be creative.

Even if that means, as in Michael Bradley's case, that you have to provide incentives - aka bribes - to get your teen to go along. Bradley rented a convertible for his son to drive through California - with Dad in tow, of course. Such tricks are fair play, but don't be too pushy. If you have to force your teen into that car, your fantasy weekend could turn into a nightmare.

Taking a trip together isn't the only way to foster bonding time. Be open to your teen's ideas, even, perhaps especially, about activities you wouldn't normally do. "I play Ping-Pong with my son, even though it's not my favorite activity," says Cohen-Sandler, "and I hate the mall, but that is where my teenage daughter wants to go."

Volunteering is another way to put you both on level ground and to create shared memories, even if it's not something exotic like an Earthwatch trip. Be open to what is meaningful to your teen (say, saving turtles) rather than to you (art museum), and don't push too hard. You don't have to build houses; maybe your kid just wants a local skatepark. Offer to help him start a petition or visit city officials.

Develop rituals like sharing a Saturday morning breakfast or a Friday night pizza, or reading the morning comics together. Repetitive events are very centering, and while teens may act like they don't like it, the experts say they do. Trust them, they're experts.