I am an experienced nurse. I started in PDN as a new grad. It was hard at first, but I learned a lot about direct care, doing great assessments and more.
I decided that to succeed with families I was going to need to do some CUSTOMER SERVICE. So I was very friendly. I acted like I TOTALLY agreed with their house rules; yeah some rules are really stupid. I told all of the parents, (when asked about my experience or when I could squeeze it into a conversation) "I know the doctors are trying to do the best for kids but one thing I have learned in nursing is that no one knows a child like their Mom/Dad" I will say that this comment has helped to make my job easier. The parent (usually a Mom) tends to be nicer, more lenient and friendlier. Additionally, I will ask the parents before I leave "Is there anything else that I can do with/for your child that will make your evening/night/day/weekend a little easier for you?" One Mom told me that she liked me from the start because the morning she met me (I was orienting) I said to her "I hope I didn't make noise coming in and wake you."
So yeah, we need to be good nurses, use your common sense, protect your patient and yourself and play the popularity / customer service game.
Read about therapeutic conversation. I use phrases like "that must be so hard for you" or "I can't imagine how difficult that must be for you." toward the parents. They seem to like that someone is sympathizing with them. Also, "If you ever notice that I forget to do something or you do not like the way I do something, please let me know. I am always open to suggestions, I know you have more experience at ______."
Also, I never give much personal info. I keep conversation/chit chat to shallow topics like crafts, food, pets etc...
Here is how I respond to certain topics:
Politics = "Oh, I do not follow that stuff, seems so confusing to me."
Religion = I always respect their beliefs. I try to avoid the topic. If they are Muslim or Jewish or another religion that I am not I will tread very carefully.
Mom/Dad complaining about work/love life/neighbor = "That has to be hard for you to deal with." or "That must be so difficult for you." etc.
Anything else = try not to give negative comments. Was a restaurant terrible? too bad, if they ask say "hmmm it seemed like they might have been having a bad day. I think I would need to try it again to give a true opinion" do not say "oh it was awful! blah blah blah" you want the family to associate you with good things, not negative.