You want to be able to trust your teenagers while they’re not with you. You also want your teen to talk with you about things they’re going through and for them to come to you when they have questions. Trusting your teen could open the lines of communication with them.
What exactly is trust and how can it be a door for communication? As parents we are working toward teaching our child to no longer need you. In an effort to help them grow and mature, we expect that we will be able to count on them to be honest with you, that they will do what they say they will, and that they will treat you with respect. What’s interesting is that these are the same things teens want to know about you.
You have to be able to trust your child, their judgment, and their decision-making process before you feel you can truly let them go and believe they will be successful. Unfortunately, being lied to, let down, or allowing fear of the unknown to take hold makes us wonder if our trust was misplaced.
Have you proven ourselves trustworthy as our children have grown up? How many times did you tell them you’d be at a play or basketball game only to be detained, without fault of our own? That erodes their trust in us just as sneaking out of the house to go to a party erodes our faith in them.
Realize that both parents and teens will make mistakes when it comes to being completely trustworthy. That doesn’t mean you give up on the relationship and never trust again. You start out and slowly rebuild the trusting relationship you both want and need.
Even if trust has been broken you need to keep the lines of communication open. Don’t yell and belittle one another to try to make them see your point. Sit down and calmly talk about what happened, how things could have been handled differently, and what must occur to rebuild that trust.
Just as you expect your teen to be honest with you about what they’re doing, where they’ve been, and who they’ve been with, they need you to be honest with them as well. Don’t make promises you may not be able to keep. Listen to what they have to say more than you telling them what you think you know.
Your teen needs to know that you trust them to make good decisions. Give them more responsibilities or freedom, a little at a time, to help them learn some of what will be expected of them as an adult. Let them know that you’re honestly not trying to make their life difficult, you’re trying to teach them the value of being trustworthy which will be of the utmost importance for their future.
While trusting your teen can open the lines of communication, so can love. Be sure to show your child that no matter how they slip up or what they do that you’ll always love them. Let them know that they can come to you regardless of the situation. They need to know that you’ll listen to them, and not judge. You are their parent and you love them.