TRUST is a huge issue between parents and teens.
On the one hand they are our children and need rules and consequences. They need active parenting. On the other hand, they require increasing amounts of freedom and the chance to create their own identity and live their own lives.
It's a constant conundrum and probably one of the major challenges to raising teens.
Teens need to know that they are trusted. We need to believe that we have raised them to know the difference between right and wrong and that we can let them go without constant surveillance. It is actually more difficult to trust our kids today because we have the technology to keep better track of them. But, we should not be using it.
The best way to let our kids know that we trust them is to tell them. Come right out and simply say the words.
When we let our teens make decisions for themselves they start to experience the independence they are working toward and will need if they are going to become capable young men and women. They need to separate from us. That need is so essential that if we don't allow them to assert their independence they are likely to rebel. It simply makes more sense to allow our teen to choose her own CD and which movie to watch than to be dealing with a child who may rebel by using drugs or shoplifting.
When our children are going out for an evening it's not a good idea to grill them on every little detail. But, we do need to know where they are going, whom they will be with and how they are getting home. Those three questions are basic. But when we continue with a barrage of questions about every little detail they become frustrated and angry and believe we don't trust them at all.
The same is true when we grill them after they get home. Often it's not about trust, it's simple curiosity. But it's best to just welcome them home and let them decide what to tell you and what to withhold.
Allowing teens to make decisions is another way to demonstrate your trust. Let them determine when they will do their homework or when they are tired and ready for bed.
The more we demonstrate that we trust our teens the more they will be trustworthy because they won't want to let us down.
I have heard parents say that their teens need to earn their trust. When you do that you are giving them the message that you believe that it is likely that they are fundamentally untrustworthy and they must prove themselves to you before you will trust them.
It should be the absolute opposite. Your teen needs to know with certainty that you trust him.
You let her know that you trust her, and you let her make more of her own decisions. You do not ask too many questions either before or after an event and you are not constantly checking up on her while she's away.
As long as they come home on time and you have heard no reports of any trouble, trust that they are behaving in a way that is positive and trustworthy.
Everybody makes mistakes and teens are no exception.
They may break the trust. The first step is to realize that this is not something they did to you - it's not personal. It is simply an error and should be treated as such.
Deal with this situation, talk to him about why it is a problem and why there needs to be consequences.
But then life will go on and he will again be your trustworthy child.
Bottom line, teens who are trusted by caring parents generally behave in ways that are correct and appropriate.
Kathy Lynn is a professional speaker and author of Who's In Charge Anyway? and But Nobody Told Me I'd Ever Have to Leave Home. If you want to read more, sign up for her informational newsletter at parentingtoday.ca.