Trust is a two way process and it’s difficult for one person to trust another if the other person is not behaviourally or verbally reliable. There are two essential questions you must ask yourself when it comes to the role of trust in your relationship with your teenager. They are both important, but the second one is critical. They are:
- Does my teen trust me?
2 Do I trust my teen?
As children grow up and become more independent, they start to notice and question more. It’s around this time that your child may notice if you do what you say you will do, which is a key factor in building trust. As a parent, you can’t demand trust, it’s a gradual process that requires mutual commitment. While your teen may trust you to provide food, shelter, and clothes, the story does not end there. Teens also need to trust that mom and dad will be there and react compassionately when they make a mistake, they need mom and dad to spend quality time with them and to not ignore them for work or other responsibilities, they need mom and dad to ask what is going on in their lives and be genuinely interested, they need mom and dad to keep their word, they need to have regular family dinners which can be a good chance for everyone to chat about the day and what’s coming up, they need mom and dad to provide a safe home without constant hostility or arguments, and they need mom and dad to instill discipline. When your child starts a conversation, pause what you’re doing and actively listen to your child, this sends the message that you’re interested in what’s going on in his/her life, getting to know your child’s friends and giving them a space in your home helps you keep in touch with your child’s friendships and relationships without always having to ask. Communicating with the parents of your child’s friends can help create a safe environment for your child and his/her friends, and also, help you keep track of their activities without pressure. All these things demonstrate care and as a result build trust, our children need our trust to help them in their transition to adulthood, and you must not also neglect the fact that they still need our guidance and attention.
The desire for more privacy is a natural part of adolescence. Trust is the key to finding a balance between your child’s need for privacy and your need to know what’s going on. In order to trust your teen to do things and make decisions on their own, you need to accept the fact that they are growing up, they are now at an age where they don’t want their parents doing everything for them or hovering over them all the time. Give your teen space to discover things for themselves, they need to try new things and push their limits in order to gain experience and discover who they really are. Accept that your teen is now a person in their own right and give them the space they need to grow and make mistakes. Be more flexible, your teenager is trying to establish his own identity, separate from you. He wants to be an autonomous individual and take on more responsibilities. Being flexible means being open to negotiation and listening to what your child has to say, for example, if your child wants to get a nose piercing, don’t just refuse them outright, give them a chance to put forward their arguments and then have a reasoned discussion about the pros and cons of such a decision. Being there for your child when they need you is more important than anything else, this will give them the confidence they need to make the right choices which will in turn help you to trust them. Give your teen some privacy, having their own personal space is very important for teenagers, don’t barge into your teen’s room uninvited or stick your nose into their business. Always knock before entering and advise other siblings to do the same. This will prove to your teenager that you trust them and are willing to give them their space. Wanting more privacy and time alone doesn’t necessarily mean your child has something to hide, secrecy goes along with the development of independence. Once you’ve done this, you will find it a lot easier to trust them.
We need to have this in focus that monitoring our children as teens is quite different from when he/she was much younger. You might need to use more sensitivity and discretion.