How To Build Trust In A Relationship With Your Teenager?
A major issue faced by adolescents is to convince their parents that they are no longer children and that they moved to a new stage of their development, closer to maturity than childhood. Often, parents treat the teenager as a child, not taking into consideration that, actually he`s right to want to make this own decisions, and that no matter if they are good or bad decisions, he`ll learn to take responsibility for them.
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Why Should You Offer Your Teenager Your Trust?
Of course, looking now at the moments when we were teenagers, we surely see lots of moments in which we take the worst decisions we possibly can and want to go back in time with the mind we now have. However, there are 2 things that we ignore: the fact that among those moments that we are sorry about, there were other moments that we enjoyed quite a lot, but also that those moments helped build the person we are today, being easily added to life experiences from which we learned. Moreover, if we look a bit at the moment from the present, we may notice that we are still making mistakes, at least from time to time and perhaps and perhaps with the mind that we`ll have in 20 years, we`ll consider our choices now to be quite stupid.
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These are normal stages in life, otherwise the proverb “Who doesn`t have an old man, he should buy one” wouldn`t been invented. Still, how to you think the old man from the proverb has become so wise? It isn’t precisely his own mistakes that now allow him to offer advice to others?
So first of all, you should offer your teenager your trust, especially because this is the way you prepare him to later address the issues that he`ll find in life and find a solution.
Let`s use a metaphor for you to better understand: try to imagine someone who all his life lived in one room under the protection of guards. How do you think he`ll react when going out of the room and meeting the outside world? Won`t this man be scared and won`t probably know how to manage even the most common situations that for us would seem rather simple? So, instead of letting your teenager to take his own decisions and be there for him ready to support him in case he slips, you spoil him and try to take the decisions in his place in order to protect him or forbidden his right to freedom.
And, if you aren`t yet convinced that you should offer your teenager complete confidence, there are lots of other reasons to convince you, but probably the most important one is the psychological one. – Check this!
In a teenager`s psyche who grows surrounded by the lack of trust of his parents, there`s a seed implanted that he`ll eventually become a bad weed of which ugly roots will affect their whole lives. These questions are important for him: “Why don`t they trust me?” “Maybe I`m not good enough to deserve them?”. And even if in front of you, he`ll struggle to show you that he deserves your trust, in his subconscious this question will get bigger proportions and your actions will come as a confirmation of the answer that maybe you won`t believe it either. In one word, each time when you`ll show him, not only to your teenager, but also to a younger child, that you don`t trust what he thinks, you`ll send him the message: “Yes, you aren`t good enough for me to trust you!” Do you really want this? We are convinced that you don`t, because the lack of appreciation of the parents have hard consequences on an adult.
Why Do We Feel We Cannot Really Trust Our Teenager?
Although what you are about to read in the following lines will be tougher to accept, but you can be sure that it`s all true. If you would be told that this is a 100% selfish need, you maybe would reject the idea that your distrust is entirely your fault and that`s why we should explain the process by which it appears.
We wouldn`t know that some of the decisions of our teenagers can be wrong, if we wouldn`t experienced ourselves the power of the wrong decisions. That`s why, in our souls we feel fear for them not to repeat our mistakes. This may be the first possible reason for which we don`t trust our adolescents. Still, the issue – the conflict – appears from the fact that we educated these children exactly in the way so that they would avoid doing our mistakes. So, to say that you are afraid about what your teenager might do is another way of saying that they education that you offered to him is wrong, right? And we know that our subconscious lets us to think we are wrong only when the results are indeed incontestable, and even then there`s room for a little doubt. In this case, what exactly is the issue?
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The real issue isn`t in the fear that your adolescent wouldn`t be able to think well and take good decisions, but rather that when he knows he can take the right decisions on his own, he`ll no longer need us as he needed us until this moment. We would become dispensable persons, who with time passing will no longer have control over him, and little by little the moment when he`ll leave home approaches, a moment when we`ll remain alone. In one word, the fear of loneliness as well as losing control are the reasons that won`t let us trust in what we raised and modeled.
What Can We Do?
If you didn`t get annoyed yet and closed this page when you found out that not your teenager, but your own fear are the ones that won`t let you offer the confidence that your teenager needs, then surely you are one step closer to a healthy solution of the situation, even if you aren`t yet convinced that we are right. That`s why we`ll use a few common situations and we`ll tell you which are the solutions for them, so that you can reduce the tensions in your family.
- I don`t trust that my teenager will be able to build a beautiful and good life. First, what does it mean “beautiful” or “good?” These 2 notions are very relative from one person to another, and that`s why maybe what you understand by “beautiful” or “good” isn`t the same as what your teenager understands from these 2 terms. Probably, if he would understand these 2 concepts as you do, then this issue wouldn`t exist, right?
Sooner or later, each person makes his life as he wants no matter if what parents want. Then, why shouldn’t this happen sooner than later? Why should my child “miss the train” in the attempt of following your dreams and not follow his own dreams?
- I think his friends may influence him to do bad things. This is completely understandable, however, if you trust the education that you gave him, why worry what he won`t be able to take the right decisions and would be easily influenced? Don`t you think you are easily influenced yourself and are afraid that he`ll be like you? Far from the specific questions that a psychologist would ask you, we try to tell you that teenagers are hard to be influenced exactly from the desire to be independent, unique, and that`s why the power of his entourage is often quite small and you shouldn`t worry so much.
- My teenager is only a child and cannot really take better decision than I can for him. You are wrong! Your teenager is exactly in the period between childhood and being an adult even from puberty. What he learns now is quite valuable for the moment when he`ll need to solve issues on his own. Access to info allows your adolescent to learn a lot more than we could learn and also find solutions much easier than in our times. Of course, you maybe could take better decisions thanks to your experience, but your teenager needs to start building his own experience as soon as possible.
Following this idea, all you can do is to present consistent pros and cons that would support the decision you would make if you were in his place. Still, the final decision would have to be taken by him, because he would be the one affected.
- My adolescent has been wrong in the past and I`m afraid not to be wrong again. Think about it for a second, when you are wrong at work and your boss warns you, you would probably try to be more careful next time to show him that you make mistakes only by chance. It`s completely natural to be wrong sometimes and is part of human nature no matter the age. Even you are now sometimes wrong if you think about it for a second, right?
It`s the same thing in the case of your teenager. After making a major mistake, he`ll try to show you that he`s able to avoid making other mistakes and he`ll look to find that you understand this. By the fact that you think that if he was wrong once, he`ll be wrong again, which is indeed a logical assumption, you do nothing more than accentuating his insecureness and not letting him to learn how to forgive himself. As long as you knew how to outline the consequences of a mistake and explain how this affects him as well as how to avoid doing more mistakes, you should trust that he won`t make any more mistakes. If you think he`ll repeat them, then you don`t really trust in the way you explain to him this, and if he still repeats them, then you didn`t knew how to explain in his own meaning.
- I don`t usually trust people. Yes, this is perfectly understandable, especially if you had a lot of people letting you down. But your teenager isn`t just any person out there; he`s a person you brought into this world, raised him and educated him. He`s a person who feels a strong bond with you, and who unlike other people, he knows that no matter what would happen, family is always there for you. Just as you won`t do anything to put your family in danger knowingly, he wouldn`t do anything to let you down.
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The solutions to all these situations is a healthy communication between the members of the family and a strong friendship, more than an authoritarian relationship, as most parents would want to have with their children. A teenager is no long a small child who is helpless and unable to think for himself. That`s why you should start thinking of him as an adult and not as someone you still need to look after.