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Learning to Trust Your Teen Again After They Lie

Callum snuck out of the house. He took his parents’ car and went to a party. He got high. He drove home. He found his parents sitting in the kitchen, waiting for him.

If you were Callum’s parent, what would you do? Could you ever trust Callum again? It seems impossible, especially since Callum was caught doing drugs multiple times in the past swearing each time it’d never happen again.

Fool Me Once…

Once he’s broken your trust, it’s extremely difficult to believe in him again. But it’s not impossible. In order to start rebuilding that bridge, you have to take some careful steps.

Here’s five of those steps to get you started:

  • First, you have to answer this question: Will I ever be able to completely trust him again? (Hint, the answer is NO.) He’s an adolescent. It’s his job at this stage in life to push limits and test boundaries. As long as he’s a teen, you can’t trust him 100 percent of the time. Accept that and you’re headed in the right direction.
  • Second, keep an appropriate focus. Try not to react emotionally. Yes, there are many emotions involved, but try not to make these the basis for your next step. You want to be able to act, not react. It’s tempting to take his breach of trust personally. Often, parents view their teen’s behavior as a direct assault on them or as evidence of bad parenting. Stay away from this type of thinking. Your teen made some bad choices. It’s not your fault. And, it’s unlikely that he did it solely just to spite you. With substance abuse, there are almost always other issues going on – mostly within him. With the focus off you, it’s easier to see what should be done for him and how to rebuild trust.
  • Third, establish a plan to rebuild trust in small increments. It’s okay to take it slow. It’s natural for it to take time to construct that bridge once again. And realize that it might never look the same as it did before substance abuse destroyed it. That’s okay, too. You’re working on a new bridge.
  • Fourth, be open to optimism and praise. It’s easy to look for the mistakes. Make the effort to look for positives, too. Let him know when he does something right.
  • Lastly, ensure you have your own support system in place. Your spouse, friends, family, a counselor – you need some type of support to help you through these difficult times.