Nobody told you when you had children how personal it would feel when that very same child made a mistake that broke your trust. Nobody told you how much it would hurt your feelings. And, I don’t even know if anyone ever told you how important it would be to let your teen know that trust can be restored!
But let me tell you now! It is imperative that your teenager knows that no matter how big of a mistake or a mess they make, you haven’t slammed the door on them. Sometimes that is really, really hard.
Teenagers have no idea that the decisions they make, good and bad, are absorbed into the very heart of you, their parent. And, as parents, you often give that decision great influence over your confidence as a parent! Let me say this and please hear me. The choices your teenagers make do not define you as a parent! They are your teenager’s choice.
Your job was and has always been to teach them what is right and then give them the freedom to choose. The second part of that same job is to teach them about the consequences of all choices. And when that choice is made in the heat of the moment that is guided by maturing teenage logic and wisdom (or lack thereof), we as a parent need to let that teen know trust can be restored. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but at some point that trust can be brought back to its original condition.
Please take a moment to watch this: https://goo.gl/wuszNI
“How could you hurt me like that?” Have you ever wanted to scream those words in the face of your teen? Or at least murmur them in passing? Although screaming might be somewhat of a stress reducer!
Your teen often has no idea the power that they hold over you to hurt your heart as a parent. That’s why sometimes they don’t understand why you have to take a step back in order to process what they have just done or said that brings you pain.
In order for our teens to learn how to restore trust with us, they also have to learn that sometimes we just need a moment to work through the pain that they just caused us. Anytime something causes pain, our initial reaction is to push away. We can’t do that when it is our teenager causing the pain.
When King David broke trust with God by taking another man’s wife and then killing that same man (I Samuel 11 & 12) God didn’t immediately confront David. I Samuel 11:27 says, “When the time of mourning was over, David sent and brought her (Bathsheba) to his house and she became his wife; then she bore him a son. But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord.” The time of mourning for Jews was at the least 30 days, and it also says that Bathsheba bore David a son by the time the prophet Nathan appeared to tell David what God had to say.
My point in sharing this story with you is to remind you that when your teenager makes a choice that is diametrically opposed to Godly principles you have always taught, you need to take a moment or a day or even longer to work through the anger, the fear, and the sadness of the results of broken trust. You will be better able to help your teen understand that their choices affect so many more people than just themselves. You can teach them how to take responsibility, ask for forgiveness, and recognize how to restore that trust with you. Whether you know it or not, your trust is very valuable to your teen. Have you ever lost something of value? How much more valuable is it to you when you find it again? Don’t you take better care of it?
And so will your teen.
- The definition of restore is “to bring back to the original condition”. What is the condition of trust between you and your teen?
- Tell your teen, “No matter what happens next, I choose you!”
- Where trust is, love can grow.
- The first step in learning to trust again…pray together.
- “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom
- The second step in learning to trust again…listen to each other. Don’t just hear.
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
- Saying “I’m sorry” gives a place for trust to grow.
- The third step in learning to trust again…pray together again. And again. And again.
- It’s okay to mess up. It’s what you do with the mess that matters.
Feel free to forward this email to other parents of teenagers and have them email me if they would like to join our online parenting class.