Trust me baby
February 28, 2013 2 Comments
I teach adolescent development and occasionally my students will let me know that a particular lesson really resonated with them for one reason or another. Each lesson seems to get the nod every once in a while and no one lesson seems more profound than the other. Today a student left a comment for me to read about lesson 11 and how important this lesson was for her. The most important piece was the information on trust.
It got me thinking about the first time I had to cross that bridge so to speak and how scary it can seem sometimes.
There was one sentence in the entire 5 chapters (the chapters are small) that stood out and that was the fact that you don’t have to know what is going on all the time. In fact, it’s better if you don’t.
The only way teenagers can learn to be trustworthy with their parents and ultimately learn how to trust themselves is if the parents trust them. There is no other way. But holy leap of faith that can be.
That doesn’t mean you go right from totally controlling the child’s life to total freedom (talk about a set up for disaster) but you do have to start passing over the control and letting them take it and sometimes letting them screw it up (remember, failure is good sometimes). That also means you don’t read their journals unless you truly believe they are suicidal or something else life threatening. You don’t search their rooms unless you truly believe they are smoking cigarettes / dope / drinking booze in there and that’s not an okay thing in your house – and even then, you should do it in front of them and tell them why you’re doing it but you damn well better be sure that you’re going to find something and that it’s not just you being paranoid. Can I also point out that you should know what is in your child’s room but it’s the snooping piece that is the problem. You let your child maintain their privacy and you respect that but it’s fair to demand that you have the passwords to their facebook account or whatever so that you can go in there if you ever need to because something’s gone wrong. Your child will give you the password if they believe you will respect their privacy. If they don’t, they’ll make sure you never know they have an account.
I remember how tough that seemed to be with my oldest. OMG, how on earth could I trust her when she seemed like she couldn’t put a coherent thought in her head other than what her friends were doing / saying / wearing or whatever. I struggled but I did learn the importance eventually. She was mostly trustworthy but she had to finish learning her “good judgment” and a few other things after she left home for school because I just wasn’t quite right at it yet. I learned though. Boy-child and buddy-child have just done fabulous with it and are exceptionally grounded and trustworthy souls.