Raising teens present many challenges. How much do you trust them? How much leeway do you give them? How much opportunity do you give them to learn from their own actions?
It is a balance, I guess. You want them to earn your trust but also give them the opportunity to earn it. If you give them no room, then you will never know how much you can trust them.
Teens need to stand up and take responsibility, as well. Being honest in what happened, no matter what the outcome, is a key way that trust is earned. Hiding decisions or being vague about what is going on just raises questions. Teens can earn trust by trusting their parents and others by being upfront with their actions.
Developing as a teen and growing as a parent of a teen is a shift for all. Talking honestly seems like it would help, but getting there is always the challenge. While teens need to be willing to talk to adults honestly, parents need to have the ability to listen, be patient, and discuss things with stable emotions.
The old Reagan adage of “trust but verify” can apply here, but the verification cannot be viewed as just another way to distrust. Maybe the teen adage should be “trust but engage” to build a deeper sense of responsibility on both sides – youth and adults.