In addressing the relationship between parents and their teenagers, often the emphasis focuses on helping teens build more trust with their parents. But the truth is that many kids don't trust their parents! What is it that causes teens not to trust their parents? In my experience, most teenagers identify the source of their lack of trust in parents as the result of seeing firsthand that their parents are less than honest with them. Jesus commands His followers, "Simply let your 'yes' be 'yes,' and your 'no' be 'no'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Matthew 5:37.) Let's face facts: no parent is perfect. Still, as parents we are called to live our lives with integrity. Because we serve as our children's role models for life and faith, we need to be very careful in how we live our lives before our kids. Your kids don't need your perfection, they need your honesty, and especially when you fail to follow through on something you said you would do. How can you increase your "honesty" quotient and, as a result, your trust level with your kids?
1. Think before you promise. Ask yourself, "If I make this promise, can I keep my word?"
2. If you can't keep your word, don't promise. It's much better to say, "I'm going to try my hardest to get to your game tomorrow, but I can't promise you I'll make it" and not make it, than to say, "I'll be there for sure!" and not show up.
3. Think before you act. When it occurs to you that you can't keep your word, be sure to evaluate the message it will send your son or daughter. Then, consider how you can minimize the resulting damage if you truly can't keep your verbal commitment.
4. Ask for your child's forgiveness when you fail to keep your word. Don't sweep your failures under the carpet. Face them head on. Apologize and ask for forgiveness.
Honesty and integrity are two vital parts of trust in any relationship. Keeping your word with your kids is always the best policy. When your track record as a parent is one of consistent honesty, trust between you and your teen will grow.