Trust Is Built Over Time

Good morning and Happy New Year friends! Coach LeAnne here! We are into the final half of the first month in 2023. How is it going so far? It’s a new year, faced with many challenges, opportunities, choices, and transitions. Committing to live life on purpose, and within the power of God encourages us to cling to His promises.

This month I enjoyed time with all 7 of my precious grandchildren and their courageous parents. Let’s keep it real here. No matter what our children’s age, it’s not easy being a parent. It requires a tremendous amount of grit, grace, generosity, and prayer. I remember waking so many mornings as a younger mom in self-doubt, insecurities, and closing out some days, asking God if I was ruining my kiddos. Well, friends, here we all are in the second chapter of life, still standing. Praise the Lord. We are not perfect by any means, yet covered by grace, forgiveness, love and understanding.

Kudos to my adult children as well as the rest of you readers who are raising up the next generation for Christ. We are walking with you and cheering you on!

Question:

My 13-year-old son has lied to us and disobeyed us on multiple occasions by sneaking phones into his room and looking at inappropriate content. Needless to say, he has broken our trust. How can he rebuild that trust? Are there any milestones we can set with him? 

LeAnne’s Answer:

Thank you so much for trusting us with your question. Your vulnerability is a gift to many here. Sneaky behavior such as lying, stealing, and willful disobedience are some of the hardest issues for parents to deal with. When your son sneaks around, it can feel like a betrayal and begins to feel like a moral failure. The fact that you are here to seek support on this important issue speaks of the love and concern you have for your son.

Friend, I believe that you have two problems: one is the viewing of inappropriate material online, and the second issue is the breaking of your trust, which is the most important aspect of a healthy relationship.

You asked “How can we help him rebuild that trust? The magic word here is “WE”. It will be an effort that will require ownership, commitment, collaboration, and consistency by everyone.

Ownership – Trust and Safety are the two most important aspects of a healthy relationship, whether between married couples or parents and their children.

The truth is, teens will most likely break trust with their parents, at least once in a while. I pray that fact will help you accept your sons’ limitations without enabling his misbehavior. Please do not take it personally when he betrays you. Believing that he will eventually become trustworthy can give you encouragement so that you will persevere in teaching critical character elements to your son.

Most likely you will have to teach the concept many times as opportunities arise. Your son may slip and trip quite a few times before he is able to integrate trustworthiness into his character and behavior on a reliable and consistent basis.

Commitment, for you dear one: Rebuilding trust will call you into levels of grit, grace, and gratitude. Grit to hold the line, establish boundaries, and determination to become the parent you are proud of each day. Grace to show patience to yourself and him as you learn a new normal and release unhealthy relationship patterns. Gratitude to the Lord that you have this time with your son to parent him through the hard stuff while he is young and teachable. What do you want to say about your parenting as you walk through this current challenge?

You get to decide the type of parent you would like to be. This kind of follow-through will require support, love, and reflection. The teen years are just beginning- I call it the messy middle. When stuff with your son is spinning out of control on the outside, who will you be on the inside?

Commitment, for your teen. Rebuilding will call him into grit, grace, and gratitude. 

Grit- he must own that he has broken trust, and admit he has sinned.

He must understand the cost of broken trust. Grace, he must want to rebuild. Rebuilding trust cannot be forced. He must realize that his actions have consequences.

Trust exists on a continuum. There is a whole range between two endpoints: full trust and no trust. Please do some research, there are computer programs that can be installed to keep our children safe on the web. Porn/content blockers are available, and oftentimes necessary in this digital age. We are all just one click away from inappropriate content.

Gratitude, your son won’t like it when you confront sneaky behavior. He may resent being caught or being suspected of the behavior. He won’t appreciate the uncomfortable conversations and consequences that follow. That’s okay. By doing so, you are doing your job. Pause, be calm, and clear about the misbehavior and the consequences. Coach him to healthier ways of spending his time, talents, and energy.

Milestones: If you’re too strict or authoritarian, you may be overly controlling and zap his individuality. It will limit your son to a narrow path and he won't get the opportunity to learn and grow. Create moments for him to practice making wise decisions. As a result, he will learn to overcome the struggle with impulsiveness and look for opportunities of integrity in many areas of life. You are strong enough to guide and protect him. Put the emphasis on connecting. The goal is to empower him to succeed in life whether you’re in the room with him or not. Celebrate with your son when he makes wise and honorable decisions.

Talking endlessly isn’t the answer. Many teen boys find this super awkward. Plan some structured activities that you know he’ll do and where you can have positive times together. Let go of the pressure to have deep and meaningful conversations. Just have some fun. Something like bowling, where little talking is needed, and you’re all concentrated on a common “something else ”. Little steps of healthy connection, create huge wins.

Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

The messy middle has always been a challenge, today’s social climate can make the task seem especially daunting. The internet is full of temptations. Inappropriate content is everywhere.

God understands. That’s one reason he inspired the apostle James to write. “If any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to you. James 1:5.

Beloved Reader, how have you helped your teen overcome the temptation to lie, sneak, and hide from truth? How do you rebuild broken trust?

10 Comments

  1. Sarah (can’t use my real name) on January 19, 2023 at 9:19 am

    So glad you are acting on this now. In addition to monitoring software, I’d get your son to talk to a counselor/therapist about the dangers of pornography and why he chooses to view pornography.. He will likely go deeper and deeper if he doesn’t learn a different coping mechanism. He may trade this coping mechanism for a different one like drugs.. LeaAnne referred to it as sin. It is, and it’s so very important to get to the root cause so your son can develop tools to stop. After he is 18 you’ll have less influence to help him get help. Putting time and money with someone trained in trauma/CSAT is a valuable investment, plus your seriousness about how you handle it it will show him this is much more dangerous than he understands. Faithful and True has free podcasts that may be helpful to you and your husband in understanding how to best help your son. Andy Stanley has a free video series Love, Sex and Dating (Northpoint Church) that is excellent and entertaining. Capstone Therapy Center has free online resources. All are Christ-focused and have been very helpful to our family. Help your son find a different diversion besides being in his room alone with a phone or computer. I encourage you to seriously look into trauma that may cause this behavior. Dealing with it now may save him from other addictions and strengthen your family. We’re untangling a lot right now in our family- how I wish we had addressed it early instead of thinking it was ‘normal’. It is harmful. He may not participate in therapy now, but I’d make him go several times. Even if he doesn’t engage now, at least he’ll have more information on how this affects his brain and his future and he may get help later when he starts to feel the consequences of poor choices. Pornography can lead to sexting which can get him kicked out of school and in some cases prison time. These young men and many parents think this is a normal ‘rite of passage’ that will pass. Instead sometimes it goes much deeper and will affect his future. His relationship with God is critical, and pornography hurts that. This can affect his future if he intends to get married on day. Help him see the likely consequences if he doesn’t learn better choices for dealing with stress or anxiety.

    • LeAnne Parsons on January 19, 2023 at 7:34 pm

      Sarah,
      Thank you for courageously sharing here. There are some wonderful trauma informed resources, therapists, and programs, safe guards that will assist families to navigate broken trust, addictions, and inappropriate behavior. Our Lord is faithful to walk with each of us into all truth. It takes being fully committed and not just interested in addressing these heart issues to see victory. Let’s go all in!

  2. Dot on January 19, 2023 at 10:50 am

    When our son was that age, I noticed he would open up best to talk when I was driving him in the car, just us, on trips of a half hour or more. He did the initiating on topics he was struggling with.Maybe it helped that I wasn’t looking at him. And he didn’t have other distractions. (No cell phones back then) See if he opens up on cell-phone free drives if you can.

    • LeAnne Parsons on January 19, 2023 at 7:36 pm

      Dot,
      Thanks for chiming in. Cellphone free drive time with your kiddos. I love that strategy. I too enjoyed drive time with my children. It’s precious, and can be creatively approached to build connection.

    • Sunny on January 19, 2023 at 9:08 pm

      @ Dot, I have heard that men communicate better when they are shoulder to shoulder with someone, as opposed to face to face. So what you said about the car ride makes sense.

  3. Ann on January 19, 2023 at 7:27 pm

    God is so good. I have been praying for the
    very wisdom you mentioned after discovering my daughter was hiding inappropriate material at my Mom’s house and this email came in my inbox!
    The way I found it was so coincidental it could only be God ordained – he really loves our kids and shows us what we need to know. Thankfully she was willing to talk about it and owned the problem right away and is already making moves to rebuild trust. I am now looking for material to help her. Does anyone have recommendations for material for girls?

    • LeAnne Parsons on January 19, 2023 at 7:39 pm

      Hello Ann,
      So grateful to hear the Lord used this post to encourage you. So thankful your daughter is opening up to you. What type of resources and support are you looking for?
      I often share with my coaching clients that the teacher appears when the student is ready!

  4. Stefanie (not my real name either) on January 21, 2023 at 4:07 pm

    I found the BrIain, Heart, World documentaries on the “Fight the New Drug” website to be particularly useful… I even showed one of them to my boys age 9, 12, and 15 (please preview them to make sure you are comfortable and think your children are ready for the content). The documentaries include testimonies from young women who have struggled with pornography as well.

    I find this topic to be poignant since my husband used porn from a young age and I’ve seen how it has been terribly destructive in our marriage. I don’t want that for my kids as they grow and marry someday.

    • LeAnne Parsons on January 22, 2023 at 8:51 am

      Thank you for sharing Stephanie, I am so glad you are here with us in this space.
      There is so much destructive and inappropriate content at each turn. We need all hands in to fight this drug. Our brains, our hearts, our relationships and our spirits can be impacted is so many harmful ways. The time is now to have the hard and necessary conversations.

  5. Christina on February 1, 2023 at 10:54 am

    With boys shoulder to shoulder time is so important. A wise older Mama told me they held off allowing their children to get a driver’s license. They would have permits and would drive any place they were going, but the parent had to come with them, allowing for sweet and uninterrupted conversations. Once the teen can drive him/herself to practices, school, etc, that car time is gone. I realize this is not always practical, but it was a helpful reminder to me as we navigated teenage years with boys.

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