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!
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?
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?
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