Tell them how you feel
Being a parent of a teenager can mean swinging between hope and despair. One moment, everything in the garden is rosy and you trust your child. And then the next moment, you feel uncertain or that they’ve let you down. That’s completely normal, but not talking about it is a risk. Silence is the biggest barrier to a close relationship and simply results in suspicion on the part of adult and teenager alike.
I talk to my Mum about everything, so she trusts me. Some things are a bit awkward, but she wants me to be honest.
Tim, aged 16, Umeå
If your teenager tells you something spontaneously, you can be fairly sure that it’s true. If you have to drag the information out of them, by contrast, there’s a much bigger risk that what you’re hearing is the censored version. If you’ve encouraged your child to feel safe in telling you anything at all and assured them that you’re there to listen, you’ve laid the best possible foundations for being told the truth.
Trust your feelings
You can usually tell when something doesn’t sound or feel quite right. Tell your teenager that you’re a little doubtful whether what they’ve told you is actually true. There’s a risk that your son or daughter will get angry, but in the majority of cases, that feeling you’re getting is accurate. And if it isn’t, at least you’ve been honest about your feelings.
My parents can always tell if I'm lying, so there's no point in even trying.
Dennis, aged 15, Örebro
Accept that you’re never going to know everything
Many parents want full insight into their teenagers’ lives, but being told everything is an awful lot to ask. Teenagers also need to be allowed to keep some things private. The important thing is that your teenager knows that he or she can tell you the truth, even when it’s an uncomfortable one, without being judged or yelled at.