How much can you trust teenagers?

Parents of teenagers often wonder how much they can trust their children. Every teenager is, of course, different, and how you feel about this largely depends on what has happened before. Nor does it have to be your teenager you’re worried about, so much as the sort of situation that can develop around your child. The best thing you can do is to talk to your teenager and show them that you care.

TELL THEM HOW YOU FEEL

Being the parent of a teenager can mean swinging between hope and despair. One moment, everything seems to be fine and you can trust your child, and the next, you suddenly feel uncertain or disappointed in them. That’s completely normal, but not talking about it is a problem. Silence can be a major barrier to a close relationship and can create suspicion on the part of both the child and the adult.

Teenage boy with his hand covering his face.
Photo: Pablo Frisk

My parents can always tell if I'm lying, so there's no point in even trying.

Dennis, aged 15, Örebro

STRAIGHT ANSWERS

If your child tells you something spontaneously, it’s probably true. If you have to drag the information out of them, you’ll get a censored version. If you’ve encouraged your child to feel safe in telling you anything and assured them that you’re there to listen, you’re laying the best possible foundations for getting straight answers. 

TRUST YOUR FEELINGS

You can usually tell when something’s not right. Tell your child that you are a little doubtful that what they’ve told you is actually true. Yes, there’s a risk that you child will be angry with you, but in the majority of cases, that feeling you’re getting is usually accurate. And if it isn’t, at least you’ve been honest about your feelings.

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

ACCEPT THAT YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO KNOW EVERYTHING

Many parents want full insight into their teenagers’ lives, but being told everything is a lot to ask. Teenagers need to be allowed to keep some things private. The important thing is that they feel that they can tell you an uncomfortable truth without being judged or yelled at.   

More to read about the same topic

Useful contacts and more info

It can sometimes be good to talk to someone who knows a bit more about teenagers and alcohol, or about anything else, for that matter.

If you want to do more

There’s a lot you can do to support and be there for teenagers. Maybe you can take part in night-time patrols, or make it easier for them to say “no”, or help promote a smarter approach to alcohol in some other way.

Other important topics to read about

When parents are not around

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