How much can you trust teenagers?

Parents of teenagers often wonder how much they can trust their children. A lot of teenagers will, undoubtedly, withhold some information from their parents, but you shouldn’t assume that young people are lying. Every teenager is, of course, different and the extent to which you can trust your specific teenager largely depends on what has happened before. The best thing you can do is to talk to your teenager and show consideration.

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

Straight answers

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.

More to read about the same topic

Teenagers and alcohol

There are many considerations that can easily arise when your child becomes a teenager. But first and foremost: how do young people think about drinking themselves? And why is it more dangerous to drink alcohol in adolescence than as an adult?

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

Take responsibility

Maybe you sometimes feel pretty helpless as a parent. But there’s a lot you can do. As always showing that you care, that you’re there and that you are happy to listen. And often it’s important to be clear about what you expect of your teenager.

If parents are not around

Festivals, home parties and trips abroad are examples of situations where adults are rarely present. There are some pitfalls that you, as a parent, should be aware of and that you can teach your teenager how to handle.

Yes or no?

The clearer you communicate your expectations, the easier it is for your teenager to take a stand or do what you say. Also, think about what sort of message and values you’re conveying to your child.

The teenage years

The teenage years are a very special time in your child’s life. Teenagers are navigating the frontier lands between childhood and adulthood and there are a lot of new things to handle: school, friends, being allowed to stay out late, sex, parties and – not least – alcohol.

Teenager’s drinking habits

Not only is it illegal to buy alcohol for young people, but most adults think that alcohol is something teenagers should be avoiding. So where are teenagers getting their alcohol? How much do they drink? And what sort of problems do young people experience in connection to alcohol?

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