‘My son [my daughter], be wise, and make my heart glad.’ Proverbs 27:11 NKJV
Here’s a magic bullet that teenagers like to use in order to manipulate their parents: ‘You don’t trust me!’ So we start backpedalling. ‘No, dear, it’s not that I don’t trust you being out with your friends or taking the car, it’s just that I…’ and then we run out of words. We’re on the defensive, and the discussion is over. The truth is that we can trust our children at some things, but not others. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. For example, many of us are authorised to spend our company’s money from certain accounts. But they don’t give us the whole corporate chequebook! So let’s stop being suckered by our kids, and boldly state that trust comes in stages—some of it now, and more later on. Humorist and author Mark Twain joked, ‘When a child turns twelve you should put him in a barrel, nail a lid down and feed him through a knothole. When he turns sixteen, you should seal up the knothole.’ Seriously, there are times when every parent feels this way. But at some point you’ve got to let out the line and begin to trust them. And here are two important things about trust: First, it must be age-appropriate. You should risk only what you can reasonably expect to be handled safely. Second, trust must be earned. Erma Bombeck once quipped that she wasn’t going to pay $2000 to straighten the teeth of a kid who never smiled. What’s going on inside your youngster explains much of what you see on the outside. Relax, better days are coming!