9 Ways to Regain Parents’ Trust

Making a mistake doesn’t feel good. But as a teen, it feels worse when it leads to the loss of trust from parents. After all, parents play an essential, positive role in a teen’s life. Teens benefit emotionally and physically from knowing their parents love and trust them. So, if you’ve done something that’s impacted your parents’ trust in you, start earning it back now. Good communication is key in re-establishing your trustworthy status. Here are nine ways to begin the process of regaining your parents’ trust. (Hint: Most work for parents as well!)

  1. Start with an apology. While everyone makes mistakes, a sincere apology is a great place to start in regaining trust. Admit and acknowledge what you did wrong. Restate it so your parents know you understand what you’ve done. Ask for forgiveness. It’s okay to forgive yourself as well. Follow up with an explanation of how you hope to avoid repeating your mistake.
  2. Ask your parents this question. “What can I do that would help you trust me again?” It seems simple, but it may feel hard to ask. When you do, speak from the heart and show you’re genuine about your intentions. Be prepared to hear their response. Depending on the situation, your parents may not have an answer ready. If that’s the case, give them time to think about it and get back to you later.
  3. Use “I” statements in your responses. Conflict and arguments often begin with the word “you.” It’s a word that can feel accusatory. “You are so…” or “You did this!” tend to escalate the situation. Try, instead, starting your conversation with the word “I.” The “I” statement gets your point across without heightening tension. It prevents a defensive response and can activate their compassion. Try instead, “I felt this…” or “I experienced this….” Doing so may even get them to apologize for making you feel a certain way. Learn more about “I” statements and sample scripts to get conversations started in  Congrats–You’re Having a Teen!”
  4. Listen to each other. Being a good listener is important for both parents and teens. You do not have to agree with each other. You just have to agree to hear each other. Good listening helps ensure more meaningful conversations and productive relationships. So, listen to your parents during discussions and let them know it is important that they show a willingness to listen to you as well. If you’re unsure or confused about something they’ve said, tell them and ask them to clarify.
  5. Ask for your parents’ opinions. When you show that you value each other’s opinions, you’ll better trust each other’s intentions. That will increase feelings of security in your relationship. You want the best for each other, so ask your parents how they feel about the issue as a step toward rebuilding trust. In return, your parents should ask your opinion on the issue too.
  6. Strategize together. Work with your parents to come up with a plan you both agree on to help earn back trust. Together, lay out the potential consequences of your mistakes. Try to establish consequences that offer opportunities to learn from those mistakes. Consider putting your strategy into a responsibility contract.
  7. Keep your promises. Only make a promise if you intend on keeping it. Breaking a promise could further your parents’ concerns. Yes, sometimes things happen that may force you to back out of a promise. But if that happens, be honest with your parents about why. And make sure it doesn’t become a regular occurrence.
  8. Spend more time with your parents. By spending more time with your parents and family, they will have a chance to see your strengths. And they’ll be so busy enjoying their time with you that they won’t be thinking about the other ways you may spend your time. Show them you can act responsibly and carry through with your actions, including chores and other less desirable tasks. It’s also a good time to show them you care about others. You can demonstrate this by offering to help when needed and showing empathy when it’s called for.
  9. Follow the “house rules.” Many parents have established rules that they expect to be followed when you’re living at home. Demonstrate that you respect them and their choices even if you may personally prefer to do things differently. Mind their boundaries. There will be plenty of time to do things your way when you are no longer living in their home. If there are things your parents don’t want you to do, try to avoid doing them.

It can take time to recover another’s trust after it’s been broken. But trust goes both ways. Show your parents you trust them, and they’ll be encouraged to trust you in return. Doing what you can to help ease one another’s concerns will help increase confidence in your relationship.

A healthy, cooperative relationship benefits both parents and teens. So, make that type of relationship a life goal. Showing your parents a willingness to make positive changes in small and big ways will help you rebuild trust, get your relationship back on track, and strengthen it into the future.

About Eden Pontz

Eden Pontz is Executive Producer and Director of Digital Content for CPTC. She oversees digital media content development and production for Parentandteen.com. She also writes, copyedits, and produces articles, podcasts, and videos for the site. Her pieces cover a range of topics including teen development, peer pressure, and mentoring. Eden brings years of experience as a former Executive Producer of Newsgathering at CNN, as well as a field producer, writer, and reporter for CNN and other news organizations.

Read more articles by this author

Get our weekly newsletter for practical tips to strengthen family connections.