Getting Your Parents to Trust You After Making a Mistake
You messed up, so now what?
Whether or not what you did to disappoint your parents was on purpose or unplanned, it is important to face the result. Trust takes a long time to build and re-establishing trust once its been broken requires effort.
Earning trust and gaining independence are directly connected. If you want to have your independence, it’s important to show your parents why you deserve their trust.
Acknowledge Your Mistakes
A first step towards regaining trust is to acknowledge your mistakes. Discuss your thought process and how, after thinking about it, you realized you should have made a different decision. Harness the power of an apology!
It may be helpful to explain your intentions and where you think you might have gone wrong. It shows maturity.
Once you’ve admitted to your mistakes, the hard work begins. Now it’s time to show your parents you are actively working to make better choices. If your mistake was a one-time thing, show your parents how you will avoid repeating it. Tell them your plan. Let your actions show your commitment to making a change.
Put Yourself in Your Parents’ Shoes
Though acknowledging your mistake should help, it may not stop your parents from worrying. Your parents may need time to regain their calm if your actions were particularly concerning or dangerous. Your parents worry because they want to keep you safe. Allow them the time they need to forgive you and understand it may take time to fully regain their trust.
Tips to Regain Trust
Consider these tips as you work to regain your parents’ trust.
- Plan your conversations strategically. Talk with them at a calm and comfortable time and place. Make sure your parents aren’t dealing with their own stress and that everyone is relaxed when they enter the conversation.
- Make your intentions clear. Be up front about them.
- Admit you made a mistake and want to work to regain your parents’ trust. An apology goes a long way.
- Work together with your parents to come up with a strategy you both agree on to regain trust. Understand that there may be consequences to your actions. If the consequences they’ve given feel more like a punishment and less like an opportunity to learn from your mistake, discuss this with your parents.
- Demonstrate responsibility to earn back privileges. This means doing what is asked of you, following rules, and living up to your parents’ expectations. Be willing to accept that you have to work for your independence.
- Trusted adults, friends, or siblings can be crucial allies for you. Sometimes, talking through conversations with others can make the situation clearer and help you reflect on the actions you’ve taken. They can help you think through how best to approach your parents.
- Consider seeking outside help if you need support. The relationship with your parents matters. Restoring it to a healthy place is critical. If you are having trouble doing this on your own, talk to your school counselor or a health professional. They’ll help you find the support your family deserves.
Thoughts From Members of the Youth Advisory Board
“Oftentimes the best course of action after losing a parent’s trust is to layout a complete plan of action. This shows that you are committed to making a change from your behavior that caused this mistrust. Always make sure to include an apology in this plan, by apologizing for what you did you are owning up to your mistakes, and therefore are presenting yourself as a mature person who takes full responsibility of their actions.”
“Remember, your parent’s skepticism is stemming from their deep desire to keep you safe and out of harm’s way- don’t blame them for needing time. This may include a pre-discussion time period for family members to cool down from any heightened tensions so that all parties are ready to listen and participate in active discussion. You may come to a consensus on a strategy to regain trust and freedom, after what may seem like a frustrating amount of time. Your job is to allow them time to see progress.”
This article was written by the former chair of our Youth Advisory Board, Sarah Hinstorff, with contributions by Youth Advisory Board members Talia Ginsburg & Raul Rosales. Art by: Samantha Lee.