The 5 Needs Kids Want Parents to Fill

#3 -- Independence/Being Trusted

Isn’t being trusted important to you?  We all desire to be trusted — so do teens.

In my past two posts, we looked at the first 2 of the 5 needs kids want parents to fill: love, affection, and a happy home life and rules/boundaries. Now we will look at the third on their needs list:  independence/being trusted.

Independence is a major theme of the teen years. What we may see as rebellion really isn’t; rather, it is part of every person’s natural struggle for an independent identity. Forming a separate ego identity is THE central developmental task for teens.

Hard as it may be, we must let our minds rule over our emotions. We know what’s going on in those years. Our children are answering for themselves some of life’s BIG questions: Who am I? What life-style should I adopt? What rules will I live by? What attitude will I choose?

The answers to these are forged in the crucible of life, which means it is a struggle involving the competing forces and values they find in their families, peers, school, church, and the pop culture. They will ultimately emerge with their sense of identity, conformity, authority, and responsibility.

Want to help your teen in this process?  Say yes to your teen as often as possible. Think about majoring on the majors before you say no. It means taking change in stride.

Recognize and appreciate the developing independence of your teens. It means honoring the teens’ personal search for values and convictions.

I like Newton’s Law as a principle for parenting: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In short, if I do not respond so strongly to everything my teen does, my teen won’t counter so often or with such gusto. As a dad, we have the responsibility to de-escalate rather than escalate confrontations.

On this road to independence, teens also long to be trusted. They deeply resent not being trusted. Trustworthiness is not something you can give your teen.

But you can provide opportunities to be trusted—starting as early as possible. Most kids will go overboard to earn their parent’s trust.

Children also pick up on attitudes of distrust and suspicion. They’ll think, Okay, if that’s the way Dad thinks I am, I might as well be that way.

So the bottom line is trust them to make their own decisions — as often as possible.

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