KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Four common words or phrases that parents often use often kill communication with teens, according to family psychologist Dr. Wes Crenshaw. The first one? Trust.
Parents and children, especially teenagers, sometime seem to exist on opposite sides of a wide communication gap built on generational misunderstandings. Parents want to trust their kids, and teens want to have privileges and feel trusted.
However, using the word trust can often spark more frustrations and arguments than healthy conversation.
“Trust is just, it’s a wish we have to have it easy to parent teenagers,” Dr. Crenshaw said. “Trust is really kind of a cognitive distortion, this idea that if you trust your teen, you give them privileges.”
He said teenagers aren’t wired to be trustworthy. It’s only when people get to about 25 and the brain is developed that the concept is fully understood and trust can be earned.
“For a teenager at 15, it makes about as much sense to them as green beans do to my cat,” Crenshaw said.
He said parents have to do a little more work, truly evaluate the actual decisions teens are making, and reward accordingly.
Watch the full interview in the video player embedded in this story.