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Think about a machine. What does it do? How does it perform efficiently? How is it assembled? Every machine is a little different with all the moving parts, but the one thing all machines have in common is that they all need grease to work properly or there’s potential for a lot of friction.

Grease keeps a machine running, just like trust keeps a relationship running. When a relationship has mutual trust, communication is easier; everything is easier and amazing things can happen. Without trust, a relationship is like a wheel without grease—it doesn’t work. Trust plays a fundamental role in every relationship.

Although trust is easy to break and difficult to get back once it’s broken, with time and effort it is possible to become realigned and create a relationship that is stronger than ever.

Here are a few practical tools and ideas for you to rebuild trust with your teen.

Consider Initiating the Trust

A lot of times, teens are in a position where they’re not confident enough or don’t have a strong desire to build trust. In this case, you as a parent will have to be the one to initiate it. Begin by evaluating your own shortcomings and start to repair the trust from your end. Identify your own choices and recognize that you might not be quite where you need to be for your teen to really trust you. Then, make a list with your co-parent about what is possibly tearing apart your relationship with your teen. Once you’ve done this, be straightforward and sincere in your proposal to rebuild the trust with your child.

Help Your Teen Understand Why Trust is Important

It’s powerful to let your teen know that the lack of trust between you has brought your relationship to a halt, just like a wheel would without grease. If you don’t do what you need to do to repair it, the components of the relationship are in serious danger of permanent damage. Find a good time to have this conversation and let them know of your sincere desire to strengthen your relationship. When they can see that you’re working to do your part and there is mutual understanding, it’ll be easier for them to open themselves up and build mutual trust again.

Don’t Force It

Trust is mutual—if one side isn’t ready to fully trust again, you can’t force it on them and make it happen right away. When you have the conversation, let your teen know that you don’t expect an answer right away and give them time to think about things. Their side of the story is just as valid as yours, so take the time to hear them out and understand where they’re coming from.

These initial steps are crucial when it comes to rebuilding trust with your teen, and following through with your commitment to change will be an important element as well. Think about the meaningful relationships in your life and think about what you can do to improve them—trust is a powerful thing, so go ahead and harness it.

If you would like to hear more about this topic, you can listen to the Not by Chance Podcast episode “Trust in a Relationship is Like Great in a Wheel” with Dr. Tim Thayne on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

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