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Teens and Trust

- by Ligia Brubaker, Certified SRA / Dibbles Institute Educator When I was 13, my dad gave me the best gift a dad could give his daughter. It came in a very large box, carefully wrapped. I opened the box with a lot of excitement, but when it was all unwrapped, I realized it was empty. Inside, on the bottom of this giant box, was a note. It said, "I hope you never become like this: big and empty." I stood there and I looked at the box. I read the note a few times, let it sink in. And it did sink in. I lifted my eyes from the empty box, looked my dad in the eyes and said: "No, I won't. Thank you, dad." I didn't know exactly what it meant, but I knew it must mean something important. So I kept those words in my mind and I thought about them often. That was the last birthday gift I got from my dad. He died soon after. Fathers are extremely important in their daughter's life. "Big and empty." I figured later, those words meant: not worthy of trust, without substance, without integrity. I know my father would be proud of me now and he would be happy to meet the man I married. He would also be very proud of his sons who are just as wise as him. My father invested trust in me. Mothers tend to worry more than fathers. My mom was not very quick to offer trust, but once we built it, it was there. I’m grateful for the way I was raised. My brothers and I were taught to made good choices and follow the Success Sequence - although we didn't know what it was called. Now, when we're all in our 30's and we look back, we see that the trust they invested in us was very empowering.

How to Build Trustful Relationships With Your Parents

In a trustful relationship, you need to have: 1. Clear boundaries. 2. Kind and loving enforcement of the boundaries, without delay. 3. Responsibility for your own person. My parents were great with us. They did make mistakes, like all parents, but they also admitted their mistakes to us and apologized when they made a mistake. That shows respect. I know not all parents or guardians are like mine. But there are always two parties in a relationship. Just because you are at an age when everyone expects you to engage in risky behavior, it doesn't mean you have to do so. If your parents don't trust you and suspect that you drink, smoke, have sex, here are some things you can do.

1) Know You Are Not Alone

There are so many teenage students that I work with who have never engaged in any sexual relationship, don't drink, don't smoke, and don't do drugs. Whatever the society tells you, the truth is that MOST students are NOT engaging in these activities. The Center for Disease Control says that 63% of the students, by the time they finish high-school, have never engaged in these behaviors. Yes, boys brag and girls tend to shame each other around the topic of sex, but - in the words of Dr. House - "Everybody lies."

So if you are not smoking, drinking, doing drugs or having sex, you are actually part of the vast majority that makes healthy choices aimed at a better future. You are part of our tribe!

2) Be Consistent

If you are consistent in the way you make all of your choices, those around you will see that, including those who don't trust you yet or those who wonder if they should trust you or not. Because healthy choices lead to an increased level of overall health and that cannot be hidden! With a little bit of work and perseverance, you can prove that you are mature and can make healthy choices for yourself. There is no greater reward for a teen than to know that their parents or guardians trust in them.

If you develop a character that shows consistency (by always making healthy choices), that shows perseverance (by choosing the harder right choice over the easier wrong one - even when no one is looking), that proves trustworthiness (the ability to be relied on), you will not become "big and empty". All these qualities that you develop in time will fill the box of your life and one day, when you will have your own family and your own children, you will be able to teach them how to be everything that you are - and more!

If you don't have anyone to watch over your development, someone in your corner to empower you, someone to establish a healthy relationship with you, or someone to model for you a life with healthy choices - all is not lost!

Did you know that you are your biggest critic and your greatest friend? Instead of feeling hopeless, take on the challenge of being your own guardian. Watch other people, learn from their experiences. Raise the bar for your own expectations for yourself. Love yourself enough to choose what is healthy and right for yourself and your future over what feels fun at the moment. Observe yourself from the outside and make the necessary adjustments. Your road might be just a bit harder than the road of your peers, but if you take the challenge on and manage to become trustworthy in an environment that is not empowering, you will be stronger and more mature than your peers. Don't use the adversities in your life as an excuse to become big and empty. Use them as opportunities of growth. Develop a growth mindset, and you will be among the winners! The reason why I teach Healthy Relationships is because I TRUST TEENAGERS. I know that I know that I know - that if you are being told the truth about life, about how to not mess up by following your silly heart (all hearts are silly and need to be kept in check! - we'll talk about all that in our upcoming shows!) and how not to be influenced by those who might lie to you - I KNOW you will make the healthiest choice for you. I know because I too was a teenager (not that long ago!) and I wanted to have a successful, happy life. No one plans for homelessness and bankruptcy, but many end up there because they don't know what choices are healthy and what choices are unhealthy. This is what our program is all about. We are here to empower you and help you distinguish between truth, lies, healthy choices and illusions. I really hope you will join our tribe online, on YouTube and via our classes! I trust you. Follow our weekly YouTube show at: THINK TWICE YOUTUBE CHANNEL


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THINK TWICE Sexual Risk Avoidance Education Initiative is supported by the United States Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Grant #: 90TS00230100.
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