Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, October 23, 2011


Once trust in another person has been damaged or lost, rebuilding that trust can be a very emotional and difficult journey for both parties. For most PSST parents, our teenagers have shattered our trust in them – trust that was so freely given at first, but now lies in ruins. On their journey to recovery, our teens hopefully will want to know what they can do to restore that trust. If we believe that they are truly serious, and that they are willing to commit to the demanding process involved, here is a step-by-step approach that we can try. The Four Steps to Trust and Freedom, developed by Larry Babaczewski of Milwaukee Solution Focus, was discussed at a PSST meeting by one of our guests.

Four Steps to Trust and Freedom!!

1) Do as I/we say.

Certainly not a fan favorite coming right out of the chute, but … classrooms, ball fields, and McDonald’s all begin with the ability to LISTEN and FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. No soccer game, term paper, or Big Mac was ever conquered without this first basic stepping stone of proving that you can get the job done according to plan.

○ On a scale of 1-10, rate the current level of trust – e.g. 5 [parent rating].

○ Then, ask if step #1 was followed for two full weeks – what would the trust level be – e.g. 6. In a month, what would the trust level be – e.g. 7.

○ At the end of two weeks, everyone rates how well the step was followed – on a scale of 1-10. Any rating below an 8 calls for another two weeks of step #1. Ratings above 8 call for a discussion of moving to step #2 – and perhaps, moving to step #2.

2) Ask me first.

So, if you can do the first step well, then maybe the authority figure you are facing may actually listen to you as you carefully and respectfully describe whatever it is you are wanting. This challenges your DISCUSSION and NEGOTIATION skills. Want to change the topic of the class term paper or argue for a later curfew time? Absolutely! … unless you forgot to do step #1.

Conveying what you want respectfully and carefully does not guarantee you will get what you want – so it may be wise to start “small” – e.g. ask for a chance to see a movie and not for a car of your own. This step is an opportunity to get better at negotiation [develop your effective ‘voice’] – all parents feel more positive when they see and hear that their child is developing an effective voice [versus a ranting or whining/”poor me” voice]. This is a time to let your parents know that you have used good judgment or used your head “out there” – e.g. you chose to call them to take you home from a party where there was underage drinking.

On a scale of 1-10, everyone rates how it is going with step #2 – e.g. “asking”/negotiating = 3 because it was not done – you went ahead without asking; or a 7 because it was done in a way that “discussion” and “negotiation” occurred and if a “no” was the response it was accepted. Here, mom and dad need to be clear about what is a “no” that is not negotiable – e.g. while you live under our roof you may not have your boyfriend sleep overnight in your bedroom! And what might be negotiable – if you get nothing less than a B for two grading periods, you can get your driver’s permit.

As negotiating gets stronger/more effective, using a scaling, you are ready to move to the next step – e.g. if you and your parents rate you at an 8 or 9 for a month.

3) Keep us informed/Tell us later.

By now you have earned enough trust and freedom and proven you are responsible so well that you can let your parents know if plans have changed – keep them informed or explain later what changed and why – if you make something up … whoops! … go back to step #1 for a while.

With cell phones and texting, it is easy to keep your parents informed, so err in this direction instead of telling them later. Be prompt about letting them know – let them know as soon as you know. Again use a 1-10 scale to measure how well you are doing with this step. If your rating differs from theirs, it is a chance to use your negotiation skills. This step may need to go on for a while before moving to the next step – yet another chance for negotiating.

4) You’re on your own.

Congratulations! You must have proven yourself to dress appropriately for school, hang around with decent enough friends or eat right, so that your decisions/judgments in these areas of your life are not even questioned by the powers that be. You’ve ESTABLISHED a sense of independent operations … at least in some areas of your life. But remember, do something dumb and fail to honor the basics of step #1, and back to basics you’ll go.

1 comment:

Wilma said...


this is great. We just had a discussion yesterday at our family meeting and Bam doesn't understand why i bring up things from the past. His therapist tried to explain to him that for now that is our point of reference until he can prove to us that he can be trusted. It is so true that we gave freely of our trust and now we have to protect it.
And I wonder if we can ever trust him again?



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