What to Do When Your Parents Don't Trust You

So, your parents don’t trust you? Maybe every time you have to explain your actions to them you feel like you’ve been put on trial. They drill you about details and keep digging, convinced you’re hiding something. Maybe they take more of a detective approach, digging into your Facebook profile, text messages, and Instagram account. What are they looking for? You’re a good girl! Or maybe you’ve blown it. And you're wondering if your parents will ever trust you again. Their leash feels too tight. It’s choking you. When will you be able to run free?

First Things First

Before we head too far down this path, let's get a few things straight.

1. God has given your parents great responsibility.

Here are just a few of the responsibilities given to your parents in Scripture.

  • Train your children (Prov. 22:6).
  • Bring children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
  • Teach your children God’s law (Deut. 4:9, 11:19).
  • Tell your children about God’s faithfulness (Isa. 38:19).
  • Demonstrate what God is like (Ps. 103:13).
  • Provide for your family (1 Tim. 5:8).

And like it or not, the Bible clearly tasks parents with keeping their children under control (1 Tim. 3:4) and with disciplining their children when they lack control or step outside the boundaries of what God and your parents decide is best for you (Prov. 19:18, 23:13, 29:17). While we all have a responsibility before God for our own sin, God also looks to your parents when you are living outside of His will. Take it from a mama, the weight of that is heavy. And while God gave me this tremendous task of teaching my children about Him and making sure they are following His law, He also forgot to include a users manual when He gave them to me. I parent as a sinner. Which means I mess up daily. Your parents also parent as sinners. Which means of course, they mess up daily. They will not parent as God calls them to perfectly, but if they are working hard to teach you self-control and make sure you are living within the parameters of God’s Word, they are doing what God has called them to. If that bugs you, your real beef is with God, not with your mom and dad. I know what you’re thinking. Um . . . I thought this was a post about how to get my parents to stop snooping in my Insta feed. We’ll get there. (But I should warn you ahead of time, you might not like my game plan).

2. God has given you a great responsibility.

The Bible asks you to give two very specific responses to your parents' instruction.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise)’” (Eph. 6:1–2).

The Bible tells you to obey your parents, and the Bible tells you to honor your parents. It is possible to obey your parents without honoring them (insert eye roll and foot stomp here), but it is impossible to honor your parents without obeying them. Your obedience to their rules even when you don’t like them is the primary way you can demonstrate love and respect toward your parents. With the tent pegs of God's design for your relationship with your parents up, let’s get into the specifics of how to handle it if your parents don’t trust you. Here are five steps to take if your parents don’t trust you.

1. Ask

Sometimes our relationship with our parents can be unnecessarily awkward. Maybe you are misreading your parent’s signals? If given the opportunity, your parents might explain why they take the approach they do or even try a new approach based on new understanding. So, why not rip off the Band-Aid and simply talk about it? Try these conversation starters:

  • Do you trust me?
  • Is there anything I can do to help you trust me more?
  • How can I know if you trust me or not?

Choose a time when you and your parents are not fighting to start this conversation and mind your body language. Stay calm. Uncross arms. Force those eyeballs not to roll and approach it like the trustworthy young lady you are.

2. Repent

If your parents' lack of trust is rooted in past mistakes, true repentance may be in order. Glossing over the sin and hoping it goes away won’t work. If there is a secret sin that your parents don’t know about, repentance is also needed. As a parent, I can sense when something is off with my kids though I don’t always know what it is. That’s when I go into super detective mode, trying to figure out what my boys’ may be hiding. Your parents may sense that you are hiding something and be circling the wagons as a result. Dragging secret sins into the light is almost always painful, but it is the first step toward freedom from the bondage those sins create.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another . . .” (James 5:16).

3. Pray for your parents

There is a second part of that passage that is just as important.

“. . . pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Pray for each other. You will be amazed what praying for your parents will do to soften your hearts toward each other.

4. Invite your parents into your social media

Warning: This is going to sound crazy. If you want your parents to trust you, give them full access to your social media. Write out the passwords for them. Give them permission to snoop. I know this may feel like a total invasion of privacy, but it’s not. It’s accountability. If you aren’t comfortable with your parents seeing something you post, you don’t have any business posting it anyway. Knowing your parents will be looking provides a needed guardrail to make sure your social media posts reflect who you are as a Christian. Plus, demonstrating that you trust your parents with your world will go a long way toward earning trust in theirs.

5. Chose wise friends

Maybe you’ve heard your parents say, “Birds of a feather flock together,” or “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” I don’t have any feathers, and I’ve never had any bridge-jumping friends so those examples zoomed right over my head as a teenager. The Bible makes the same point in much clearer language.

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20).

Wise friends will make you wise. Foolish friends will get you hurt. It’s that simple. Be picky about your friends. As your parents see you making wise choices in this area, their trust for you will grow.

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.