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What makes a trusted adult and how can adults help teens thrive?

“Discernment is so important,” says Sarah Brooks on the Next Gen Now Podcast. When it comes to the influential figures in a teenager’s life, having people they genuinely like is not enough; these individuals must also be trusted voices. But what exactly makes a trusted adult, and how can we help teens find them?

Here are a few of the qualities that define a trusted adult, along with some tips for both parents and non-parents on how to be that reliable source of support for teenagers.

What are the qualities of a trusted adult?

Whether you are looking for trusted adults to surround your teen with or looking to start a conversation about people they might already know and trust, having a clear picture of what to look for can help.

Someone They Can Talk To

A trusted adult is someone a teenager can openly communicate with. They are approachable and willing to listen without judgment. Teens should feel comfortable discussing their thoughts, concerns, and dreams with this person.

Available for Communication

In today’s digital age, communication is not limited to face-to-face interactions. Trusted adults should be reachable via text, calls, or other messaging platforms. This accessibility ensures that teens can seek advice and support when needed.

Provides Encouragement

Encouragement is a crucial component of trust. A trusted adult motivates and uplifts teenagers, boosting their self-esteem and helping them develop a positive self-image. Their words and actions should inspire confidence.

Willing to Give Honest Feedback

A trusted adult is not just a cheerleader; they also act as a guiding light. They are unafraid to call out a teenager when needed, helping them recognize their mistakes and grow from them.

A Safe Haven

Above all, a trusted adult is someone with whom a teenager feels safe. Teens should be able to confide in this person without fear of ridicule or betrayal. This safety net is essential for building trust.

So how can we help teens find trusted adults to confide in?

We’re so glad you asked.

Ask Who They Would Turn To

Sometimes, teenagers already have trusted adults in their lives but may not realize it. Parents and mentors can initiate a conversation by asking who the teen would turn to if they needed help or what are the qualities of a trusted adult.

Recognize Existing Trusted Adults

Chances are, teens have several potential trusted adults in their lives. This could be a teacher, coach, youth minister, parent of a friend, or a family member. Identifying and acknowledging these individuals is an essential step in cultivating trust.

Aim for a Network of Trust

Ideally, teens should have at least five trusted adults in their lives. A variety of perspectives and experiences can help them navigate different aspects of life. Parents can even ask people they trust to take a more prominent role as trusted adults, giving them permission to offer counsel without always involving the parent.

Encouraging mentor relationships for your teen

One idea on how to encourage mentorship relationships for your teen is to organize a coming-of-age event like Caleb’s dad did for him. Caleb’s 13th birthday marked a transformative experience. His dad organized a hiking trip with a group of men he viewed as trusted adults. These were individuals Caleb knew and loved but hadn’t considered as people he could turn to in place of his dad. However, this experience allowed him to start viewing them that way. It doesn’t have to be a hiking trip either. It could be a special dinner or a coffee date!

How to be a trusted adult

If you have teens in your life and are a trusted adult, there are three things that teens need you to do.

  • Listen
  • Encourage
  • Keep it confidential (unless they are hurting themselves)

Also in this episode

  • Olivia Rodrigo is back in the limelight with the release of her second album, GUTS
  • Teen Term: Fax, No Printer
  • NPC streams are increasing in popularity, but what are they and why do people watch?

In this episode, we mentioned or used the following resources about Olivia Rodrigo, NPC streaming, and finding trusted adults for teens.

Have a question?

If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

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Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Tobin Hodges

Tobin Hodges

Program Director

Caleb Hatchett

Caleb Hatchett

Podcast Host

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