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How Can I Get My Grandparents to Trust Me?

I live with my grandparents since my mom went to prison. Sometimes they act like I’m going to get in trouble like my mom did. They have such strict rules for me. I don’t do drugs, drink, or smoke, and I do OK at school. How can I get them to trust me?
– Mark*

When someone is incarcerated, it can be hard on everyone in the family. You and your grandparents probably have a lot of emotions and concerns about your mom’s situation. Talking together about how you feel can help you get closer and understand each other better.

Maybe it’s natural for your grandparents to worry a little more over you right now. Most likely, they are trying their best to care for you and keep you safe. Talk to them (respectfully, calmly, and with love) about how you feel.

Tell your grandparents you want their trust and that you plan to earn it. Let them know the ways you already try to stay safe and out of trouble. Remind them of what’s going well for you. Remind them about what’s good in your life, your accomplishments, and the dreams you have for your life.

Listen to what your grandparents have to say about family rules, curfews, and their expectations for you. Talk together about how you can earn their trust and make them proud.

Don’t give in to negative expectations anyone may have of you because of your mother’s situation. You are your own person. Set positive goals and standards for yourself. Surround yourself with people who are positive influences and who believe in you. Work hard to accomplish your goals and move toward your dreams.

As you build a great track record of taking good care of yourself and doing your best, hopefully your grandparents will be able to trust you more and more.

Sometimes difficult situations can help us learn good things. Try to learn positive lessons from your mom’s experience and focus on living your very best life.

Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2013

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.