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Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Believing Lies: A cautionary tale in 8 emails

March 5, 2014

Why don't they believe me?

Why don’t they believe me?

It ain’t easy being teen when the social stuff takes up so much time and emotional and mental real estate. A teen’s ability to resolve conflicts in multi-tiered relationships doesn’t match the challenges. We are communicating with more people than ever, but all our texting, chatting and tweeting only increases the chances of miscommunication.

Another problem, peer conflicts rarely involve only two people. Maybe it started with Isaac and Charlotte, but within minutes all their friends become combatants. Increase the number of fighters on any battlefield, real or virtual, and you increase the intensity of the fight and the number of casualties. For example:

Hey Terra, I am new this year and have worked hard to make friends. Now someone has been telling my close friends that I talk behind their back, which I never did! And they actually believe it! Now everyone hates me, even people I don’t know. They call me a FAT HIPPO! They even made a picture of me with Ho, Liar and Skank written on it.  No one wants to be my friend and the rumors keep building up. It’s like I’m being tortured for something I didn’t do! Honestly, I would rather die than be here! I’m innocent and no one believes me. –Feeling depressed!

Hi, Feeling depressed,  I’m sorry this awful stuff is happening to you. It’s so unfair when people refuse to listen to the truth and continue spreading lies. It’s hard enough moving to a new place and it doesn’t help having all this drama to deal with. Do you have a school counselor? If you haven’t yet talked to a caring, trusted adult, you should. Don’t feel powerless because you are not! –Terra

Hey Terra, I did talk to my counselor and he told me to ignore them and keep hanging in there. He called the girls in to “sit and talk” to me and IT GOT WORSE! They called me a baby and worse things! I hate it soo much and they still don’t believe me! I wish everything would just go away!  Your reply has actually made me feel better cuz I feel like someone finally cares! 🙂 thank you!  btw, my name is Kate.–Kate

Dear Kate: Glad you talked to the counselor. That took courage. He thought if you “ignored” the girls their mean behavior wouldn’t have the power to upset you as much. But it’s not working. Go back and tell him “It got worse!” He needs to make it clear to these girls that what they are doing is not acceptable and if it doesn’t stop then their parents will be called in. If this harassment continues, talk to your parents so they can let the principal know what’s going on.–Terra

Hey Terra,Umm, do you know how I can prove to the girls that I’m innocent? If you don’t then that’s fine. I will talk to my parents and counselor. – Kate

Dear Kate, I’m glad you’re going to talk with your parents and to the counselor again. Sorry, I don’t know how you can prove your innocence. If your word isn’t good enough, nothing will be. Stop trying to convince them of anything.  –Terra

Hey Terra! Guess what?! Yesterday everyone apologized to me! They really felt bad for believing those lies! I said it’s OK, but inside I know I need to watch who I trust and what I say around people! Everyone’s hanging out with me more. They said it’s cuz they think I’m a strong person! They said they’re proud of me 🙂 –Kate

Dear Kate, I’m proud of you, too. Sometimes, when we say: “It’s OK” what we mean is “I am letting go of the bad feelings I’ve been holding.” That’s called forgiveness and it’s wise. It’s also wise to carefully choose who to trust. Especially after trust has been broken. Take what you learned and move forward with confidence! –Terra

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For Teens: What do you do after someone has lost trust in you?

December 28, 2009

When someone like a bf/gf or a bff trusts you enough to tell you personal, private information it probably makes you feel pretty special. And it should! Because this person means a lot to you and you want those feelings of trust to continue growing, you promise not to tell a soul. And you totally mean it. But then you find yourself talking to someone else and without meaning to hurt anybody, you tell the thing you promised you wouldn’t! As soon as the words are out of your mouth you get that “uh, oh” feeling. And things usually go downhill from there.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? It’s not uncommon.

Hey Terra,

My boyfriend broke up with me because he said I’ve changed. I have lost his trust, because I was telling people things he told me.  For example he told me that he was going to beat up this guy and then I told my friends. The topic of that particular person came up in the conversation and I thought my bf wouldn’t mind me telling my friends because they are like best friends with him.

I regret that I told them anything. I want to gain his trust back but I don’t know how to really “show” it. When I chat with him online he seems like he doesn’t want to talk to me and that really annoys me.  Today I was talking to him and he said that nobody could ever gain his trust back and that people only get one chance. I screwed up my chance. I really want his trust back again. I told him that but he said I should have thought before I acted. I’m not sure what to do please help !

Sorry Serena

Hi Serena,

We all make mistakes. (Welcome to the club!) But not everyone knows how to use a mistake to learn something about yourself and other people… and move forward with your new wisdom. I admire your self-awareness and I respect the fact that you’re not making excuses for what you did. You made a mistake, you’re sorry and it’s over. You need to forgive yourself.

If you can, try to remember what was going on in your head at the moment you decided to tell your friends what your ex told you. Whatever pressures or temptations you were feeling, it’s important to be honest with yourself about it. That’s really the only way you can avoid doing the same thing again. As for your ex not trusting you 100% any more, well, I’m sure you can understand that he feels betrayed. It’s a human response to pull back and protect oneself from being hurt again.

You’d probably like things between you to be back the way they were… instantly. But that’s not going to happen right away. It takes time to build trust in a relationship, and that can all vanish in an instant (as you’ve experienced). The long road back from betrayal to trust is just that… A long road. You can’t apologize or talk your way back into someone’s trust. Your actions, over time, will either prove to him that you are trustworthy or not.

My advice (since you asked) is that you forgive yourself for your mistake and continue to be the best, most trustworthy friend you can be. That’s all you can do. The rest is out of your hands. No sense stressing about it. Just promise yourself that in the future you will try to be more aware of what you promise and what you deliver through your actions.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Terra

Filed under: Teens — Tags: , , , , — Annie @ 8:02 pm
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