Step #2: Let your child know in what crucial situations they can be honest with you, without losing their freedom
Ultimately, we want our teens to know that they can be honest with us about crucial matters without risking their precious freedoms. Sometimes, of course, confessing to a fault and taking the consequences is an important lesson. But equally important are those safety and moral situations in which you want and need your teen to be honest with you—for them to know that no matter what they can come to you without losing their crucial freedoms.
One day, a weird, inappropriate ad appeared on her daughter’s screen. Her daughter came to her, but reminded her promptly of her promise to not take away her internet access.
As you now know, teens live with a deep and reactionary fear that you’ll take away their favorite freedom. So unless you prove that there are situations in which you will leave it intact, your child may be inclined to think that calling you and confessing that they are at a rowdy party is a far greater risk than riding home in the drunk friend’s car. But the more willing you are to explicitly say things like “I promise, if you call, I will come pick you up anywhere, and you will not lose your cell phone,” (or whatever) the more willing the teen will be to trust you when it matter most.