Question:We have a 17 year old daughter who has just confessed to me that she has broken several rules related to boundaries with guys, driving, attending a party, lying to us. She wants to make things right with us so she can have a right relationship with God. I had a tremendous amount of trust and some of the things she confessed were very hard to handle for me. I feel betrayed. She wants me to trust her again as if nothing happened. Most of the things she confessed to happened when she spent the night away from home. My instinct is to enforce some agreed consequences for the behaviors she confessed, but then she will never share openly and honestly again. How do we rebuild the trust? Should there be consequences?
It should be a great encouragement to you that your daughter was willing to confess her bad behavior and her desire to have a right relationship with God! Your reaction of shock, betrayal and broken trust are normal - but I would also challenge you to remember that your daughter is a teenager - a rookie adult - and as such is more prone to make some bad choices along the way. One of your goals should be to help your daughter learn from her poor decisions. Also, remember that the goal of discipline isn't about invoking obedience, but rather to prepare your daughter for responsible and successful adulthood.
I believe that you should enforce the agreed consequences for her behavior. It's part of consistent discipline. She may not like the consequences, but they will serve as both a deterrent and as an instructor if you stand firm in enforcing them. If you let the consequences slide, it sends a message to your daughter that her inappropriate behavior is no big deal. Further, I don't think that enforcing consequences will necessarily result in your daughter not sharing openly again.
Regarding rebuilding trust, you may need to tighten the boundaries/consequences for a time, and then begin to loosen them as your daughter proves that she can be trusted. By all means - and this is very important - do provide your daughter with a path whereby she can regain your trust!