Honesty,  Humility,  Neighbors,  Parenting

Trust, but Verify


Dude #1: “I am so glad I checked.”

Dude #2: “I would do anything to be able to go back and check.”

Where do you fall when it comes to verifying information that could tip the scales toward relief or disaster?

As a mom, it’s my job, my right, and my responsibility to ask my kids questions about their outings, friends, whereabouts, etc. Sometimes (ahem—like this morning) I get major pushback, but I press on.

Why? Because regrets carry weight and guilt, and teens actually want boundaries.


Prudence: Careful, wise discernment; the good management of talents and resources and the showing of tact and wisdom in relationships with other people.


Check In, Check Out, Check Up, Check On

Some people label it skepticism, some think it’s wisdom. You can call it whatever you want—I call it learning from failing.


I’m all about forts and tents and blanket castles, but little people in total isolation doesn’t work for me. I always made our kids leave a flap or zipper or corner up so I could creep on them at any moment.

If all the friends in your kids’ lives seem great and you trust them, kudos. But don’t give them an easy way to be sneaky. Trust, but verify.

Ever caught your kids/nieces/nephews/grandkids lying? Fractured trust can take more than a few days/weeks/months to heal. The next time they tell you something fishy, give them the benefit of the doubt (trust) but ask for more info (verify).



Some adults assume all teens have a rebellious streak. I would argue all humans have a rebellious streak. It just so happens to surface in the teen years, when hormones blaze and everything fully develops… except for the brain.


The first time I ever cheated on a test was in 7th grade English. I’m sure it never crossed my parents’ minds to ask if I felt tempted to cheat because it hadn’t been part of my thought process.

But in a moment of desperation, I dug into my backpack for an answer while the sub wasn’t looking. She may as well have been Dash from The Incredibles because her shoes entered my purview before I could say “irregular verb.”

When my husband and I ask a bunch of questions, one of my kids thinks we don’t trust him.

Well… it’s not that we don’t trust you… it’s just that… we don’t totally trust you.

I recently heard a great way to ask your teens for more info. Go through the five words we use to write a paper:

  • WHO are you going with?
  • WHAT are you doing?
  • WHEN will you be home?
  • WHERE will you be?
  • WHY do you keep forgetting to make your bed?

Teens possess great imaginations and need zero help developing mischievous ideas. Maybe we parents need to remember that even trustworthy teens can compromise without notice.

  • Anybody stealing your money?
  • Sampling your liquor when you’re not home?
  • Using your car without asking?

Trust, but verify.



The 80s taught me to look people in the eye, use my manners, and always be nice. Fine when you’re nine, but when you become an adult woman and feel like you have to step into an elevator with a man for fear of looking rude? Not cool.

Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash


I finally got over it and now I don’t care. Besides the fact that I’ll probably never see him again, doing an about-face and acting like I forgot something is a million times better than getting stuck in an awkward or dangerous scenario.

That’s also why we didn’t force our kids to give hugs to our friends. Just because I went to college with this great guy doesn’t mean my kids need to give him a hug. I know him, they don’t.


Neighbor Kids

First impressions told me every neighbor on my street seemed nice. Unfortunately, even pedophiles and sex-traffickers can be “nice.”

The new neighbor kid and my son had three things in common—doesn’t mean I wanted a sleepover the day they met though.

My general rule: sleepovers are few and far between, usually at our house, and I never go to sleep till they’re asleep. Even great Christian kids from great Christian homes can make terrible decisions at 2am.

We have stories to prove it.

Trust, but verify.



A while back we entered into a financial agreement with Christian people who seemed 100% trustworthy. We knew them for a decade with zero issues, but when it came time to separate our money and go different directions, they held us hostage financially.

Never in a thousand years did I think they would do such a thing to us, much less anyone else. Shocked and hurt, we tried to negotiate, reason and plead, to no avail. They had the upper hand in the agreement, and they used it to benefit themselves.

There’s no way around it—friends disappoint us and we disappoint our friends, so I’m pretty cautious when it comes to sharing personal info (or money) with new people.

Heck, sometimes it takes me years to share things with even my closest friends. I take baby steps of hope toward confidence and loyalty, knowing it might not always work out that way.

Trust, but verify.



Money changes families, too. While I haven’t experienced this one personally, I’ve watched from the sidelines of a devastating game that changed the way one family lived and moved and breathed.

Are you afraid to create an official contract with a family member for fear of appearing skeptical and formal? Don’t be.

  • Buying a Mustang from your mom?
  • Making your buddy a board member?
  • Renting a condo to your cousin?

Shake hands if you want—then get a pen and make it official. The five minutes of awkward could save everyone years of financial drama.


Business Partners

A couple summers ago I entered into negotiations with a friend of a friend to start writing her memoir. As a collaborative ghostwriter, I agreed to interview her and she agreed to pay me to write a full book proposal and the first three chapters of her future book.

Before we started we decided to sign a short contract stating all the details and what-ifs of the project. My first inclination was to let it slide because we’re both honest Christian women with high morals.

But the more I read and talked about the idea with other authors and ghostwriters, the more I realized skipping a contract wasn’t an option.

Nothing slid sideways and the contract sat untouched, but the safety net below made us prudent business partners.

Trust, but verify.


“I, Wisdom, live together with good judgment. I know where to discover knowledge and discernment.” ~Proverbs 8:12 (NLT)


What Did I Miss?

Writing this has reminded me of other areas I need to double check. What about you?

Have you ever been relieved as a result of being prudent?

Have you ever been disappointed after trusting someone and it all went south?

Share your experience in the comments and help the rest of us out!


Know someone who might like this post? Don't hoard it like a secret family recipe, share it...



  • Gidget

    You’re so right. Entering the teen stage of parenting totally changes the playing field. I’ve been doing a lot of reading in parenting books to help equip us along the journey. I was just reading another Christian article about the parents bill of rights, which also included the what, who, how, where and why questions in the contract. I pray constantly for wisdom in raising our boys (and everything else in my life), so I’ll know what to say and do— often is just pausing and letting them know I’m going to have to think about what I’m going to do and that I’ll get back to them. Many times when whatever they’re telling me seems fishy, I do what you do and ask more clarifying questions. But anytime you get into business with someone, yes, most definitely have a written contract explaining the details and expectations. Early on in my writing business, I got put into a situation that could have been avoided with a clear contract. As a result, I did a lot of work for free. I had to learn the hard way. Live and learn. Great post! Keep ‘em coming

    • Carrie Talbott

      Parenting teens is definitely not for wimps. 🙂 I like how you pause and tell your boys you’ll get back to them. That would make me sweat as a teen. Sorry your business deal went a little sideways. I hate stuff like that. Thanks for reading, friend.

  • Jennifer Zarifeh Major

    Oh, Carrie, you are SO RIGHT!!

    Our family learned in a very hard way that there are vicious, hungry, manipulative wolves dressed in the finest clothing any sheep ever wore. Now that I have kids, I do not care if I come across as the meanest mom ev-ar, I will protect my kids.

    I also do not care about someone else’s feelings if my safety is at question. I do not care if a (former) friend thinks I’m sucking all the drama out of the atmosphere and dropping it at her feet. Was the scary guy following her? No. Was he following me? Yes. And yet, *I* was the one making a scene?
    Politeness over peril is a stupid idea and has meant the doom of many.
    If a friend or family member puts one in a position of fear, no matter why, run.
    Let’s just say this, I’d give my own sister a kidney if it meant it would save her life, but I will not and probably never ever will give her an ounce of my trust.
    We have a saying in our house, “say yes when you can, and no when you have to.” And never apologize for acting out of concern for yourself or anyone else.

    • Carrie Talbott

      I’m sorry you have some experience in this area, Jennifer. Sounds like you could help others if you ever wanted to write out your story for a magazine or something. And… I like your saying at the end!

      • Jennifer Zarifeh Major

        It would be interesting to write for a magazine! I used to write for a newspaper as part of an op/ed team, it was always a challenge which stretched me a lot.
        That’s my husband’s saying, he’s pretty smart. (He’s actually a tree scientist and I went NUTS at Mt. H taking photos of the Redwoods for him.)

          • Jennifer Zarifeh Major

            They’re pretty quiet, and are often found in the woods. Seriously, though, his field is genetics and physiology of red and black spruce, but he also has a working knowledge of most conifers indigenous to North America. Which means, anything with a cone. And if you want to talk pollen, he’s the guy. Oh, and bees and willows.
            …I’m already putting myself to sleep.