Monday, September 27, 2010

The Trust Balance: Children's Trust in Parents

Kicking off a new series today entitled "The Trust Balance" in which I will explore the power of trust between children and parents, and between spouses. Trust is a very key foundation in any relationship, personal and business alike. Without trust, we cannot have firm relationships. This is especially true when it comes to the relationships we hold with members of our family. Today I will be exploring the trust relationship our children have in us as parents.

From the very beginning, children are dependent their parents. They depend on us for food, for comfort, for their well being, and for emotional development. The trust balance begins here. Our children have to know they can trust us. From the start, they do so without cognitive reason, and more out of need to survive. They start to learn early on that they can count on us for provision, for comfort when they are sick, sad, or just cranky. The trust a young infant has in their parents is a strong sense, and is a bond that needs to be maintained as the child grows. The question, however, is how do we maintain that trust?
Let's all be honest for a moment and admit it: We have all told small lies to our children before. For example: "No I'm sorry you can't watch Mickey Mouse on the computer it's broken." or "No we can't play with the very loud dinosaur toy because it is sleeping." Okay, maybe you didn't use those exact words, but you get the general idea. Yes, it is lying to our kids, but not very likely to break that deep rooted trust. The trust a child has early on is almost an instinct, so it is imperative for parents to maintain that trust.

As children grow older and a little more wise to our shenanigans and sly ways of diverting attention and avoiding disaster, they also grow wiser to the difference between reality, and something we are making up. With my oldest, Caleb, it didn't seem like it took long before he knew that the dinosaur was in fact, a toy, therefore would never sleep. He also   became hip to the fact that the computer is rarely broken. He knows when it is not really raining outside, and where the bubbles are when we last tried to hide them. With this new found knowledge came a new found sense in myself to acknowledge that it was time to start being more upfront with my children.

It is too easy to break a child's trust. My children know everything I tell them and hang on every word. If I say we are going to do something, they trust we are going to. If I tell them daddy will be home before bedtime, then they trust I will be there for the goodnight sugies and hugs. If I tell Caleb that something is wrong and punishment will follow the next time, but then go and do the same thing, then I have failed, and my word is not as strong. The trust is not as strong. It is important to me that my children have trust in me and their mommy. It is important that they know they can come to us with anything, good or bad, and trust that we will respond in a loving manner and with correct conviction.

Children need to have a strong sense of trust in their parents as they grow, and us as parents nurture them. They will face many uncertainties and obstacles as they move into new phases in life. We need to be there for them, to guide them and comfort them, and they need to know they can trust us. Trust is an essential foundation to our relationships in life. To me, there is a high priority in the relationship I have with my children, and it is a high priority that no matter what, they can trust me. They can trust me to provide, to nourish, to comfort, and to support. They can trust me to never judge them, and always respond out of love before anger.

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