Archive for October, 2012

Do you Trust Your Kids?

 

I have a very important question this week…

Do you trust your kids?

Now before you blurt out a curt “Of course!” Followed by a disgusted grunt and a “Who doesn’t?” Really think about your answer.

I’ve spent a better part of the weekend asking myself this question. Do I trust my kids? Absolutely! I trust them completely with unwavering conviction, without question, hesitation or uncomfortable pause.

But do they think I trust them?

That is the real question in our house. I thought, they thought I trusted them, I really did. I follow all of the parenting expert rules and advice. I never suggest they are lying or question their integrity. I even try really really hard not to arch my eyebrows in a “is that your final answer” fashion. I put a lot of concentrated effort into this last one because my husband reminds me all the time that I do not have communicative control over my facial expressions. Like Pinocchio’s nose, my face gives me away every time.

I thought about this when one of my children blurted out this weekend “why don’t you trust me?” Maybe I am giving off a scent, signals; the unintentional, not even aware I’m doing it, kind. Why would my child question my trust in her? Right after making sure they know I love them to bits the next most important thing to me is making sure they know I trust them completely. It broke my heart for a few minutes and I began one of those flashback sequences in my brain to replay every instance that might have left the impression of mistrust.

Maybe it was the potty training years with that continual

“Do you need to potty?”

“No Mommy.”

“No? are you sure? I think we should try anyway……. No. okay, make sure you tell Mommy?”

And the inevitable inward ‘Agh…I knew it’ *sigh*

 

That might have done it.

 

Or perhaps it was those 18 months I followed her around the house asking her to spit out the thing in her mouth that she didn’t have in her mouth, that I insisted she had in her mouth. I bought it one time until I was extracting it forcibly from her wind pipe. ‘Agh…I knew that too.’ *sigh*

If those instances didn’t tear the trust fabric I wonder, could it have been the times I caught her red handed pummelling her sibling? Maybe I should never have asked “what happened?” because then how do you handle “I didn’t do it”?

How do you appropriately respond to a teacher during a conference when they tell you that homework is not getting done? Do you stand up on the chair, stomp your foot, point your finger at said teacher and shout LIAR! Then explain that your ever honest and truthful child has assured you for months that there is no homework.

Truth be told, kids, little ones especially, are lying machines. They do it so well and so often I don’t think they even know they are doing it. I once had three kids stare at me and swear nothing happened as purple grape juice rained down on me from the kitchen ceiling.

To complicate matters, for their own safety, the safety of others and the development of their character, you have to call them on it. The challenge is doing it constructively and with enough tact that they do not assume the unintended liar label. It all makes the next stage difficult doesn’t it? We want them to know we trust them to make good choices for their lives, good choices for their bodies, their friendship and their futures. We want them to believe it because it is true, we do trust them. Trust is the cornerstone of a solid parent-child relationship. What if you spend the years between potty training and adolescence working like crazy to rebuild the trust lost in the “what’s in your mouth” years and they look at you with adolescent dagger eyeballs and ask “why don’t you trust me?” Can it be true?

Can this issue be played from both sides of the fence competently? Anybody know?…because I think I might have broken one of my kids, their trust anyway, without even knowing I was doing it. Worst of all I’m kind of lost for how to fix it.

You can also find Michelle at her blog The Space Between Raindrops, sharing wisdom, gratitude and humour.

Anti-Bullying: Do you walk the talk?

Parents, even really great parents (you know the ones whose kids are always clean, coordinated and sporting matching socks) make mistakes. Some of us (okay, I mean…I) make more than our fair share of mistakes; those of us with children old enough to talkback never hear the end of our mistakes. Parents (even the ones who think they are pretty great already) spend a lot of time playing over our mistakes, analysing them, working out ways to correct them and taking steps to make sure we don’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. It is part of growing as a parent (because kids aren’t the only ones growing on this journey).

Ordinarily I prefer to try and ease burdens rather than add to the weight of them but October is Bully Awareness Month and it is time to check ourselves, correct ourselves and put an end to some mistakes we might not even be aware we are making.

Take fifteen minutes this week for a good long look in the mirror. Head out to a busy public park, go sit in a food court among the tweenagers and ‘young adults’ or sit outside the playroom door undetected and just listen. Listen and observe. Do you detect kindness, cooperation, and consideration for the feelings of others? Are there signs of defamation, exclusion, judgement, humiliation, or degradation? Everything you hear, the good and the bad, is a direct reflection of the world adults are modelling.
Check yourself

Do you…
• Speak well of others, even when you think your kids aren’t listening?
• Demonstrate patience when patience is tough to come by, in traffic, in grocery store line-ups, in waiting rooms?
• Keep opinions to yourself when they are hurtful, judgemental or degrading? (This includes conversations around the dinner table about your stupid boss, your brother-in-law who needs a life, your neighbour who parks their junk heap out front and passing remarks at supermarket tabloids.)
• Avoid gossiping with friends while the kids ‘play-date’ in the other room?
• Listen to other people?
• Show respect for others?
• Stand up for yourself with thought-out responses and control in your voice and actions?
• Speak up for others when you see or hear them being treated or spoken of unfairly?
• Practice common courtesy?
• Speak to the people inside your home with the same courtesy and respect you show to strangers?

Bullying, is a direct by-product of how we as adults behave out there in the world, how we behave in our homes, in our workplaces, our neighbourhoods and our peer groups. If we are going to turn the tide on acceptance, human kindness and consideration, if we are going to make tomorrow a place with less humiliation, torment and fear for our children, it is going to be up to the ‘ones who should know better’ to show them how it’s done through our own behaviour, words and actions. We must, as Gandhi said, “Be the change we wish to see in this world.” and we must be diligent in our efforts because our own children are not the only ones watching and they are always watching.

You can also find Michelle at her blog The Space Between Raindrops, sharing wisdom, gratitude and humour.


 

Candace also blogs for
the Yummy Mummy Club!