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.

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