Have you ever asked your child if they trust you? Or is it an assumption that they should because you’re their parent? When it comes to trust between child and parent, the focus is on the child’s trustworthiness. If this hasn’t crossed your mind, you’re not alone. I never saw this perspective until my child hesitated when I asked if they trusted me. Let me paint the scene…
I’ll never forget the day I asked our oldest after he insisted I was wrong about something (impossible, I know). As flustered as him, I blurted, “don’t you trust me! I know what I’m saying.” And he hesitated. Let me tell you, that was a shock to my parenting pride. I just assumed he did and everything in me felt a rush of:
How could he not trust me?
I’m his mom!
And yet, the truth is he has every right to examine if I am trustworthy. Trust is made, and that includes parent/child relationships. As I’ve grown, it’s become apparent that our children can trust us and, if not, we have to work on how to earn that trust. I’m sure if we reflect on our own lives, these relationships are vital to who we become and how we navigate future relationships.
Trust is earned in every relationship
Life has taught me that titles and positions do not automatically warrant trust. Blind trust isn’t wise. So as I raise my children, I have come to understand that I am their first opportunity to develop and model what a trusting relationship can be.
I don’t know about you, but that’s a harsh reality to process some days. Because especially as a parent I want my children to see the best in me and know that my husband and I care for them. That they can see a track record of trustworthiness with people that love them most. With that said, there’s a lot of growth that happens daily with this in mind.
So pause; if you’re a bit discouraged, I want to share some hope that you can build the trust dynamic between parent and child within your own home.
TRUST IS BUILT INTENTIONALLY between a child and A parent.
I firmly believe that all aspects of parenting and any relationship are intentional. These are some ways that I’ve shifted (over time) and adjusted how I interact with my kids—focusing on how I can build trust not just on my end but theirs as well. I am constantly learning as they grow and find ways to articulate what they like and don’t like.
A major one is when I need to listen better or rush them when they want to share something. So having to slow down and intentionally make space for them is an area of growth for this mama. May these tips be helpful to you as they have been to me:
- Be slow to dismiss: Before responding or dismissing your child…listen. Even when you know what should happen or don’t want to listen – I encourage you to. Choosing to listen and make space for your child demonstrates their value. Not just by our words but by how we treat them. I love this skill I learned from Bluey where when you’re talking, your child can gently grab your hand to signal they need your attention.
- Be consistent: I recently read this quote, “Trust is built through consistency.” I couldn’t agree more. Consistency, routine, and structure are where not just children – but ALL of us thrive. Being consistent in your expectations, rules, and consequences help set the boundary and standard between you and your child. This also can go both ways. Through consistency, your child learns your abilities to follow through, keep your word, and more.
- Be honest: Make an effort to communicate openly and honestly with your children. This means being honest about your feelings, thoughts, and actions. It also means listening to your children and considering their thoughts and feelings.
empathy is essential to trust… don’t miss THE connection.
- Keep your promises: Confession – I’ve had to grow in this area. It’s essential to follow through on your commitments to your children. If you promise to do something, make sure you do it. This helps to build trust and show your children that you can be counted on.
- Empathy goes a long way: Empathy is an essential aspect of trust. When your children are upset or in need, take the time to understand their perspective and validate their feelings. If you struggle with reactive behaviors like yelling, begin to find ways to either take a break yourself or communicate when you’re less frustrated. This helps to build trust and a strong bond between you.
- Practice patience and realistic expectations: Kids are kids! They were meant to be unpredictable and explore life with unmatched curiosity. I don’t know about you, but my kids constantly push the boundaries (say a prayer). But not just to push but also to learn. So I need to grow in patience and understanding that they are learning and I’m there to guide them. Patience and grace go a long way.
- Apologize when you’re wrong: This is a MAJOR trust builder. We are all human, and we all get things wrong. Children are not exempt from receiving apologies or watching us acknowledge our weaknesses.
remember the LONG-TERM goal
It’s the daily choices we make that impact our long-term goals. When I sit with my kids or interact with them in this season of life, I think of my relationship with them in 5, 10, and 15 years. That will put into perspective how I react or engage them because I want to have a deep and safe relationship with my kids through every stage of their life. Yes, I know our dynamics will change, but I pray that they will know no matter what I am for them and that they can trust me.
Showing up and putting these words in this post into action can be challenging (most days, one or more are hard). And yet I see the foundation of trust that continues to build. It encourages you to find one or two that connect with your values and are worth incorporating into your relationship with your kids.