Learning to Trust as A Family
This topic has many applications. Learning to trust can be something you are working to do with your spouse, your family, or even at work. This post is about learning to build trust between parents and children.
I am not an expert on this topic. I am inviting you on my journey to find ways to encourage our dear children to trust us. And finding ways for us, as parents, to trust our dear children. There are so many pitfalls in our modern culture to create an environment of distrust.
My dear husband and I have taken the approach of being open and honest with our dear children on all topics. We have decided that if they are old enough to ask the question, they are old enough for a mature response to the question. This includes topics about death, sex, drugs, and even Santa.
My sweet mom tells a story about when she learned her parents were the magic behind Santa. She then learned about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. She says that for years, as a young child, she kept waiting for someone to tell her that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirt were also ‘not real.’ It shook her faith, and it created doubt in her ability to trust adults. She was then, always open, and honest with me. As she did not want me to have the same experience.
My dear husband I have had many awkward and at times heartbreaking conversations with our dear children. We have also had some inspiring and loving discussions. We have worked hard to create an open, safe, and trusting environment. And yet, we miss the mark. In talking with my dear children one day, they shared how they hear a quite different view of further education, sex, drugs, and even how to treat others when they are in school. They even hear another different version through their electronic devises.
Our dear children are going out into a world where various sources are challenging their way of thinking. Now, some may say this is an opportunity to change schools and shut down the electronics. Narrow their world until they are surrounded by likeminded people. My dear husband and I want them to be challenged. We want them to question. We even want them to develop their own way of thinking and their own opinions. We just do not want that to cost the trust amongst our family.
So, how do we build their trust in us and our trust in them?
There is a great article from SixSeconds The Emotional Intelligence Network, 10 Simple Ways to Build Trust as a Parent • Six Seconds (6seconds.org) that provides the 10 tips.
Acknowledge your children’s emotions.
Help them label their emotions.
Validate their emotions.
Teach emotional responsibility by example.
Observe and share our patterns that are and are not productive.
Brainstorm as a family on how to take responsibility for their patterns.
Accept your teen’s decision if you have given them the power to choose.
Help teens think through consequences with empathy.
Help teens solve their problems by helping think through the situation rather than trying to solve it yourself.
When things are tough as a parent acknowledge it and call it out.
Reading this list and the full article there are many times where I know, as a parent, I have not taken these approaches. And in many of the situations I look back on I see how putting one of these practices in place could have made the difference. We are not given a guidebook when we become parents.
I find it important to recognize where I can do better and rather than beating myself up for the past try to start doing better once, I learn something new.
Working these steps is a two-way path to building trust. Cycling back through these steps will help your children trust you and you trust your children. As they can share their feelings, take accountability for their patterns, and solve their problems we as parents are able to build more confidence in the choices they will make when we are not around.
This is a journey my dear husband and I are on with our dear children. If you have success stories about building trust in your family, we would love to hear them. We welcome other articles and exercises you have found useful as well.