I learned a big lesson about trust recently when my son asked me, "Dad can I go to a friends house?". With him starting high-school this year and us having a rough eighth grade year with him last year, one could say that Tiff and I have moved from default parenting into a more intentional parenting mode in the last six months. It was about a week and half ago, with no school due to a teacher's planning day, that I decided to leave Austin and Jordan with my mother-in-law because I didn't want to leave him home alone. When he asked me why he couldn't stay home alone, I gave him a pat response and told him it was because I didn't completely trust the new neighborhood. So after I dropped him off, he then called me and asked if he could hang out at a friends house in our old neighborhood. So I gave him another pat response and told him that I didn't completely trust that idea and that his friend could verily easily come over to grandma's house. Then Austin said three little words that cut at the heart of where I was coming from and gave some real shape to all of my amorphous responses; he said, "Dad... just trust me".
I've found that so much of parenting can be summed up in those three little words : "Just trust me".
- Just trust me, "You don't want to watch TV to closely"
- Just trust me, "I'll catch you if you jump"
- Just trust me, "Eating that at this hour will make you sick"
We say those words all the time but are we really being trustworthy parents. We assume our kids will trust us because WE know that we'll be there for them. We provide them with food, shelter, and more toys and gadgets then they know what to do with. But is this really how we let our children know they can trust us?
As parents, we have so many things competing for our attention. When we choose what's less important over our children, we're spending equity against the relational trust we work so hard to build. And when we don't extend trust even when that trust has been violated, we're basically not making necessary deposits where that trust can be rebuilt. This week I've thought about how I as a parent have withdrawn from the "relational trust account" that I have with my kids by asking myself several questions :
- Did I respond the first time my child called my name? Have I been a good listener?
- Did I keep my word when I said I would do something for or with them? Have I kept my commitments?
- Have I ignored my kids due to work, text messaging, social media outlets while they were talking to me?
- Have I extended trust when given the opportunity?
I have so much to learn as a parent and look forward in doing some self inventory on how to become a more trustworthy one. After all, when we demonstrate to our kids that we can trust them in the mundane moments of life, they will trust us in those "leap of faith" moments as well.