Without Trust, Expect Trouble!
I am in the difficult position of being a parent who my son will never trust again. I know this is true because he said quite firmly, “I will never trust you again” when I snuck some avocado into his strawberry smoothie.
Of course, first he thanked me for the smoothie, because after all, I haven’t raised a teenage barbarian without manners.
And he should know by now that meals in this kitchen are sneaky dining, not fine dining and that the cook can’t be trusted, especially after the Pureed Carrots in the Burgers Incident, which resulted in take-out pizza.
His words stung though, because I try to be an honest and upstanding parent, except when attempting to feed vegetables to uncooperative eaters.
The point is that in order for kids to be trustworthy, they have to trust us. This is in fact, the basis of all healthy relationships. I think my kids trust me, as long as we’re not in the kitchen, or in public where I might embarrass them.
Here are some tips so that your kids will trust you and you can sleep at night:
· Don’t lie, unless you’re positive you can get away with it. When they’re little, they’ll believe the toy store is really closed, particularly when followed up by, “Look at that pretty bird over there.” But don’t take chances like that if the child can read a word like “open.”
· Swear on a stack of chocolate bars and stick to it. I often have to promise not to “do or say anything awkward” in public, which is challenging because I am a friendly person and also, I have to breathe. If you absolutely have to go back on your word, explain why and it better be good.
· When the jig is up, give it up. My child’s trust in me wavered after discovering The Truth about the Tooth Fairy. Writing letters back and forth for so long was great fun but it may have been better to come clean after his somewhat suspicious line of questioning, including, “Is it you?”
· Responsibility teaches your employees, I mean, kids, to be trustworthy. Suck it up and say, “I trust you to clean the dishes,” then hide the dirty wine glasses and pray they don’t bust too many plates.
· If your kid’s face is basically one big pimple and you have to say, “it’s not that bad,” you aren’t really lying because she’s still freaking adorable. But other white lies, particularly those overheard in your conversation with someone else, may call into question your credibility.
· Kids need to know we’ll help and support them no matter what, even if they’ve been no-goodniks. Follow through on consequences but consider their side and make sure they know they can earn back your trust and approval.
· Don’t keep any deep, dark secrets too long, i.e., that you’re moving to a place without Wi-Fi to study penguin life or how middle school math makes you lightheaded. They’ll wonder what else you’re hiding and then there’ll be trouble.
Pam J. Hecht is a writer, instructor and mother of two (but not necessarily in that order). Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or pamjhecht.com.