Trust is defined as “the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Indeed. But what the definition doesn’t tell us is that trust is a fickle fellow that’s hard to earn and even harder to maintain.
As parents, we understand the importance of trust within the parent-child relationship, but if you’ve ever wondered how to set your child on the path to greatness as a result of your trust, the answer is simple. You give it to them.
Listen, I know your kids are good at making mistakes because mine are too. I also know that your kids have let you down before because mine have too. But despite these inevitable growing pains, when kids are given the opportunity to rise to the occasion with a measure of trust beyond what they’ve earned, they rarely disappoint.
Your valuable trust shows your growing child that you not only recognize their budding independence, you think enough of their developing character to offer it.
Is it scary? You bet. Will they let you down? Sure, but with every misstep they become better at caring for something as precious as your trust.
My journey of trust with Boy Wonder has been a complicated one that continues to wind down a very uncertain road, but we’re getting there while slowly learning what it means to give, receive, and foster mutual trust. No one said it was going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.
Here are 8 ways I’m working to communicate trust with my tween.
1. I trust him to do his schoolwork.
Stepping out from behind Boy Wonder’s homework planner wasn’t easy, but once I did, he didn’t disappoint. Keenly aware that I would no longer manage his academic schedule, check his homework, help him cram for exams, or teach him what he should have been learning in class, he took ownership of his grades and rose to the occasion. Of course, I’ll always be there to provide the academic support he needs, but the battles over homework and time-management have been won — by both of us.
2. I leave him home alone.
While I may never fully understand why my son loathes being home alone (hello, adult programming and processed foods!), I keep his solitary adventures brief, but regular. Leaving him home alone shows that I not only value his independence, but trust him to care for himself and our home.
3. I let him to ride his bike.
I may have been strong-armed into this one, but the value of allowing our kids the freedom to roam is undeniable. Watching him to ride into the distance may frighten me, but allowing him to spread his wings while flying close to home makes me feel better.
4. I enlist his help.
As a doer, I’m in constant need of help. Whether I’m hanging pictures, preparing a four-course meal, or sanding down an old cabinet, you can always find me begging for Boy Wonder’s help. And why not? He’s smart, capable, and small enough to reach in small corners (it’s true). Relying on his assistance shows him that I trust in his abilities and value his contributions.
5. I value his opinion.
I don’t exactly know why I got into the habit of asking Boy Wonder’s opinion on so many things, but my indecisiveness paired with his opinionated nature might have everything to do with it. From what color to paint the bathroom to the best gift for my mom and which shoe looks better, my son remains an important sounding board for thoughts and ideas.
6. I let him decide.
When it comes to his clothes, his hair, his elective courses, and just about everything else of a personal nature, I let him decide and stay out of it … within reason.
7. I share his good choices.
When my son does something that exhibits strong character, I’m quick to not only recognize it; I’m quick to share it with the people who love him. Good choices deserve good words. Good words promote confidence and trust.
8. I treat him differently.
Gone are the days of lumping 11-year-old Boy Wonder in with his 6-year-old brother. As a tween, he’s entitled to greater freedoms, choices, and privileges than his younger sibling. The more practiced, comfortable, and responsible he shows himself to be with these freedoms, the more I provide.