Yikes. Even as I wrote that, it felt harsh, yet still very true. Where else are you given either no training or very suspect training by those you were sure couldn’t be qualified to teach, only to have handed to you a human life to be responsible for? It’s difficult to know how to gain your kids trust.
You will make mistakes and then you will more importantly demonstrate how to cope with them.
You will lose your way and then you will lead a path back.
You will feel defeated and then you will use what you learned to stand up.
It’s in our mistakes, our growth, our genuine desire to be our best that is parenting. Our kids are going to grow up and be exactly who they are, our job is to give them every opportunity at their definition of happiness.
That is the thought leading directly to an area parents can struggle with: Trust. Every parent has been confronted with the thought that they don’t have their child’s trust and we can adopt a couple of principles that will begin to calibrate exactly what our expectations can be.
You can’t trust your child to get an ‘A’ in their Math class. That is a result, it has nothing to do with either of you. Try instead learning your child’s studying habits, peak attention times and identifying when their frustration kicks in. Then ask them when you could work with them in their studies. Encourage a study time and be their host while they’re working, offering a beverage, taking a snack, this is a way to show them that you support their efforts. This also gives you several opportunities to be vocal in congratulating them in valuing their work, establishing an ownership of their studies. On test day, confirm with them that you aren’t interested in whatever grade the teacher gives them. Express your two areas of importance: effort and attention during study time as well as effort and attention during test time. Your child will begin to value their level of effort over the grade and that is how they will achieve the grade, but more importantly mutual trust with their parents. This is how to gain your kids trust
Applied principles – Detachment
See Deepak Chopra
They’re young, you’re old. It’s the only perspective they can possibly have. Because they have never known you as a youth, they can’t process the thought that you ever endured their challenges. So you have to double down here. I told my son the most embarrassing intimate moment I’ve ever had with a girl when I was a teenager. It’s cringeworthy on an epic level. We took a breather after my story, much needed, then he instantly realized that he had nothing that could beat that ‘highlight’ so he started to rattle off stories of awkwardness and inexperience. We talked about a lot that day, but there is no way a young man or woman is going to just give you such personal and uncomfortable information unless you put your neck out. So practice and rehearse it, get really dramatic and tell that story like you were winning a gold medal. They will be silently grateful for it. This is how you gain your kids trust.
Applied principles – Humility
When my son turned 13, I gave him a small wooden box, about 3”x5”x3”. I told him that because he had done such a great job over the years of contributing to the family’s happiness that I respected him as the young man that he was. As adults we know that with the perks of independence and freedom come the responsibility of our actions. So I presented this empty box to him and told him that I would never under any circumstance open this box without his expressed permission. What he understood was the weight of this box now. It was his and so was the responsibility of what he put in it. When a child knows that there is some small area of complete ownership, it satisfies their innate need to test it. Being a parent gives more and more areas to create trust over time, but you also have to design some yourself. That is definitely how to gain your kids trust.
Applied principles – Leadership
See (Insert your thoughts here)
It’s only fair that I disclose that I can be considered a very unorthodox parent at times, but that is generally because I maintain one focus: show my kids that there is no book they need to follow into adulthood. They are individuals and I absolutely love always getting to know them. I have no expectations in who they become so I learn who they are as they grow and we walk the journey together.
Try these out in your own ways and please, please leave a comment at some point down the road. We need to keep learning, sharing ideas and discussing our mistakes. It’s how our kids win.