Being trustworthy is something we build in time. It starts with our parents giving us responsibility according to our ability, and as we learn, as we become more able, agile, responsible, the trust grows. Our trust in ourselves. Our parent’s trust in us.
But what a gift trust is!
I have felt at times that my parents were slightly irresponsible, or over trusting. The circumstances of life were as such that risk was necessary, in trusting us before we fully earned their trust. But isn’t that the magic of growth. Can you prove to be trustworthy before sometime takes a risk on you?
Kids fail early and often, and it is a parent’s responsibility to trust again, wisely.
Trust is not assuming unnecessary risks. My parents trusted me to run errands, to pay bills, to deliver important messages across town before phones. To ride the train across the country alone as a minor.
But I remember once when my mom flipped out. We were walking through the city in the summer, past midnight, after church. I’ve stayed out late many times, with my church group. But this time we we go to the public pool and swam illegally at night. Needless to say, I felt it it my gut that this was dangerous, from a safety point of view. And bottom line, my mom trusted me, but didn’t trust the circumstances one bit.
When we need to keep our kids safe, if we assure them of our love and trust, and define the boundaries of their freedom based on their safety, I’m sure many would comply more easily.
Trust is a kind if love. It is the essence of love. I had the privilege of experiencing trust early on and i think I took it for granted. I just had my drivers license. I usually drove with my dad in the car. But on Sunday he was at work and I asked if I can drive to church with my mom. His gut reaction was to say no. And I asked him without premeditation: “don’t you trust me?” I have never asked him that question before and never asked it after. I could tell he was caught off guard. He fumbled and said he trusts me. He gave me the keys to the car. I was careful and I felt more confident in my own self having driven the car without him.
I have this trust talk with my eldest daughter. I tell her I want to rest in our relationship and truth telling us a foundation for mutual trust. I told her I will never lie to her. And I hope she can practice her truth telling with me. That I care more about her coming clean than about any damage to property or mistakes she might make.
A troubled kid who struggled with drugs, violence and the law in general, he was told about Jesus, and he was trusted foolishly or in a crazy way with a box of money. The cool thing is that he could articulate the unfamiliar feeling of trust, that he couldn’t waste, when someone chose to trust them despite prior proof of distrustful behavior.
The more I think about it, as I try to be purposeful about parenting, correcting in love, pointing to Jesus, highlighting integrity and character, I realize a strong connection is built with trust. Kids trust before they are verbal, that we will meet their needs, that they are safe with us, that we show up, and that we embrace. Creating contexts where we can teach them to be trust worthy and practicing our trust in them takes courage, creativity and some risks. But nothing great happens without risks. Love is risky.