Earning Your Child’s Trust

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Never underestimate the importance of a child's trust!

The other day my 5-year-old came up to me out of the blue, put her hand on my arm, looked me right in the eye, and in an adorably serious and sincere tone said, “Mommy, I trust you on everything.  It was so unexpected and her serious facial expression was so cute that my first response was to laugh, which I did, and then I thanked her for her trust. 

The more I thought about it though, the more I felt humbled by what she had said… and then slightly horrified.  Should she really trust me on everything? Am I worthy of that kind of trust?  As I searched my soul for the answer to those questions, I ultimately came to the conclusion that it was no– I really am not worthy of that kind of trust.  And it is not because I am a bad mom or person.  I try really hard to be good- but I am not yet perfect.  My responses to my children are not perfect. My control of my emotions is not perfect.  My knowledge of all things is not perfect.  My methods of disciplining are not perfect.  My understanding of 5th-grade math is not perfect for heaven’s sake! In all honesty, I am pretty much flying by the seat of my pants most days as a mother. And so, in reality, she probably shouldn’t trust me on everything. 

But, she does.  And she is supposed to.  God seems to send these children with a built-in impulse to implicitly trust their parents, who He knows are not perfect- and He must have a reason for doing that.  The truth is, He is the Only One my sweet 5-year old daughter should trust on everything.  But she cannot be with Him physically while she is having this earthly experience, and so I as her mother, and my husband as her father, have the sobering responsibility to be His substitute while she is here. Woah.  That is a humbling and overwhelming realization…

My love for her is supposed to teach her about His love for her.  My response to her when she does something wrong is supposed to help her understand His response to her when she does something wrong.  My consistency in how I discipline her should teach her that He is consistent in His consequences and discipline. The way I respond to her needs is supposed to help her develop faith and trust in Him and His eagerness to respond to her needs.  My willingness to forgive her is supposed to help her trust that He, too, will forgive her.  My excitement and joy in her growth and development is meant to help her feel His excitement and joy as she makes progress and reaches toward her potential. My comforting embrace when she is hurting emotionally or physically is meant to be an extension of His loving, heavenly embrace, giving her the strength to go on.

I know that I have failed many times in representing Him.  Which makes me extremely grateful that along with sending children with very trusting hearts, God also sends them with very forgiving hearts.  Because of this, we have the opportunity to teach each other and learn together, as we practice from our different vantage points becoming more like our loving Heavenly Father in the way we respond to each other.  Though He doesn’t demand perfection from either of us right now, for some reason we often demand it of each other.  That is something we just need to learn to get over.

Somehow, I know, if I keep trying, God will take all of my motherly mistakes and all of my child’s youthful mistakes and use them as learning experiences for both of us if we choose to turn to Him.  And hopefully, over time, this experience we call motherhood will refine my impulses and responses, soften my nature, expand my heart’s capacity to love and forgive, and increase my ability to endure difficult things with patience.

I wish I could offer a 10-point, sure-fire strategy to help us all win our children’s trust overnight.  But, life is too complex for that.  Instead, I believe the key lies in keeping the perspective of what motherhood is all about.  It is not about meeting crazy schedules, or keeping clean houses, or having perfectly-groomed, well-behaved, highly-accomplished children that we can show off to the world.  It is about learning from each other how to truly love each other and respond to each other the way God would.   And He gives us AMPLE opportunities to practice this everyday.  If I can just keep at the forefront of my mind everyday, “How can I respond to my child the way God would in this situation?,” hopefully, over time, I will become more worthy of the trust my sweet daughter has already given me.

Other posts from Trish you might enjoy:  https://www.upliftingmayhem.com/im-glad-didnt-know-first-baby/

and https://www.upliftingmayhem.com/letting-kids-kids/

And check out this great post from Katie: https://www.upliftingmayhem.com/finding-joy-childs-eyes/