I have a girlfriend who gets furious every time her kids make poor choices. She cannot seem to hold herself together and stay calm if they stay out later than allowed, skip practice, or lie about doing their homework. Now, these are all poor choices, to be sure, but I would contend that my dear friend is in for many more years of such behavior, and much of this is due to her.
Earning Their Trust
Think about it for a minute. If you want someone to open up to you, listen to you, and follow your guidance, they need two things. The first is to know that you care about them, and the second, see that they are safe to do so. So if every time I mess up and go with my gut or my feelings, and you criticize me, am I going to ever come to you, listen, and let you speak wisdom into my life?
Sadly, the answer is no. Sure we can enforce menacing punishments and get conformity for a few years, but to have our kids listen and learn, they have to open up their hearts and emotions to us and process things with us on that level. And the sad truth is that no human will open up if they feel attacked or unsafe. In other words, if my friend gets intense and disrespectful towards her kids when they act wrong, they will probably not feel safe or cared about enough to open up and get help from her.
Now inevitably, some of us will read this and get hung up because we have not talked about how something must be done when poor behavior is displayed. So let me clear the air on this. Yes. Something must be done. There must be consequences for bad behavior. But those consequences should never include being treated with disrespect, anger, or negative intensity. That reaction is crossing a line that breaks trust.
I believe that, like it is with God, it should be with us. God does everything to earn our trust. He knows that trust is based on love, and He wants to be in a healthy, honest, loving relationship with us. He knows that if we are close to Him, we’ll all be better for it. And He’ll have a lot more fun and have a lot more influence over us. (Something we all desperately need.)
This relationship is what I want with my kids. I want them to be in a healthy, loving relationship with me. I want them to feel honored and respected at all times. And I want this so that I can share life with them, guide them, and know that they’ll listen. I want to be worthy of their trust, which is another way of saying I want to be trustworthy.
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Claire Worley writes from the Pacific Northwest.© 2002 - 2023, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.