While writing a nice little blog post about trust going two ways, about how parents need to trust their children and children have to trust their parents, I got derailed. My mind kept going back to the children who have had their trust betrayed. Children who have been deeply hurt by the people who were supposed to love and protect and encourage and support them. Children who were completely dependent on the people who abused that dependency in horrible ways.
No matter who you are or what your relationship is to children in this world, Be Trust Worthy. Be worthy of the trust of children. The children of this world desperately need adults who treat them with respect, who see them as people, who listen to their words, and take their hopes and dreams and fears and view of life seriously. Children need adults who will bear witness to their lives and validate their experiences.
This applies not only to parents but to every adult. If you aren't a parent you have the opportunity to be a respectful adult in the lives of the children you know. This includes the teens who are stereotyped and dis-empowered and subjected to disparaging remarks, often after having already survived childhood years that were anything but idyllic.
Most people parent as they were parented. The patterns of how we will parent start forming from the minute we are born, the way our parents met our needs or did not meet our need. The way our parents responded to our crying, comforted our fears, valued our interests, respected our food preferences, expressed their absolute unconditional love for us or Did Not, affect how we interact with our children. Some people seem to be born with a temperament that softens their interactions with children and helps them leave the parenting patterns of their past behind quite easily. For some it feels like a constant struggle to be the parent they want to be instead of the parent they were raised to be. Some people never realize there's a different way to parent and some can not admit that the way they were raised was hurtful because then they would have to admit how deeply they themselves were hurt.
Some children are trapped in their family's long history of abuse and hurt and shame. These children have no reason to trust anyone, no foundation of trust. These children need respectful, trustworthy adults in their world. The concept of Namaste may help us be mindful of how we should greet all the children we meet. Namaste means I bow to you, or the light in me sees the light in you. We need to let children know that we see them, that we recognize that they are people, too. In passing we can greet them with a smile that tells them we do see their light. If we see them regularly we can build a relationship that lets them know that there are adults in the world who see children as equally important as adults, who will validate their experiences and honor who they are as a person.
Be trustworthy. Do not let the children in your life down. If you say you will be somewhere, be there. If they want to share something with you give them your full attention. Love them simply because they are alive, not because they deserve it or have earned in through some behavior. Accept them for who they are and not because they have conformed to some ideal you have of who they should be. If for some reason you do not have the ability to be the adult they need in their life at that moment be honest about that. Find resources for yourself so that you can better meet their needs and find resources for them so that their needs can be met. If you do let a child down, don't make excuses. Be honest, be respectful, and apologize.
When we raise our children with trust that goes both ways, we trust them and they trust us, an amazing relationship is possible. When we raise our children with a foundation of trust they grow up to be trustworthy adults. Our children will become aware of the broken trust around them. They will recognize that while all children are worthy of respect and trust, not all adults are respectful and trust worthy. Our children need to know that we will be respectful of all children, creating a relationship of trust with every child that comes into our life to the fullest extent possible. We need to be adults that children can trust. We need to model that for the parents who had hurtful childhoods that they are recreating in the lives of their own children. We need to examine every interaction we have with children and make sure that we are coming from a place of integrity, respect and compassion. For children who have grown up in a family where they cannot trust the adults closest to them every interaction with an adult who is worthy of their trust matters. If ever there was a reason to live mindfully, this is reason enough for me: we must be mindful in every interaction with every child to be absolutely worthy of their trust. Parenting patterns can be changed, cycles of hurt can be stopped, we can make a difference in the life of a hurting child one moment of trust at a time. Be worthy.