Trust requires unconditional love as well as honesty, reliability, and a concern for the needs of others. One of the most important characteristics of a happy and loving family is trust between its members.
Trust requires unconditional love as well as honesty, reliability, and a concern for the needs of others. One of the most important characteristics of a happy and loving family is trust between its members. As parents, we set the example for our children to follow. If children know that they can rely on their parents for support and love, they will be more likely to grow into trusting, caring individuals themselves. The following guidelines will help you to build trust and develop closeness in your family.
1. Be open and honest whenever possible
Obviously, there is certain subject matter that you should not discuss with your children. However, you should try to be honest with them when it is appropriate to do so. Give your child honest answers to his questions. Try to be straightforward when communicating; children can detect falseness and superficiality. By being candid and genuine, you will help your child have trust and confidence in you. Do not be afraid to admit when you don’t know something, or when you were wrong. Acknowledging your inadequacies and mistakes will form a basis of mutual trust and will teach your children to respect and trust you.
2. Be consistent
Establish clear and regular rules, expectations and routines in your family. Children need a certain amount of consistency and order to feel secure. If you are loving and pleasant one day, but irritable and angry the next your children will never know what you expect from them. Make mealtimes, bedtimes and other important routines as consistent as possible so that your children will know what to expect from day to day and when to expect it. This teaches them that their world makes sense and that they are safe and secure.
3. Be reliable
Do not promise your children things that you cannot, or have no intention of delivering. For example, if you know that there is a good chance you will have to miss your child’s dance recital because you might have to stay late at the office, don’t promise her that you will be there. Instead, explain the circumstances and tell her that you will try. If you regularly promise things and then don’t come through, your child will learn not to trust you. It is better to be honest than to allow your child to build up unrealistic expectations only to have them dashed over and over again. However, don’t let this become an excuse to neglect your parenting obligations. Make your child a priority and try to be there for her important events as much as possible.
Letting your child know that you have made a mistake will not cause him to think you are weak, or lessen his respect for you. Rather, it will create a relationship of trust between you and your child in which he will feel comfortable telling you when he has made a mistake, as well. Your example will also teach him that it is acceptable to make a mistake and when he does, he can repair it. This gives children a feeling of confidence in themselves and instills in them a general sense of optimism.
Dr. A. Lynn Scoresby is a professor emeritus of Human Development at Brigham Young University. He has been a marriage, child and family psychologist for more than 40 years. His greatest devotion is to create a happier world for children to grow. To help more people find support to life problems–to better support and nurture children–he helped to create www.FirstAnswers.com, an online portal for marriage and family, anxiety, depression, pornography addiction resources and online counseling.