Why I won't be drawn into the 'trust' debate with my child

Posted On May 22, 2022 |

Let me start by saying that I understand this blog may provoke some disagreement. 

I would like to clarify that I absolutely believe that trust is an integral part of any relationship. Having said that, I believe that this should be the case when both parties are of equal maturity.What do I mean by that?Well, as adults, we have all had enough life experience to know what is expected of us in a relationship. We understand the definition of trust, which is a ‘firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something’. So, I can’t help but wonder if we are being fair to our children if we expect the same of them?

With underdeveloped frontal lobes, we should expect and be prepared for them to make impulsive foolish decisions at times and be there to guide them.At the risk of sounding controversial, I do not use the word trust in any of my conversations with my children. I know how important it is to feel trusted in a relationship. I also can imagine that it would feel deeply shameful if one were to break that trust and that it may take a long time to rebuild the trust lost.

I’m grateful I didn’t tell my daughter when she was little that I ‘trusted’ her. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would have made her devastating experience when she encountered an online predator. She never for a moment had to feel she had ‘broken’ my trust. Gone against my advice — yes — but not 'broken' my trust. She may never have told me if she had felt she had 'broken my trust'.

I have had many instances during my son’s adolescence where I could have used the word. Instead, I explained to him that his brain was still underdeveloped and that the rules in place were for his safety. Of course, there were times when he was frustrated and said, ‘don’t you trust me?’ However, my response was always to turn the conversation back to one involving his protection — his physical, emotional, and mental protection.

So, my advice is not to get drawn into this type of discussion with your children. If they ask you ‘don’t you trust me?’ Explain to them that your boundaries have nothing to do with trust but are to do with the fact that you are aware of ALL the risks and that it is YOUR job to keep them safe.