Trust is one of the key factors in parenting, many parent child conflicts spring out of a distortion of trust in the relationship. But how does this trust work? How do we get it? How do we keep it.
When I speak of trust in parenting, I mean mutual trust. The child must trust his caregiver to fulfill his basic needs and to act in his best interest, and the caregiver, in turn, must trust the child to make his own decisions and to take action at the time fit for his specific development. Already at this simple given, things can go horribly wrong. Western parenting styles tend to not trust the child at all. In this situation, the child will lose trust in his caregiver, through frustration and incomprehension.
The best way to maintain trust it to be present, to tend to their needs, to react when they are distressed. If your infant is uncomfortable, but there is nothing you can do, then just being present and soothing them is enough to keep their trust. Being present doesn’t mean being interventionist. We tend to want to act all the time, when sometimes simple awareness and connectedness is what is required. Your fussiness can be a huge disturbance and frustration to a child who is just trying to unwind.
Another way to avoid the trust to be eroded is to keep them safe without being restricting. If you are being to restricting, if you are keeping them away from everything, merely out of an irrational fear, or out of parental laziness (I don’t mean this in a bad way. Running behind an active toddler who wants nothing better than to stick his fingers in plugs and eat everything that doesn’t - or does -move, can be very tiresome. This is yet another reason altogether to ensure a safe environment wherever possible, where they can roam free with minimal supervision).
Keeping them safe doesn’t mean they’ll never have a bump. Children grow through bumps, bruises and scratches. It does mean being present and aware, helping them cope with frustration and harm, and guiding them so they will eventually be ready and strong to face danger on their own and make the right choices. Often, their correct decision making springs from having trust in them.
Unconditionality is a very important part of trust, for how can a child trust someone who lets his love eb and flow with the coming and going of situations. Showing your love even in difficult times is a very important step in maintaining that bond of trust.
Having a trusting relationship is one of the most important parts of parenting and it might be one of the hardest. Maintaining trust can prove an issue, since most parents have grown up themselves in distorted trust relationships. Though there is never a time to despair. Trust can be regained, even though it gets harder as they grow up, by making a continuous effort, showing them that your trust in them is unshakeable, and making clear, day after day, that you are there, that you are loving and that you care.