Consistent expressions of affection and love are crucial to feelings of love and trust in our children. One common "hand-me-down" from our parents could be the limited expressions of love that characterizes many homes.
"President Hinckley maintains that strong family life comes of parents who love and respect one another, and who love and respect and nurture their children in the ways of the Lord. He urges fathers and mothers to respect their children, for they are children of God, sons and daughters of God. They are His. . . . Let love prevail between you and your children. (Bahr et al. 174).
ll discuss some of the ways that trust and love can be increased in your home.
What if Trust Is Broken?
Dr. Latham, "Never question children about their behavior unless (a) you are seriously in need of information, and (b) that information will help in problem solving" (161).
Your Word is Your Bond
There must be no double-standard when it comes to trust. Trust is a shared commodity and, like a good treaty, is not entered into unilaterally. We get what we give. To have a loving and trusting relationship, we must give love and trust to our children.
What if We Broke It?
This is perhaps one of the most difficult positions for a parent: to have wronged a child.
Love and Trust Work Together
Trust and love are best taught to our children through our example. Our being trustworthy, not only with our children but with others--is extremely important to keeping lines of communication open and our relationships strong.
Start and end each day with positive statements about how the child's day went, what was learned, why you love them, etc.
A daughter remembers lighting her diary on fire on the back lawn after finding out her parents read it. More important than the destruction of the diary, of course, was the destruction of trust between daughter and parents. Unless you suspect something dangerous is happening in your child's life, the diary should remain a private place. As Cline and Fay state, "Parents, take a deep breath and trust that you have given your children what they needed in the first eleven years" ("Teens" 130).
Commit to creating three, four, or five times as many positive events and expressions as corrective ones. We even suggest making a brief record for a week of your main interactions with your children. You might be pleasantly surprised, or you may find there are consistent times of day when the negative outweighs the positive.
Proactively plan experiences that build relationships such as teaching your child to do something "grown up" like painting a wall, baking a cake or changing the oil in the car. What is one loving thing you could do with your child this week? Make it simple, write it down, follow through, and tune in to the love your child offers you as you cultivate your relationship with her.
Verbalize the many things your child gets to do because you trust him. "I'm glad I can trust you. You can go on the campout because of that trust, and I won't worry about your calling home if you have any problem." What is obvious to you might not be obvious to your child until you tell him about it.
BYU researchers counsel: The ordinariness of our daily comings and goings may make us forget how special our families are. . . . Often our blindness is greatest when we are at home with our families. We need to be reminded of the holiness of that which we take for granted (Bahr, et al. 174). To help remind yourself of the need to build positive relationships with your children, place a small object that will serve as your reminder to "catch" your child doing something good. Every time you see your reminder, say something loving to your child.
Try an experiment and do some research of your own. Consciously track the typical events of your family life that build positive relationships. What events, communications, experiences happen in a week's time that build positive relationships? What events and communications happen that seem negative, corrective, etc. where no positive relationship building is present in the event? See what you can do this week to increase the love in your home.
You'll read this over and over again in You Can Do This, but we believe you often get what you give. Just as other relationships in your life don't thrive without your nurturing them, neither will your relationship with your child. Make sure you have ample verbal and physical expressions of love in your home with your children.
As parents we have recognizable, visceral experience with compassion, indicated in the hollowness in our stomachs as we yearn to help a child who performs, the sick feelings within as we search for a lost child, the anguish we experience in the fact of a child's affliction.
Indeed, many aspects of our parenting may be seen as mortal versions of the "unlimited parental commitment" the Savior feels for those who are His sons and daughters because they have been born again spiritually through Him. Like the Savior, we grow in compassion through the sacrifices of parenthood (Bahr et al. 175).
Bahr, Howard M., Scott Loveless, and Ivan F. Beutler. "Love, Respect, and Compassion in Families." Strengthening Our Families: An In-depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family. Ed. David C. Dollahite. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2000. 167-176.
Cline, Foster and Jim Fay. Parenting with Love and Logic. USA: Pinion Press, 2006.
Cline, Foster, and Jim Fay. Parenting Teens with Love and Logic. USA: Pinion Press, 2006.
Niven, David. The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2004.