Trust and Love
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).
Cline and Fay suggest "if we know our child is lying, if we've caught him or her in the act, then the game is over. We say, ˜Caleb, you did hit Bryce in the face. No matter what you say, I saw you do it. Now how are you going to make it right"?" (199).
Consistency creates a sense of safety and peace to children. Expressing love even while correcting misbehavior means that love doesn't go away when a child misbehaves. This is crucial.
As we read in Doctrine and Covenants, there are times when a disciplinary response is needed, but we are directed to "then [show] forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved." (121:43).
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.
David Niven in his book The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families, explains the importance of being trustworthy to our children this way, â€œManuel, who runs a program teaching parenting skills to young fathers [asks participants], "You want an easy answer? Here's an easy answer: always do what you say you are going to do. No exceptions, no excuses. Your word is everything to your child."(77).
Likewise, we can't ever ask children to lie for us, even in little ways, like, "Say I'm not home, if someone calls and we don't want to talk to them." We are our child's main example of trustworthiness.
What if We Broke It?
This is perhaps one of the most difficult positions for a parent: to have wronged a child.
We should handle this as we handle any other offense that might need taking care of, through repentance and asking forgiveness.
Saying you're sorry to a child is extremely important in keeping trust alive between the two of you, and can teach your child the valuable lesson that saying I'm sorry is something we all must do.
Children are often even more willing to forgive than adults. Asking forgiveness of your child if needed is an important part of being a parent.
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.
We can also teach our children to be trustworthy by allowing them more and more options as they earn our trust. When love is the foundation of all our interactions with our children, even our disciplining and correcting interactions, we create a climate where our children feel safe and good about themselves, no matter what. As you work to fill your children's emotional bank accounts with trust and love, they will be able to offer trust and love back to you.
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.