Trust, a Parent’s Cop-out
Trust, a Parent’s Cop-out
I was at a Christmas party this weekend and struck up a conversation with another mother about teenagers and cell phones. She was telling me that her 14 year old daughter had sent over 7,000 texts within a month! If you have read my post on Cell Phone Safety, you can imagine what I was really thinking.
I proceeded to tell her that software was available that could notify her of every text sent or received by her daughter. Needless to say, the mother wanted to purchase it immediately. However, the girl’s father had a different take on that idea. He seemed to feel conflicted and didn’t want to “snoop” on his daughter. He said that he “trusted” his daughter. It seemed, to me, that misguided decision was as plain as the nose on his face. It was evident by the 7,000+ texts, his daughter was not ready for that definition of trust.
Trust and privacy seem to be two words that have very different meanings for parents and children. Most adults can’t even agree on what exactly trust entails when it comes to children. Most do not consider that the act of trusting children begins with a PARENT being worthy of trust, first.
Parents must be able to set the example before they can expect children to follow. Children will copy your negative traits before the positive. If you have ever slipped and said a curse word when your child was a toddler, then you know what I mean. One slip can take weeks to recover from and keep you praying that they don’t say that word at Grandma’s house.
If you are not trustworthy, chances are your child won’t be either. I have always been honest with my children, even when it would have been easier to tell a lie. Every parent has been in a situation where being dishonest sure would have made things less difficult. By setting the example and being trustworthy, it lays the foundation for your children to be good stewards of trust.
Trust shouldn’t be used as a cop-out to parenting. Just because you “trust” your child, doesn’t mean that you no longer have to screen, verify, or check-up on what they are doing. Trust doesn’t void or nullify a parent’s responsibility to protect and teach. You wouldn’t hand over the keys to the car on the day your child receives their Learner’s Permit and say “Bye now, I trust you’ll drive safely.” Of course, you wouldn’t! Why? Because you are still teaching them to drive and they are learning a skill that requires consistent practice. The same concept applies to smaller areas of trust, like cell phones.
It is a proven fact that the prefrontal cortex of a child’s brain, the part responsible for sound decision making, assessing risks, and logic, is not fully developed until at least the early twenties. I’m not saying that children can’t make responsible choices. Obviously, some children are more developed than others in that department. What I am saying is this; before you decide to dole out trust, make sure your child is able to handle it. Sometimes trust is a burden that is too heavy to carry. Just because a parent wants to trust their child, doesn’t mean the child is automatically ready to accept it. I don’t think it’s fair for parents to be upset when their children break trust, if they weren’t ready for the responsibility in the first place.
Trusting our children can be a real convenience in this busy world. The world is already a difficult place to maneuver. Don’t set your children up for failure by using trust as a cop-out, even if it would make your job as a parent less difficult.