You know, for a person who as written about trust, autonomy, and ownership as often as I have, you think I’d be pretty dang comfortable with it. The truth is, it takes a many shaky, conscious decisions every day, every hour, to choose whether we’ll walk that uncomfortable path.
Will I let the 3 year-old carry his full cup of milk to the table even though I know odds are high that we’ll need a mop? Will I trust that my 7 year-old is getting something out of that chapter book she excitedly chose at the library, even though I know it’s a tad beyond her independent level? Will I permit the 1 year-old to help me unload the dishwasher even though he occasionally gets over-excited and spikes the plates on the floor?
It’s more than setting aside our own agenda and worries about mess and time. It’s showing our kids that we genuinely trust their growing abilities.
This opportunity to test my commitment to these principles arose again earlier this week on an unseasonably warm day when my kids wanted to play outside–all of them. My 7 year-old and I went back and forth for a while about whether she would be able to watch the 1 year-old at all times. As I continued to hem and haw, she pulled out the line, “Mom, just trust me?” As I looked into her earnest eyes, I knew that she would take the responsibility seriously.
And she did. When they came back home, cheeks were flushed with joy and success.
It’s never an easy decision to trust our kids–especially because sometimes, they truly are not yet ready for certain responsibilities. But we need to be careful that when these decisions arise, we do not choose on a basis of fear. As my friend Aviva Dunsinger recently wrote,
“Is every safety concern we have actually a big problem, or would some deep breaths and a little more watching and listening time change our views? I wonder how frequently our fears prevent opportunities for children, and if it’s time to make some changes.”
Though I don’t know that I will ever become completely comfortable with choosing trust, I do know it will increase my kids’ trust in themselves.
featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto
4 Replies to ““Just Trust Me” #TeacherMom”
I love this post! Yes, we need to trust our kids, and in turn, help them even better trust themselves in making these good decisions (and learning from other ones). This is hard to do, at times, but I wonder if it’s sometimes the stumbling block to even greater independence in kids. I’m glad you trusted your kids!
Thanks for the comment, Aviva, and for your inspiring example with your students! There is so much value in their learning from their personal decision-making process, and I’m working on getting out of the way more often!
Great post, Mary. It’s never easy being a parent, and it’s never easy giving responsibility over to someone else – especially a child – for our children. You did well to allow the three of them to go out to play unattended. I know I did it as a child – “be back by dinnertime” – but I think I’d find it difficult now.
Thanks, Norah! We can make it the norm again, I think, if more of us are willing to trust our kids. The perception that the world has become so much more dangerous can be skewed, not to mention the danger of kids not getting to enjoy healthy childhoods packed with the outdoors because our fear hinders them!